The way I use Gmail

I see a lot of tutorials about optimizing your Gmail inbox. These are great but often target an audience that receive and send a lot of emails. I consider myself a power-user but I cannot say that I’m an heavy-user of emails. I only send a few emails a day and receive rarely more than 10 (after filering). This did not stop my love for tweaking things.

The way I use Gmail is pretty simple: I aggregate all my email accounts (google apps and externals) into my main one. I use filters to automatically label them with the account name. I have also setuped multiple sending addresses and their associated signatures (Gmail supports one signature per sending address).

I also use filters to automatically categorize mails. You can create sub-labels using a slash (eg. Work/Bugs).

Finally, I use the priority inbox layout but without the priority stuff! With the low volume email I get, I didn’t find the priority feature to be useful enough. The good part however is that you can customize the sections of the inbox.

Here is what my inbox looks like:

My Gmail inbox

Aggregating all your emails

I think this is one of the best feature of Gmail. It allows me to get into a single inbox mails from work, my former school, my failed startup or deprecated email addresses. I don’t think I could handle going to at least 4 different inboxes just to check my mail.

When the email account belongs to a Google Apps domain, I use the forwarding feature of Gmail to keep a copy of the mail in the inbox and forward another to my main account.

Forwarding mails

For other accounts, I use the Check mail using POP3 feature from the main account, located under Accounts and Import.

Checking mail using POP3

I’ve added all the aggregated accounts under the Send mail as section too. For addresses that are not merely aliases, I always provide an smtp server when adding a new Send mail as email. This prevents the recipient from seeing a notice like “This mail was sent on the behalf of …”. I also do it for Google Apps accounts (using and the email as username).

Send mail as

Finally, I’ve created filters to automatically label emails depending on the account they come from.

Using priority inbox differently

As I said before, the priority feature of Gmail was not really doing it for me. I found that I constantly had to define which mail was important or not. I can easily handle the low volume of email I get everyday anyway.

However, when going through the options of priority inbox, I found that you could set a section of the inbox to display mails from a label. This is absolutly perfect. My inbox is now split into 4 sections (the maximum): unread mails (which is hidden automatically), starred mails, mails from work and everything else.

Inbox settings

Gmail is really the greatest email client I’ve ever used. I tried a lot of them and did a lot of research on open source webmails when working on Novaden but I liked none of them as much as I do with Gmail. However, and as always, it’s the tweaking that made it the best email client for me. Always try to customize the things you use on a daily basis, you will enjoy it even more!

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