How to: improve Gmail

Finally… a useful improvement to Gmail!

I recently (at SOMESSO with @amayfield and @craighepburn) got to quiz a Google Gmail engineer (!) about improvements to Gmail (IMO one of the worst email clients despite it’s portability). I started off by suggesting that creative types (yes I do know a few!) would really benefit from the introduction of colour banding as a kind of visual filter for emails. I was informed that this was indeed one of the multitude of potential upgrades that will come to Gmail when they get round to it.

It was interesting to hear that they have a team that work on this. Surely there’s an easier way to manage this process in a open-source type way? There seemed to be no mechanism for prioritisation at all.

Here’s some useful info though. Google, the kings of search, have of course developed advanced search queries for Gmail. Check out this ‘Tip: Slice and dice your mail with search operators‘ from the Gmail blog:

My friends email me all the time with ideas for improving Gmail. Just this weekend, my friend Dave said he wanted a way to select all of his messages with a certain label (like “important”). Two weeks ago, Adam came up with the idea of a button that would filter his inbox to only show unread items. Good ideas, but it turns out that doing stuff like this (and much more) is already possible using search operators.

For example, Dave would just need to search for “in:important” to get all items labeled “important,” and Adam would just search for “is:unread in:inbox” to see all the unread messages in his inbox.

Here are a few other useful ways to filter your inbox:

“to:me is:starred” shows all messages sent directly to you that are starred

“is:chat from:heather” shows all chat conversations you had with Heather

“is:starred -in:inbox” shows all your starred messages that aren’t in your inbox (a good way to find anything important that you might have accidentally archived)

“from:elliot filename:pdf” shows all messages from Elliot that have a pdf attachment

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Not in the least bit copyrighted by Tim Aldiss 2012