Email is great, except when there’s too much of it. Priority Inbox automatically identifies your important email and separates it out from everything else, so you can focus on what really matters.
Enables Support For Third-Party Outbound Servers
Anyone who has ever tried to use Gmail as a central hub for their Email has likely fallen prey to one of the service’s annoying flaws: there was no way to use another site’s outgoing SMTP servers to send Email. For the vast majority of people this wasn’t an issue — Gmail was happy to send your Email for you from your Gmail account, along with message indicating that it was being sent “On Behalf Of” your other account. But those three words were still there, serving as a constant thorn in our sides. And to make matters worse, it could also confuse people: they might start sending messages to your Gmail account rather than your primary Email address. Today, you can kiss those “On Behalf Of”’s goodbye, as Gmail has just started allowing users to send their messages from third party SMTP servers.
If the previous paragraph confused you, here’s an explanation: Many people like to use Gmail’s web interface for their Email but don’t have the option of using Google Apps on their mail server, especially when it’s for their work account. Fortunately there’s a work around to this: simply have your work Email account auto-forward all incoming messages to your Gmail account. The option even allows you to send messages and make them look like they’re coming from your work account, rather than you Gmail account, but with one caveat: rather than actually send these messages from your work address, Google includes a message that says the message was sent “On Behalf Of” your address, while still showing the name of the Gmail account it was actually sent from.
It’s true that most people never noticed this (in fact many mail clients don’t show the “On Behalf Of” at all under default settings), and even if they did see it they probably didn’t care in the slightest. But it’s still been a source of annoyance for many of us.
If you love Gmail and you happen to be a disciple of the Getting Things Done philosophy, reader Chris Zimmerman details how he employs a couple of Gmail Labs features to transform Gmail into an impressive GTD inbox.
Using Superstars & Multiple Inboxes:
- Enable both “multiple inboxes” and “Superstars” in Google Labs
- Then in general settings, set your stars up like this:
These are used to represent, in order from left to right:
- Red Bang – Needs Immediate Action/Scheduling, search query: has:red-bang (or l:^ss_cr)
- Yellow Bang – Needs Action/Non-Immediate, search query: has:yellow-bang (or l:^ss_cy)
- Red Star – Scheduled on Calendar, search query: has:red-star (or l:^ss_sr)
- Orange Arrows – Delegated, search query: has:orange-guillemet (or l:^ss_co)
- Purple Question – Needs Further Follow-Up or Research, search query: has:purple-question (or l:^ss_cp)
- Purple Star – Some Day/Long Term, search query: has:purple-star (or l:^ss_sp)
- Green Check – Completed, search query: has:green-check (or l:^ss_cg)
- Green Star – Archive, search query: has:green-star (or l:^ss_sg)
- Blue Info – Archive as General Reference Item, search query: has:blue-info (or l:^ss_cb)
- Then I set the settings of my multiple mailboxes up like this:
- The idea is, nothing should sit with a “red bang” for very long. For me at least, if it isn’t scheduled, it probably won’t happen, so I want stuff on the calendar as soon as possible.
- Once your Inbox is set up it looks great and automatically sorts things into the proper piles like so:
- I then also use labels to define Contexts, Projects, and Resources – Prefixed with a C/ or a P/ or R/ respectively:
- P/Company Site
- P/Source New Building
- P/Board Outing
- P/Spring Vacation
- R/Jones, Steve, Attorney
- R/Zoning Board
- R/Thomas, Joe
- Toggling the stars quickly puts things in the right action pile for fast processing. Tagging them with context and project labels, I know what I could be working on and how to move projects ahead.
- I also save common searches in my toolbar using this Gmail bookmarklet generator. Using the same search queries from above, you generate bookmarklets you can drag right to the toolbar. As an example, say I want to quickly see all mail that’s been delegated (the orange arrows); I go to the site, and enter l:^ss_co as my query, like so:
“Title” is the word that will appear in the button, so I keep it simple and stick to what I am looking for.
After I hit “generate”, here’s what I got:
Then I just dragged it to my toolbar.
I took it a step further, and put my common searches in and created a folder for all of them, like so:
Clicking on any of the bookmarklets takes me directly to whichever search I need.
Thanks for the great writeup, Chris! Got a similar implementation of your own? Let’s hear it in the comments.