gmail priority inboxEarlier this week, Google launched Gmail Priority Inbox, a new feature that will automatically sort your mail to combat email overload. The feature began rolling out to users on Monday, and as of today, it’s available for all Gmail users (including Google Apps accounts).

As VentureBeat’s Anthony Ha (who loves the service probably more than is healthy) writes: “The feature divides your inbox into three areas, all viewable in one screen — at the top, there’s the “priority” emails, the ones you should read first; below that are the emails you have starred (an existing Gmail feature to mark emails as important); and the inbox with everything else.”

To activate the feature, click the “New! Priority Inbox” link in the top-right corner of your Gmail screen.

I finally gained access to Priority Inbox on my personal Gmail account last night and instantly fell in love with it as well. At first, it managed to do a decent job of sorting my important emails. After a bit more training this morning, it’s now correctly landing pretty much all of my important messages. It’s also nice to have access to starred messages right inside the inbox, instead of waiting for another page to load.

It’s certainly going to take some getting used to for some, but for me, it seems to be a logical extension of the way I’ve always used Gmail. Like many, I started out with an elaborate system of filters and labels. But over time, I got lazy about filtering, and just relied on picking out the important messages in my inbox by eye. I never tidy up my inbox, so less important messages stay unread and never get archived.

Now with Priority Inbox, the important stuff floats to the top, and I can just ignore the other mail as always. With Gmail’s increasing storage sizes, I’m not too concerned about deleting unwanted messages. And after becoming an iPhone user, I’ve learned it’s much more useful for iPhone searching to keep mail in my inbox, rather than archiving it.

Now that the iPhone finally has threaded mail conversations built-in, Priority Inbox will be yet another feature that iPhone users won’t have access to in their mail client. Meanwhile, Google can easily update its Android Gmail app to take advantage of it. (Gmail’s web client doesn’t support it yet, but even when it does, it won’t be as useful as a mail client with the feature.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some users make the Android jump for this feature alone.


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