Like the idea of GMail’s Priority Inbox, but you’ve already got “Multiple Inboxes” and you don’t want to loose them?

That’s the position I’m in. Because I use my Android phone for e-mail a lot, and so I don’t want my phone to beep every 5 minutes, I set up a huge bundle of filters to shunt my e-mail into various labels, for the social groups I belong to, for my SVN commits and ticket tracking, to prioritize emails from friends and family.

OK, so technically, GMail’s Priority Inbox should automagically do some of this for me, but, well, I wanted more!

So, I thought I’d write up some short notes on how to use Priority Inbox in a way that might actually be useful.

First, turn on Priority Inbox. It’s a simple radio button, found under “Settings” -> “Priority Inbox” -> “Show Priority Inbox”. This will probably make you reload your GMail session.

Next, go back to the “Priority Inbox” settings page, and set your “Default Inbox” to “Inbox”. I like as much information as possible in my GMail screen, so I’ve got the indicators turned on and I’m overriding the filters (I don’t know if this is useful or not, but, why not, eh?)

Save your changes. Again, I’m guessing this will reload your GMail session.

Go into “Settings” -> “Multiple Inboxes” (feel free to turn it on under Labs first, if it’s not already there).

Before Priority Inbox, I had two “new” inboxes – “All Unread” and “Muted” (so that I can mark-all-as-read those mails I’d already muted but that kept on being noisy!). These two inboxes sat underneath my main inbox, but as “Priority Inbox” is supposed to go above all that lot, it’s not going to be much use after the main Inbox. So, I’ve changed my Multiple Inboxes now as follows:

  1. (in:important OR is:starred) AND is:unread [Called “Priority Inbox”]
  2. in:inbox AND -in:important AND is:unread [Called “Inbox Unread”]
  3. -in:inbox AND -in:important AND -is:muted AND is:unread [Called “Unread Other”]
  4. is:muted is:unread [Called “Muted”]

These are all configured to show 20 messages, and to sit above the Inbox. I’ll accept, there is some waste with having the inbox at the bottom of the screen, and again part way up, but at least now, my messages are sorted (nearly) the way Google intended them to be ;)

Oh, and one nice feature from doing it this way, if an “Important” message isn’t quite important enough to disturb you on your phone (and thus is “archived” before being filed into your e-mail folders), it’ll still show up, in that top bit there… it just won’t be disturbing your sleep until you check your mailbox when you get up.


He/Him. Husband and father. Linux advocating geek. Co-Host on the AdminAdmin Podcast, occasional conference speaker.

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