How to organize email from a particular sender?
February 8, 2015 5:12 PM   Subscribe

With my gmail account I am in frequent contact with a particular individual. So frequent that our emails are kind of a mess, and I want to know if I can organize them in any way.

With this individual I am frequently asking questions, replying to her questions, and we both exchange files with one another regularly. We both also tend to reply to one email multiple times, with multiple files eventually attached down a long chain. Sometimes I need to go back and look at an older file (which are Excel, Word, PDFs), but it's often a needle in a haystack. I use the search function but the results are usually not helpful--the search results seem list them by random date, and some emails don't show up at all.

Is there anything within Gmail or elsewhere that can help me organize my mail? Especially with attached files--what I'd like is a place where they are all lined up in a row, organized by date sent/received. Is this possible?
posted by zardoz to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The problem you're likely running into is that Google is enforcing their conversations view of the world. When you get the search results back, they're based on the date of the newest email in the conversation, rather than the date of the email you actually care about.

You could set up a desktop client that allows sorting by date instead of enforcing conversations to download your email (choose to leave copies of your downloaded email on the gmail server, so you also have access to them in gmail) to your desktop and then sort it there. I can't recommend a specific one, but there are tons of options out there, ranging from free to 'must by a Microsoft Office licence' in terms of price. Pretty much any desktop email client is going to offer what you need in terms of date sorting.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:26 PM on February 8, 2015


Gmail's Advanced search options

I make heavy use of labels. You can set up filters to automatically apply labels. I usually start by selecting a message that is representative of what I want and select more->filter messages like this rather than trying to make a filter from scratch.

Combining advanced search with regular search works. So you can say "before:10/12/13 has:attachment fred" which will find emails before the date that have an attachment, etc..

I also star messages if I know that I'm going to want to refer back to them later, especially for shorter emails that are more "needle-like" when I'm searching. (is:starred + whatever search terms you can remember)

Finally, the "conversation" view can simply be disabled if it's making life hard. It's under settings.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:32 PM on February 8, 2015


You can use a filter in Gmail to add a label like "work attachment" to all the emails that come from your boss that have an attachment. (a from: argument and a "has:attachment" argument.

Then you can use IFTTT to create a recipe specifying that whenever you label an email with that label it saves that attachment to Google Drive (or another service). That would give you all the attachments in one place in the cloud saved by date.

You'd have to test it to see what the names end up looking like and how it handles duplicated names.
posted by Jahaza at 7:55 PM on February 8, 2015


Thanks everyone for the answers. Teatimegrommit's suggestion to just turn off conversations--something I wasn't really aware of and didn't know you could turn it off--is a great first step. That decouples all the e-mail chains and treats each one discreetly. Which is so much more manageable, even if it means more email to sift through. I'll look into the other solutions as well.
posted by zardoz at 8:31 PM on February 8, 2015


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