Google reveals ‘Priority Inbox’ feature for Gmail

31 Aug 2010

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The pressures of the modern world, such as information overload and email indigestion, may be resolved through a new Priority Inbox feature for Gmail that creates a new category for only important email. Hallelujah!

“Our inboxes are slammed with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of messages a day – mail from colleagues, from lists, about appointments and automated mail that’s often not important. It’s time consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply,” wrote software engineer Doug Aberdeen in the official Google blog this morning.

Gmail has always employed a strong filtering system that has been very effective at blocking unwanted junk mail and spam.

The search giant has gone further by developing the filter to not only classify outright spam but to allow users to separate the important stuff.

“Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules,” said Aberdeen.

He went on: “As messages come in, Gmail automatically flags some of them as important. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, including the people you email most (if you email Bob a lot, a message from Bob is probably important) and which messages you open and reply to (these are likely more important than the ones you skip over).

“And as you use Gmail, it will get better at categorising messages for you. You can help it get better by clicking the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ buttons at the top of the inbox to correctly mark a conversation as important or not important.

“You can even set up filters to always mark certain things important or unimportant, or rearrange and customise the three inbox sections.”

Aberdeen said that Priority Inbox will be rolling out to all Gmail users and Google Apps users over the coming week with a “New! Priority Inbox” link appearing in the top right corner of users’ Gmail account.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com