The other night I wrote an explanation for Caole, my ex-wife, of Gmail’s labeling capability. If you have a Gmail account, you may find it helpful to you as well, so I am copying the relevant part of my message to her here. If you don’t have a Gmail account and would like one, feel free to email me (my address is in the About Me page) and I’ll be glad to send you an invitation.
Now, for today’s “lesson.”
Last night I mentioned the concept of Labels to you. Labels are Gmail’s way of letting you apply some organization to the email you receive. Most email programs permit you to move messages from your inbox into a folder, analogous to putting a piece of correspondence into a folder and sticking it in a file drawer. Gmail’s approach is superior to that because messages often belong in more than one folder and, while you can make a copy of messages and put them into multiple folders, doing so takes up more storage space. So Gmail uses Labels instead, which means that you can apply as many labels as you think you need to each message.
When I set up your account I created a few labels (to get you started), three of them if I recall. There was Family Correspondence, Instructional, and Travel, again if memory serves. (I also set up a couple of filters which I’ll cover in another message at some time, but for now a filter is a way of applying labels or taking other actions automatically, based on some predetermined rules that you set up . But more about that later.)
It’s easy to apply a label to a message. Just look above this message and you’ll see a “drop down box” that says More Actions. If you click the down arrow beside that, you’ll see the labels that have already been defined in the list. For instance, for this message, you would choose “Instructional.” Do that now to see what I mean. Now notice that this message has two labels applied to it — Family Correspondence (that was applied by the filter) and Instructional. Those labels are indicated by the green text at the top of the message. Do you see that? Good.
At the moment you only have three labels defined, the ones that I created to begin with, but you can create as many labels as are meaningful to you. In that same drop down box, one of the choices is “New Label.” So when you choose that, you can define a new label and thereafter it will appear in the drop down list for you to choose and apply as needed. Don’t worry about applying too many labels to a message. You can add as many as you need, and then you can look for the message under that label. Just click on the label name in the list of labels on the left, and there you’ll find all the messages identified by that label. Clever, huh?
So now that you’ve applied all the labels you think you need to this message, you can get it out of your inbox. You do that by clicking on the Archive button at the top of it. That will remove it from the inbox, but it won’t be lost. It will be in the All Mail list, and it will also be listed under each of the labels it has.