TIME How-To

Gmail Tips: Get Organized with Labels and Filters

Hi, there. I’m going to use an email message from my friend Ben to show you how to organize your Gmail inbox a little better.

First order of business: never delete messages. We’re going to archive them instead. This is the equivalent of taking every piece of physical mail that’s ever been sent to your house and putting it in your basement instead of throwing the mail you don’t need or don’t care about away. If you do this in real life, you’re crazy. If you don’t do this online, you’re crazy.

There are three buttons above every message: one that looks like a box (Archive), then an exclamation point inside a stop sign (Report spam), then a trash can (Delete). Unless you’re running really low on Google storage space (you probably aren’t), always use Archive when you’re done reading a message that you’d like to file away and retrieve later (or never).

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now, I need a place to file this message away. I’m going to create a label for it. Click the label-looking thing up at the top of the message and choose “Create new” to — you guessed it — create a new label.

Gmail Tricks
Google

I’m going to call this label “Emails from Ben” since it will contain emails from Ben.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now that the label has been created, you’ll notice a little link that says “Emails from Ben” next to the subject of the email message. Clicking that label will take me to a list of all the emails I’ve labeled as “Emails from Ben.” There will only be one email on that list right now, though. Oh, and I can add multiple labels to each message if I like. If Ben were a member of my family (he’s not) and he emailed me about some bill that needed paying, I could label that message “Emails from Ben” and “Household” if I wanted to. That’s for the advanced class, though.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now, I could just manually label every email from Ben under “Emails from Ben” but I’m a busy, important, handsome man who doesn’t have time for that nonsense. Let’s automate this process. Under the More button, I’ll choose “Filter messages like these” to create a filter.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Here is where you’ll need to be wearing elastic-leg undergarments if you tend to get too excited by technology. I’ll create a filter that does something (I’ll denote the “something” next) every time I get an email from Ben. This filter will work off of his email address, but I could set different parameters or additional parameters. That’s also for the advanced class. For this go-around, we’ll stick to Ben’s email address. Click “Create filter with this search” to move on.

Gmail Tricks
Google

As you can see, I have a lot of options here. Every time I get an email from Ben, I can archive it immediately, mark it as read, star it, and a bunch of other fun stuff. I’m going to choose to “Apply the label” and choose the “Emails from Ben” label we made a few steps earlier. And since I want all past emails from Ben to get categorized under the “Emails from Ben” label (but I don’t want to label them all by hand), I’m going to choose the “Also apply filter to matching conversations” checkbox at the bottom before clicking the “Create filter” button.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now every email that Ben has sent me from that particular email address should show up under the “Emails from Ben” label that’s accessible from the left-hand column. And every email I get from him in the future will automatically get the “Emails from Ben” label applied to it automatically. When I’m done reading a message from him, I’ll archive it and know where to quickly find it later.

Gmail Tricks
Google

“Well, that was stupid,” you’re saying. Maybe so, but this sorcery can be applied to a whole bunch of other stuff.

Let’s say, for instance, that I want to sign up for a website that requires an email address but I don’t want to give this website my real address. I can add a “+” to my Gmail username between my name and the “@” to create a Gmail alias. I can then filter messages sent to “doug+spam@gmail.com” to either skip my inbox altogether and/or to get automatic labels applied to them.

Here’s a quick video of the process in action:

In essence, learning how to work with labels and filters allows you to create several automated traffic cops that can sling your email around as you see fit. Once you’ve tweaked everything a bit, you’ll notice a cleaner inbox despite spending less time dealing with email.

MONEY Google

‘Google for Kids’ Is Coming

Child using Google on iPad2
Alex Segre—Alamy

Reports indicate Google is planning to roll out a suite of services specifically targeting young users.

Google is working on versions of its services, such as YouTube and Gmail, that are specifically outfitted for children.

Currently, Google services are technically only meant for persons over the age of 13 years. Users attempting to create a new Google account are asked to enter their birthday, in addition to other information like username and password. Those under the age limit are directed to a page explaining Google’s policy and linking to the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on child privacy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s new child-approved services will allow parents to control how their children interact with Google’s products and what information the search giant collects from their child’s activity. The Information previously reported that a version of YouTube featuring beefed up parental controls was in development.

Google currently limits its services to an older age group because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires parental consent before a child’s data can be collected, and restricts how that data can be used and stored. While web sites are not liable if underage users lie about their age, a person familiar with Google’s plans told the Journal that demand from parents who want to create accounts for their children and a desire to remain in compliance with COPPA spurred the company to act.

Another reason for kid-centric services could be a desire by Google to break into the lucrative education market. The company’s Chromebooks are low-cost laptops that might be attractive to schools, but the products are entirely based around Google services. A child-suite of Google apps might make Chromebooks a viable alternative to the iPad among educators interested in introducing technology into the classroom.

Some privacy advocates are not particularly thrilled by the prospect of more children making Google accounts. Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Journal the new services could threaten the privacy of millions of children, and that his organization had already shared its concerns with the Federal Trade Commission.

MONEY online shopping

Why Retailers Actually Want You to Unsubscribe From Their Spammy Email Lists

Wooden "SPAM" stamp
Bill Truslow—Getty Images

Gmail made it easier than ever to unsubscribe from unwanted email lists sent by retailers that somehow got hold of your email address. So go on, unsubscribe. Marketers won't mind (much).

This week, a message posted by Google + explained that a change at Gmail makes it quicker and easier to unsubscribe from unwanted email lists. “Sometimes you end up subscribed to lists that are no longer relevant to you, and combing through an entire message looking for a way to unsubscribe is no fun,” the note stated. To simplify things and save users time, Gmail is now automatically putting an “Unsubscribe” button at the top of the email, just to the right of the sender’s email address. Click it and those annoying emails you’re tired of deleting will soon go away (in theory at least).

Google made the case that the “unsubscribe option easy to find is a win for everyone. For email senders, their mail is less likely to be marked as spam and for you, you can now say goodbye to sifting through an entire message for that one pesky link.”

Not everyone is viewing the change in quite the same win-win light, however. Adweek described the Unsubscribe button as potentially “a huge blow to email marketers” because making it easier for people to unsubscribe will naturally result in more people unsubscribing. That means fewer people getting the messages of retailers, activist groups, and others that are constantly seeking ways to bolster their ranks of email list subscribers.

So this is awful for the retailers that rely on such lists to spread the word about new products and deals and thereby boost sales, right? Well, not necessarily. One email marketing expert told InternetRetailer.com that there’s an upside to the change at Gmail. On the one hand, yes, putting the Unsubscribe option in a more prominent position will put the idea into the heads of more subscribers and cause subscriber numbers to shrink. But Chad White, lead research analyst at the email marketing firm ExactTarget, said that the people who will utilize the quick Unsubscribe option are problematic subscribers to begin with. They’re the consumers who are most likely to complain about the emails and/or the company, and they’re more apt to categorize the emails as spam. Reporting an email as spam to Gmail is worse for the sender than unsubscribing, as it damages the sender’s reputation in the eyes of email providers.

“While marketers don’t want people to unsubscribe, that may be a better option than them hitting delete without reading an e-mail or hitting the Spam button,” said White. “This is the least bad option because it doesn’t hurt the sender’s reputation.”

Gmail’s Unsubscribe option has actually been around, but flying under the radar, for a few months. It was only just this week that the company introduced and explained it in a big public way. The development follows the much more significant innovation at Gmail last summer, when the service introduced a system categorizing emails into separate boxes for one’s Social, Promotions, and Primary messages. Retailers and marketers worried (and still worry) that the system segregates Promotions into an easy-to-ignore folder.

Yet as with the Unsubscribe button, some think there is an upside to Gmail’s categorization system. When the Gmail categories were introduced, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told us via email, “The segregation could actually be helpful because people can quickly scan in one place things that may/may not be relevant without having to hunt for personal emails in a sea of mixed clutter.” She also argued that the category system could help marketers reach a much more targeted audience, providing “a ‘destination’ for people that’s not unlike getting a pile of Sunday circulars.”

Now that it’s easier to unsubscribe, marketers can assume that the people who remain subscribed are more of a core group that find the messages relevant and appealing. In other words: They’re really great customers. “There are actually people who love marketing emails–that’s the reason they still stay subscribed to email lists in the first place,” said Mulpuru. “It’s very opt-in and self-selected.”

TIME Law

U.S. Judge Grants Investigators Access to Gmail Accounts in Criminal Probes

The judge says the law already supports giving investigators access to documents simply to determine whether they're warrantable or not.

A New York federal judge ruled on Friday that prosecutors have a legal right to access Gmail-based emails in criminal probes that involve money laundering, a sharp turnaround from previous rulings in comparable cases and an alarm bell for privacy advocates.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said that his decision was based on a law already on the books that allows investigators to seize documents–which Gorenstein interpreted as including emails–to determine whether data should be subject to a warrant, Reuters reports.

The big question is what happens if a user’s email account doesn’t yield any information that would justify a legal warrant, and how much public support lies behind the idea of privileging high profile investigations over personal privacy.

[Reuters]

TIME Tech

6 Tools That Will Make Your Inbox Way More Awesome

Photo: Shutterstock

Don't let the stress of a flooded inbox hold you back

themuselogo

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Your email inbox is the nerve center of your professional life. It’s your Rolodex, information repository, and primary means of communication with contacts and colleagues all wrapped into one.

But too often, just like the physical in-bin on your desk, your email inbox can get piled high with unorganized messages. When you’re confronted with a jumble of disordered memos and random dispatches every time you check your work email, you waste valuable moments just trying to locate the information you’re seeking out.

Plus, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by not enabling your inbox to perform in prime condition. A clean, uncluttered inbox can do more than receive and categorize newsletters and notes; it can amp up your contact database, streamline your to-do list, and more.

The thing is, thanks to a few cool apps and plugins, you can actually turbo-charge your email power on the cheap. Here are six tools that will keep your inbox spic-and-span and optimized for professional powerhouse status.

Any Email Provider

1. FollowUp.cc

Do you have the same bad habit I do of keeping emails you’ve already read in your inbox as a reminder for an action item? Or maybe you obsessively file emails away into folders, only to forget when you need to follow up since they’re not readily available in your inbox. Enter FollowUp.cc (available for Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL), which lets you forward your emails into the future to remind yourself to, well, follow up.

You just CC or BCC a date-specific@followup.cc email address, like “june23@followup.cc,” and when the day arrives, the email will reappear at the top of your inbox. You can even schedule regular email reminders to say, order flowers for your mom before Thanksgiving, using everynovember25@followup.cc.

2. CloudMagic

You probably spend almost as much time checking your work email on your phone as you do on your computer. But your native smartphone email app has limitations, no matter your operating system. Give CloudMagic a try; available on iOS and Android, it’s an email client that also lets you complete work while you’re checking messages.

For example, right within the app, you can see Salesforce info for contacts, create a note within Evernote, save a link to Pocket, subscribe a contact to your MailChimp newsletter, and more. You’ll be amazing how much more productive your emailing on the go gets.

Gmail Only

3. Taskforce

I’ve always wished Gmail’s built-in task manager was more robust. Taskforce addresses that need in a major way. It’s a productivity system, available for individuals and teams, that lets you slice and dice your emails into separate tasks in different workspaces, which are basically the equivalent of separate computer desktops that you can categorize however you’d like.

No more languishing emails, which lead to by-the-wayside follow-ups. No more to-dos that get lost in the sea of information. You can also tag teammates and colleagues in tasks, who will then be notified, making it easier for you to remind them how you divided up work in that confusingly long email thread.

4. Notes For Gmail

The aptly named Notes For Gmail lets you affix notes and tags to any email message. Don’t tell me you’ve never wished you could do that!

You can also pin notes to any email thread, or at the top of your sent-emails view, starred-emails view, or really anywhere else in your inbox. With a tool like this, you can turn your inbox into a personal CRM system.

5. Rapportive

You know a digital tool is working for you when you stop noticing its inclusion in your routine. Rapportive is one of those for me. It’s a free Chrome plugin that displays your contacts’ social networking information right inside your inbox.

You can connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter without even leaving Gmail, in addition to seeing a punch list of recent emails from them and recording private notes to attach to their addresses in your account (giving you a way to remember facts and information about them that will help build the relationship).

6. Gmelius

Like Gmail on steroids, Gmelius is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera that majorly boosts your Gmail experience with everything from a cleaned-up interface (no more ads!) to the ability to block email trackers to protect your privacy.

One of the most useful elements, from a work perspective, is the option to quickly categorize each email you receive or send using hashtags, which are much more easily searchable than Gmail’s built-in labels.. Another favorite feature is the automatic “Unsubscribe” button that replaces Gmail’s “Spam” button whenever Gmelius detects a mailing list.

What tools do you swear by to make your email inbox work better for you?

About the author: Allison Stadd (@AllisonStadd) works in marketing & communications and is also a freelance blogger, digital life coach, and social media consultant. She’s a fan of good books and good beer with equal enthusiasm, and when she’s not slinging tweets, pins, and posts, you’ll find her at the nearest concert hall.

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

TIME technology

Google Shaming Email Providers Into Offering Encryption

Google’s naming and shaming rival email providers, pointing out Tuesday which of its competitors don’t fully encrypt users’ email. In a new section of its Transparency Report, Google identified the email providers that use an encryption protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS), which makes it impossible for snoopers to view the content of a message as it’s being shuttled from one inbox to another.

Google says nearly half of emails sent between Gmail accounts and other email accounts aren’t fully encrypted because other companies haven’t implemented TLS.

“When you mail a letter to your friend, you hope she’ll be the only person who reads it,” Google wrote in a blog post. “Emails that are encrypted as they’re routed from sender to receiver are like sealed envelopes, and less vulnerable to snooping—whether by bad actors or through government surveillance—than postcards.”

According to Google’s data, nearly all of the messages sent from AOL, Yahoo and LinkedIn email accounts are encrypted as they travel to Gmail users. Microsoft’s Outlook.com encrypts more than 9 in 10 emails received from Gmail, but less than 9 in 10 sent to Gmail.

Some email providers with more lax security features are already taking action within hours of Google’s report. Comcast, which Google says encrypts less than 1% of emails sent to Gmail inboxes, told the Wall Street Journal that it plans to introduce better encryption “within a matter of weeks.”

Email providers have been under pressure to boost security for the past year due to ongoing revelations concerning the scope of surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency. Google is also testing a more powerful form of security, called end-to-end encryption, that it plans to eventually roll out to all Gmail users. With the service, the contents of an email would be nearly impossible for others to read not only when an email is in transit but also after it’s arrived in the recipient’s inbox. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been a vocal advocate of end-to-end encryption.

“We recognize that this sort of encryption will probably only be used for very sensitive messages or by those who need added protection,” Google wrote on its security blog. “But we hope that the End-to-End extension will make it quicker and easier for people to get that extra layer of security should they need it.”

A world where everyone uses fully-encrypted emails would actually be a huge threat to Google’s business. If Google couldn’t scan its users’ messages, the company would no longer be able to generate huge revenues by showing relevant ads in users’ inboxes.

TIME Google

Student Pass: Google Junks Gmail Ad-Scanning for Student Accounts

And that's just for starters: Google says it's planning similar changes for all its Google Apps customers, from business to government users and more.

Rejoice, ye matriculated and presently in-process-of-being-educated: Google announced on Wednesday that it would no longer ad-scan student Gmail accounts. That’s the process whereby Google’s purportedly blind algorithms rifle through your Gmail content to create you-flavored advertisements.

If a garden variety Gmail user emails something about liking a certain soft drink, for instance, chances are they’ll see a soda ad at some point or another. The presumption on Google’s part is that since it’s going to advertise to you one way or another, you might as well see stuff that’s more likely to matter to you than not.

But no more, if you’re a student, and that’s effectively the cherry on top of a pro-student dish Google’s been cobbling together for some time. In its blog post announcing the move, the company notes that “from day one” it’s turned off displaying ads by default in its Apps for Education service suite (that suite includes Gmail, Google Talk, Google Drive, Google Calendar and others). The company adds that last year, it removed ads from Google Search for K-12 users when signed in.

But those maneuvers didn’t preclude the company from scanning said services and compiling the data for future purposes — a controversial practice in its own right. Today’s move effectively pulls Google’s ad-related fingers out of Gmail for Apps for Education permanently, which — in Google’s own words — “means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.”

What’s more, the company’s also permanently removing its “enabled/disable” toggle in the Apps for Education Administrator console. If, for whatever odd reason you wanted to enable ads before, you’ll no longer have that option: ads in Apps for Education will now be mandatorily disabled for good.

Better still, Google says these education-specific changes are just the tip of the iceberg, and that it’s planning comparable changes to all its Google Apps customers, from business to government to legacy users of the free version. While it’s a far cry from Google upending advertising across all strata of its products, it’s clearly a sea change, and presumably a welcome one across the spectrum. When should you expect the post-education modifications to kick in? Google says it’ll “provide an update when the rollout is complete.”

Sidebar: Education Week is taking credit for Google’s surprise move, writing that the company is “apparently bowing to pressure from a lawsuit and an Education Week-published report revealing the practice.” Education Week cites Google’s admission a month-and-a-half ago that it was scanning millions of Apps for Education students’ emails, and mentions a federal lawsuit currently in process whose plaintiffs claim Google’s been using Apps for Education to surreptitiously target-advertise to students.

TIME Social Networking

Gmail Lets Users Share Images Auto-Uploaded from Their Phones

With help from Gmail, Google+ photos finally get social.

My friends and family probably don’t know this, but I have photos of them on Google+ stretching all the way back to October 2011, when I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II and set up automatic photo backups.

These photos aren’t public, and the vast majority of them are visible to no one except me. That’s because I haven’t bothered to share them.

The reason is not complicated: Most of the people I know don’t actively use Google+, so sorting through and sharing my photos on Google’s social network would be a waste of time. Still, I auto-upload my photos anyway, using Google’s unlimited storage (for images of 2048 pixels or less) as a glorified backup service.

The recent addition of Google+ photo attachments in Gmail may be a sign that Google has recognized the fate of its own network. Instead of forcing people to share photos through Google+, Google is now letting Gmail users attach photos directly to their messages, using a new “Insert Photo” button at the bottom of the email. As a way of sharing photos I’ve snapped from my phone, it’s incredibly convenient.

Google

I will be considerably more likely to share my auto-uploaded photos over email than Google+. Sharing images via email is more private, more convenient and less proprietary. I know my recipients won’t have to visit Google+ or even have a Gmail account to view the images I send. And on my end, I’ll no longer have to wade through the Google+ interface just to find a photo, download it and re-upload it again.

There are now more ways than ever to auto-upload photos to Google+. The latest version of Android includes a new “Photos” app, separate from the main Google+ app, that can automatically upload camera images. In December, Google released an auto-backup desktop app for Windows and Mac. And in October, the Google+ iOS app gained background uploads, allowing users to back up their photos without having to periodically re-open the app.

But without a good way to share those photos, users are essentially stuffing their pictures in a dusty closet, and Google is just wasting server space. By liberating automatic photo uploads from Google+, Gmail is making those photos more social than they ever were on Google’s social network.

 

 

 

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