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gmail priority inboxI don’t need to explain my love for Gmail; it’s well-stated. It provides the best interface, in my opinion, for interacting with email. And it keeps getting better.

The service recently added free phone calls from your browser Use Gmail To Make Free Phone Calls In Your Browser Use Gmail To Make Free Phone Calls In Your Browser Read More . It long ago made spam a thing of the past, something other email services have now almost caught up with completely.

And now, with the new Priority Inbox, Gmail is taking care of bacn – those annoying yet not unrequested emails that tend to clutter our inbox, getting in the way of emails you need to attend to now. This is done by dividing your into “priority emails”, “starred emails” and “everything else.”

Enabling Gmail Priority Inbox

Open up your Gmail and you just might find an invitation to use Priority Inbox. It will be in the top left, beside the settings button. Go ahead and click it if you want to use the new service; check out the screenshots below if you’re not sure yet.

gmail priority inbox

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Enabling the service will refresh your Gmail session, bringing you to an inbox divided into three categories: Priority Inbox, Starred and Everything Else.

Longtime Gmail users will doubtless recognize the “Starred” section. It simply shows messages you’ve starred in the past.

The new priority section, however, is different. It is programed to only show you emails that you actually need to respond to quickly. For me, this means email from other MakeUseOf writers as well as iSupportU clients. In the “Everything Else” category I can find newsletters from companies I subscribed to, forwards from friends and the occasional survey I might be interested in doing. Stuff that isn’t important, but isn’t spam. Like this:

gmail priority mail

You can hide any one of these categories by clicking the “minus” button to their right. Or, if you want to go back to your standard inbox, you can just click “Inbox” in the left panel to bring it up.

Configuration

You’ll find a configuration page for the feature in “Settings,” once you add it. It looks like this:

gmail priority inbox

As you can see, the three main fields on the priority page are completely configurable. You can remove the “Starred” field, or replace it with emails from a particular tag. This could be useful if you manage more than one email address with your Gmail account, and want to keep the email in seperate categories.

Personal Organizing

Naturally, a feature like this is only useful if you actually stay on top of your email. If you’re the kind of person who has 51,576 unread emails they never intend to get to, Gmail Priority Inbox probably isn’t for you.

I, however, find the feature quite useful as a personal organization tool. My email acts as a to-do list in many ways; I only keep things I need to respond to there and archive or delete everything else. The priority inbox feature hides stuff I don’t need to be thinking about, allowing me to stick to only the stuff that matters while I’m busy without giving me the option of reading the other stuff later.

Additionally, the built-in starred view in this mode allows me to keep longer-term projects in view everytime I look at my email. My new job as the editor of MakeUseOf’s PDF Manuals leaves me with many long-term projects I need to keep track of. I keep emails related to these projects in my Starred section to help me remember to follow up with the writers periodically.

But enough about me. What do you think you could use the Gmail priority inbox feature for? Or are you already using it? Feel free to discuss any of this, or how you’re just sick of tech bloggers talking about how great Gmail is, in the comments below. I’ll join right in, because I love hanging out with you guys.

  1. Munkypint
    September 6, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I have been using it very little seeing as it has just being implemented on my gmail account. However, from what I have seen it is a great feature. It enables me to reply to the urgent emails first with a good level of accuracy.

    The fact you can toggle from normal inbox view so quickly is great too, meaning you can look at your emails the normal way whenever you need to see things chronologically. It adds a feature while still enabling the standard way of visualizing your inbox.

  2. Munkypint
    September 6, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I have been using it very little seeing as it has just being implemented on my gmail account. However, from what I have seen it is a great feature. It enables me to reply to the urgent emails first with a good level of accuracy.

    The fact you can toggle from normal inbox view so quickly is great too, meaning you can look at your emails the normal way whenever you need to see things chronologically. It adds a feature while still enabling the standard way of visualizing your inbox.

  3. Simon Slangen
    September 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    This is no more "privacy breach" (popular topic these days) than a spam filter.

    Google's computers process the information in your messages for various purposes, including formatting and displaying the information to you, delivering advertisements and related links, preventing unsolicited bulk email (spam), backing up your messages, and other purposes relating to offering you Gmail.

    We provide advertisers only aggregated non-personal information such as the number of times one of their ads was clicked. We do not sell, rent or otherwise share your personal information with any third parties except in the limited circumstances described in the Google Privacy Policy, such as when we believe we are required to do so by law.

    Google adheres to the US Safe Harbor privacy principles. If we use this information in a manner different than the purpose for which it was collected, then we will ask for your consent prior to such use.

    Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:
    x) We have your consent. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.
    x) We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
    x) We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.

    That's about it. (source 1, 2)

    People are getting really worked up on corporate conspiracy theories, especially on the subject of privacy, but contrary to popular assumptions, corporate entities do not have carte blanche in how they handle such aggregated data. Whenever you use an online service, such as Google or Gmail, you engage in a contract (the so-called terms of service, or TOC) that dictates the mutual rights and duties. Moreover, these TOC's must adhere to the overarching 'official laws', such as the aforementiond US-EU Safe Harbor privacy principles.

    Pretty much the same transpires when you buy products in a store, or use public transportation. That is, you give silent consent to a mutual, public contract, that is always limited in its subject-matter by the overarching public and complementary laws.

  4. Ani
    September 5, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Just activated Priority Inbox and it is a good feature but it makes me think to how much extent Gmail keeps an eye on its users and the mails they read.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      This is no more "privacy breach" (popular topic these days) than a spam filter.Google's computers process the information in your messages for various purposes, including formatting and displaying the information to you, delivering advertisements and related links, preventing unsolicited bulk email (spam), backing up your messages, and other purposes relating to offering you Gmail.We provide advertisers only aggregated non-personal information such as the number of times one of their ads was clicked. We do not sell, rent or otherwise share your personal information with any third parties except in the limited circumstances described in the Google Privacy Policy, such as when we believe we are required to do so by law.Google adheres to the US Safe Harbor privacy principles. If we use this information in a manner different than the purpose for which it was collected, then we will ask for your consent prior to such use.Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:x) We have your consent. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.x) We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.x) We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.That's about it. (source 1, 2)

      People are getting really worked up on corporate conspiracy theories, especially on the subject of privacy, but contrary to popular assumptions, corporate entities do not have carte blanche in how they handle such aggregated data. Whenever you use an online service, such as Google or Gmail, you engage in a contract (the so-called terms of service, or TOC) that dictates the mutual rights and duties. Moreover, these TOC's must adhere to the overarching 'official laws', such as the aforementiond US-EU Safe Harbor privacy principles.

      Pretty much the same transpires when you buy products in a store, or use public transportation. That is, you give silent consent to a mutual, public contract, that is always limited in its subject-matter by the overarching public and complementary laws.

      • jhpot
        September 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

        Well put, Simon.

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