Gmail’s Priority Inbox can help you

GoogleApps_April09_AEmail is both a blessing and a curse. Sure it has made communication quicker and easier, but it’s also a cause of undue stress. Think about how many emails you read on a daily basis, how many of them are actually high priority, and how many are spam? They usually all go into one folder – your Inbox – and you have to sort them out. Gmail users don’t have to worry as they have a tool to help them sort their Inbox.

Priority Inbox is a tool that will automatically sort your Inbox, making important emails appear at the top. This makes it easier for you to sort through your emails and focus on the most important tasks.

The whole idea of Priority Inbox is that it highlights only the important emails. For example, when you get a new email that the tool deems to be a priority, it will notify you, while not showing notifications for messages that aren’t a priority. This is also carried over to your mobile phone, which will only show a new email notification if a priority email comes in.

How does this work?
It may seem a bit like Big Brother, but this tool watches and learns from your Gmail habits. When first activated, nothing will appear different, emails will still come in. But, Priority Inbox watches what you do with these emails. If you just delete newsletters or spam, overtime the tool will associate email from this sender as not important. On the other hand, if you reply to a sender as soon as an email comes in from them, the tool will eventually mark the sender’s email as important and elevate them to the top of your Inbox.

It is important to be actively deleting/responding/opening emails as the tool learns from these actions. If you just leave a spam message in your Inbox, it won’t be marked as unimportant. You should also not expect immediate results as it can take weeks or more than a month for results to show. Should Priority Inbox mark emails as important when they aren’t, you can mark them as less important to move them down the inbox.

How do I set it up?
To enable this app, simply hover your mouse over Inbox and click the downward facing arrow that pops-up. Select Priority Inbox and start opening/reading/replying to emails. If you want to manually mark important emails, you can press the star beside the email in your Inbox, or the big arrow below the senders name – it will turn yellow when marked as Important.

You can access your Priority Inbox at any time by clicking on Priority on the left-hand side of the Gmail window. This folder will be divided into three parts: Important (unread emails will be at the top), Starred emails below them and everything else at the bottom.

What’s the best way to get Priority Inbox to learn?
There are a number of things beyond simply reading/replying/deleting emails that you can do to encourage this app’s learning:

1. Set up labels and filters
Labels are Gmail’s version of files. You can apply labels to any email and always access them by pressing the corresponding label on the left-hand side of the Gmail window. For example you can attach an “Important customer” label to any email from a customer you deal with on a regular basis. When you click on Important Customer under your Inbox, any email with the relevant label will be shown. Filters can help you automate the application of labels.

You can set labels by:

  1. Pressing More under Inbox on the left-hand vertical menu in Gmail.
  2. Selecting Create new label
  3. Entering a name for the label and pressing Create.

When you have an email you would like to apply a label to, you can open it and press the label button above the message and clicking the relevant label. You can apply as many as you like.

To create a filter which will automatically attach a specific label to incoming emails you:

  1. Select a message from a sender that you want a label to be automatically attached to.
  2. Press the More button which is located above the message, and select Filter messages like these.
  3. Enter any relevant information like subject line, CC, BCC, etc. Note: This sets parameters that must be met before the filter is applied.
  4. Click on Create filter with this search and followed by ticking the box beside Apply the label in the next window.
  5. Press the box that says Choose label… and tick the relevant labels. Note: You can also press New Label to create a new one.
  6. Click Create Filter. You can also tick the box beside the Create Filter button that says Also apply filter to XX emails, and the label will be automatically applied to existing emails that meet the parameters.

If the sender is important, also tick Always mark it as important, or Never mark it as important if they aren’t important. Ticking either of these options will increase the speed with which Priority Inbox learns.

2. Actively mark emails as important/not important
As stated above, if you actively mark emails as important/not important, this tool will learn quicker. You can mark messages accordingly by selecting it (click on it) and select More from the menu bar above the Inbox. Click Mark as Important or Mark as not important.
This tool is great for busy managers whose Inboxes are overflowing and who find it hard/don’t have the time to sort through emails. If you find that this isn’t working properly, you can turn off Priority Inbox by hovering over Inbox and selecting another Inbox type. The most popular is: Unread first.

Looking for more ways how Google Apps can help you get your business under control? Contact us today.

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