Using mail rules and tags

I always hear people say stuff like I was only gone for 4 days and I came back to 300 emails in my inbox. There is not an inbox which would not benefit from using message filtering/tagging.

Some people have said they do not sort mail into folders any more but just use the gmail labelling like folders. I use gmail all the time and I use labelling and it is a very viable solution.

For pop3 (downloaded) email I still like the order of having them in folders; I use tags (Categories in Outlook) – they have been a revelation since I discovered them in 06. Here are some techniques to improve the inbox madness:

  • Create sub folders within your inbox with relevant names, like colleagues, departments, friends, project names, etc.
  • Create rules to move incoming mail to these folders, Eg. :
    • All email received from certain people
    • All email containing these words in the subject; so if you are sending an email out that you expect to get replies to, add a rule for it
  • Create a New tag to show all unread messages in all folders (status isn’t read) and save the results to a folder called “New”. As you read your email then you tag all messages you want to respond to appropriately. You can exclude searching folders which get lots of email if you don’t need to check them.
  • Create a “ToDo” tag to show all tagged messages (tag isn’t none) in all relevant folders and save the results to a folder called “ToDo”

As email comes into your inbox, you can adjust your filters so that next to no mail/once off & don’t want to save mail is all that’s there. Your new inbox is now your “New” folder and as you add your tags you will automatically have the messages you want to deal with listed.

To keep an eye on your tags and make sure they do not get out of hand, you should turn on the option to activate the unread message count for all mail folders, for some saved search folders like ToDo & Wait I used total count rather than tootal unread count. In Outlook you can right click a folder and select to show total number of unread / total count. In Thunderbird go to View|Toolbars and select “Folder Pane Columns”.

I started using getthunderbird in the jmid naughties, moving from Outlook Express and I’m still very happy with it As described above, you can (colour code) tag any message as ToDo / Next / Wait / Important / Personal you can save tagged messages to a folder as described above, this will update as you tag new messages. Just superb.