August 30, 2010
We all hate email overload. Web-based email programs like Gmail have built-in smart spam filtering and advanced labelling, but you can still miss important emails if you receive hundreds per day.
In an attempt to solve this problem, Gmail software engineers have today launched the Priority InBox.
Basically, this is an advanced sorting tool for your incoming mail. Your new Gmail InBox will be divided into three sections: Priority InBox (unread), Starred Emails and Everything Else. Based on a variety of signals about the importance of an email, Gmail will flag it and move it to the top section of your InBox, giving it priority over all other mail.
For example, if you are in daily email contact with a person, Gmail will determine that emails from that person are important and should always arrive in your Priority InBox.
You can also manually promote or demote emails to/from your Priority InBox by using the “+” and “-” buttons provided. You can use filtering to control your Priority InBox and you can customize the three InBox sections to suit your needs.
The longer you use Gmail, the smarter the Priority InBox gets at sorting your mail. From the official blog post:
“Gmail has always been pretty good at filtering junk mail into the “spam” folder. But today, in addition to spam, people get a lot of mail that isn’t outright junk but isn’t very important ‘bologna’, or ‘bacn’. So we’ve evolved Gmail’s filter to address this problem and extended it to not only classify outright spam, but also to help users separate this “bologna” from the important stuff. In a way, Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules.”
In a side note, news of Priority InBox was leaked early, despite a strict media embargo that was meant to be in place until this evening. Maybe it’s just me, but a media embargo seem ridiculous in the age of social and real time search. A media embargo from Google, the foremost advocates of social and real time search just seems ludicrous. But anyway, I digress.
While internal Google staff and some BETA testers have been trialling Priority InBox for some months, the feature will begin rolling out to all Gmail and Google Apps users over the next week or so. You’ll know if you have the new feature if you see the “New! Priority Inbox” link in the top right corner of your Gmail account.