Why I Love Gmail S’Darn Much

I love Gmail.  LOVE IT.  I’ts awesome.  In fact, if it were a 19 year old girl, she’d be smokin’ hot and I’d ask her to dinner.  Alas, it’s not, and I’m left to express my love in other ways and search for a non-Ajax based lady friend.

Labels

Gmail labels are a great way to get organized.  Essentially, labels are to emails what categories are to blog posts.  When an email comes in, you can add labels to it.  Once a label is added, a little tag with the label name will appear next to the email on your inbox page.

Now, if this is where labels stopped, I wouldn’t be writing this – it’d be kind of useless.  However, Gmail allows you to customize label foreground and background colors, so that you immediately know the label of an email.  Plus it makes your inbox look cool.  Still, the real beauty of labels comes when you use it with filters.

Filters

Filters are, in my opinion, the most useful feature of Gmail.  Since I use my Gmail account to send and receive messages for all my other email accounts, sorting email can be time-consuming.   Filters allow you to create…well…filters for your email.

First, you specify conditions.  You can do this by specifying a “From” email address, a “To” address, by subject, or simply words.  After that, you choose what you would like Gmail to do with these emails.  This can be anything from marking them as read, archiving them, applying labels, etc.  I generally choose to apply labels based on the sender.  So, if eBay sends me a confirmation email, it is tagged “ebay” and assigned a yellow label in my inbox.  This works for email accounts too – my university mail comes through labeled “usc”.

gmail_filters_labels

Contacts

Now, there’s nothing particularly amazing about Gmail contacts.  The magic comes with synchronization.  Google Sync for the mobile phone is a great example.  Contacts sync with your phone, updating email addresses and phone numbers.  It’s great to have those addresses on your mobile, since you can text-to-email pictures and send mobile emails.  Since you can set up multiple accounts in your main Gmail account, you end up getting a lot more contacts from all over in one place.

Stars

The idea of adding stars to emails is really quite simple, but it’s a very important feature – at least for me.  I’m a big user of the “Mark as Unread” button (both in Gmail and Facebook!) but adding stars is a nice addition.  If an email needs my attention for several days, or if I was emailed some important information that I need to reference later, I can simply star it.  All starred emails are in a separate folder right under your inbox count on the left sidebar.

Tasks

This is a feature that is currently available in Labs.  You can actually also add Tasks to your Google Calendar, but more on that later.  The neat thing about the Tasks feature is that, unlike lots of other to-do lists built into webmail, it’s always available but out of the way at the same time.  Tasks acts a lot like Facebook chat – it stays minimized at the bottom of your window until you maximize it.  From there, just click on a new line and start typing away.

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