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Inbox Tamer

For anybody who hasn't done it yet, try forwarding your email—all of it—to a webmail interface like, say, Gmail. I'm not endorsing Google's mail service per se but I do use it.

I think I have over a dozen email addresses and trying to pick up my mail—especially when traveling—is just easier when it all in one webmail place. Plus, I let the Gmail people worry about viruses (other than the ones that try to get me to spill my life's information to some hack and, well, we don't do that anymore - do we?!)

Why so many email addresses? I don't know. It just happened. They seem to accumulate over the years. If they go to one service, however, you can see them all in one window, one click, and deal with the many inboxes in one place.

Gmail's spam filter works pretty good and now they are announcing design changes that will "help people quickly sort through their messages to determine which ones are important and which ones could wait until later." Okay, they are going to think for us. I guess that's okay.

Their intuitive algorithm will help decide how incoming emails should be filtered and sorted. The default is three categories that appear as separate tabs:

  • The primary tab contains the e-mails that the service thinks are most important.
  • Another tab will sort your social networking stuff. Not much actual thinking required there.
  • The promotions tab will contain emails that by their very category may sound spam-mish however will actually store newsletters, news feeds, stuff like that.

The best part however is the ability to create custom tabs that will allow the user to sort incoming the way they want. That sounds most useful of all.

There has been a plethora of email management applications but they all require installing a program on the users machine. Now this kind of organization will be available online, anywhere, all the time, no program installation required. Will others compete with the new Google service? Oh, they will; they do.

This soon-to-be-available functionality was just recently announced by Google but in posing the subject while at dinner with a ‘guru’-status friend I was immediately reminded that these sort of apps are already available for smart phones like iPhone for instance. He purchased and loaded the application, loved being able to sort his emails on his smart device while traveling through his day without having to read the messages immediately. He just sorts and prioritizes them so that he can read the most important first when he lands at home in front of his desktop, very organized. Cool, but don't forget that having that functionality always online would allow him to do that from any device, any time.

Again, I was reminded that I don't have a smart phone, will likely be one of the last in America to get one. (My wife has two Kindle Fire devices, one for each hand.)

But, getting back to the Gmail thing, being able to further define the placement of incoming mail so that I can filter through what I want to read first and so forth, is great. I won't have to install any applications and I won't have to "spam" those jokes that come from well-meaning folks who I wish would NOT do that anymore. I can categorize so that if later quizzed on the joke's content I can easily refresh myself . . . ugh.

I guess in a perfect world you could have your email forwarded, after sorting, to say, Hotmail and then forward that to Yahoo or some other service to sort your mail so many different ways to see how the artificial intelligence at each service decides to sort you. No, actually, on second thought . . .

Google says "The new in-box will begin rolling out for the desktop first, and eventually be available on mobile and tablet applications." Oh, goody, me first.

But if you haven't yet—just try it. Try that forwarding email thing.


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