To Prevent Email Overload, Gmail Rolls out Priority Inbox
Article by George Norman
On 31 Aug 2010
The good thing about email is that it allows us to communicate with one another. Have something to say to Bob from accounting, you can simply send him an email (I know, I don’t want to call him up on the phone either). After Bob gets your message, he can reply via email. It is all very convenient.

The annoying thing is that from time to time you will be overwhelmed by the amount of email making its way to your inbox. Mountain View-based search engine giant Google is well aware of this and sympathizes. As Software Engineer with Google, Doug Aberdeen explained, “our inboxes are slammed with hundreds, sometimes thousands of messages a day.”


But Google isn’t just sympathizing with all the Gmail users out there, it is actually doing something to help users tackle email overload. Google is helping out by releasing Priority Inbox, a new technology that finds the important messages and sorts them for you. The new technology, which is still in Beta and is being rolled out gradually, is based on Gmail’s spam filters.

“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,” explained Doug Aberdeen.

Priority Inbox works by splitting your inbox in three sections:
  • Important and unread – this is the important email that you need to take a look at.
  • Starred – not so important stuff that you will like to read at a later time.
  • Everything else – the rest of your emails, pretty much everything that is not important.

Take the “send an email to Bob” from above. If you regularly send emails to Bob, or if Bob regularly sends you emails and you reply to them, then Priority Inbox will flag emails from Bob as important and put them in the “Important and unread” section.

To help messages make it to the “Important and unread” section, you can increase their importance. To kick messages out of this section, you can lower a message’s importance.

Click the image below for a video presentation of Priority Inbox.

Tags: Google, Gmail, Priority Inbox
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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