If you participate in online email discussion groups, you probably found out the hard way that email from an active group can overwhelm your email program.
To manage this issue, I keep group email separate from many company email. In fact, I use GMail exclusively for all the groups and newsletters I receive.
When you first start using GMail, it may seem confusing because unlike most email programs, it doesn’t use folders. However using a combination of labels and filters, you can easily manage a lot of email fairly easily.
In Gmail a “filter” is the same idea as the concept of a “rule” in other programs, such as Outlook.
The principle is the same in GMail. You can use a combination of labels and filters to sort your email automatically as it arrives. First you create labels to sort your email then apply the label using a filter to keep things organized and your inbox from getting out of hand.
To get started, at the top of the page, click the Labels drop-down and click Manage Labels. (Or click Create Label on the left side below your inbox.)
Scroll down past the System labels, type a name for your label, and click the Create button.
Now scroll back up to the top of the page and click the Create a Filter link.
Because discussion group postings always come from the same email address you can type it into the From box. Or, you might filter emails by their subject line. For example, my Book Author’s Circle emails always are prefaced by [BAC].
Click the Next Step button. Now you tell what GMail should do with the email. You can bypass the inbox, apply a label, add a star, or Forward the email to another email address.
For my discussion groups, I click “Skip the Inbox” and apply the label I have set up for the group. (In this case, the group is Book Author’s Circle, so I apply that label.) If you find that GMail is dumping your messages into the spam bucket, you may also want to click “Never send it to Spam” as well.
Back in the main GMail page in the Labels area, I can click the label in the list and check the emails. Unless you tell GMail to mark the emails as “read” when you set up your filter, if you have unread messages, the label will appear bold in the list, so you know there’s something new.
By using labels and filters, it’s easier to keep up with your Gmail inbox and you can set aside group postings and newsletters to read when you have time. With one click you can easily check and see how many emails you have, but they aren’t cluttering up your inbox.