What labels do you use in Gmail?
March 1, 2006 8:23 AM   Subscribe

What labels do you use in Gmail? I feel like I have too many labels for my Gmail account and there is too much overlap between them. What are the best sets of labels?

Here's my labels,* and I think some could be added, some removed, some renamed:
  • Accounts - registration emails for websites, bills
  • Business - anything 'business' related (but not work, that's another email address altogether), like side consulting jobs, family
  • [Church] - church group listserv
  • [Condo Association] - I'm on the board
  • Family - any email from or related to my family
  • Forwards - some interesting forwards (I can't wait for Bill Gates and AOL to pay be $24,756!!!!1)
  • [Fraternity] - alumni listserv, local chapter alumni board
  • [Fraternity 2] - regional alumni association, I'm on the board
  • Home & Loans - mortgage, gas/electric bills, conto questions
  • [Hometown] - kind of like personal, but emails from friends from home and related to my highschool (reunions, etc)
  • Orders - any online order (Amazon, ebay, etc.)
  • [Part time job] - self explanitory
  • Personal - kind of a catch all for emails from friends from where I live now or my hometown
  • Politics - messages from a few lists related to politics
  • [Project] - a project I'm involved with
  • Recipe - a file of recipes
  • Travel - details of travel plans (flight confirmations, etc)
  • [University] - Alumni assoc emails, mostly
  • Website - anything related to domain registration, hosting, etc. Often get labeled with the [fraternity] or other label
  • X - messages from my ex-girlfriend (should I delete these?)
*Labels in [] genericized
posted by pithy comment to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I use names, mainly, but I'm writing to people, not to things.

Overlap is fine. A message logically can be a member of several groups. You might want to list things one way, then another, then another, and it might make sense that certain messages are in all three groups.

Labels are flexible: you can add and delete as needed.
posted by pracowity at 8:42 AM on March 1, 2006

I am a librarian but I'm not YOUR librarian. (actually I guess I could be). There is no "best" set of labels because everyone needs to organize their stuff differently. The best labels are the ones that let you file and find what you want while helping get messages out of your face and interfering with the inflow of messages. It's also okay if they overlap -- we're NOT talking about folders here, labels are a lot more like tags, with inbox and trash just being another sort of tag.

That said mine are these: ala*, ana*, aus, dobbs*, f [friends], fam [family], forms, greg, job/work, mf, pix, support, travel, vt*, vtlib*, who*, wiki*

All the ones with asterisks hold mailing lists. Pix and support and forms are multi-purpose - I use them to tag emails that have those values. This works for me, this may not work for you.
posted by jessamyn at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2006

Response by poster: Perhaps what I'm looking for is particular advice on "personal" because it ends up being more of a catch all for emails between friends, etc. Is there a better way to break this label apart for increased organization?
posted by pithy comment at 9:37 AM on March 1, 2006

The key for gmail is to have a few labels as possible - e-mails should have one or two, MAYBE three tags and you should make good use of google's search capability.

My tags are:
-account spam (for random online account e-mails)
-orders (for online order confirmations)
-research (research related e-mail)
-school (for ALL school related stuff)

Some tips on effective gmail use:

I know either 43 folders or lifehacker had a post about this sort of thing, but I don't know what it said... I tried searching for about 20mins, can't find it.
posted by sablazo at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2006

-Names of people from whom I get a lot of email
-Banking & Bills
-Categories for groups of people from whom I do not get a lot of mail from the individual people, but from the group, there is a lot (so "online gaming friends" and "trivia")
-Political Groups (broken out if there is a lot for one particular group)
-Online Ordering (email recpts for stuff I order online)

There are other, smaller ones, but I don't really think you can have too many labels. Your list looks reasonable to me. It's like adding tags to your messages, so be liberal with it. It will just make things easier to find (in my expierience it does, anyway).
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:08 AM on March 1, 2006

-must reply (for emails that I know need a reply but for whatever reason can't/won't reply to just yet)
-awaiting reply (emails that I must follow up on if I don't get a reply in a reasonable time span)
-welcome (for emails containing sign-up info)
-financial (for emails containing billing information)
posted by Pigpen at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2006

ActionRequired for anything that still needs doing. Great for procrastinators who hate cluttering their inbox.
posted by MrZero at 11:05 AM on March 1, 2006

I think it's tough to say without more information and without being inside your mind to see how you would naturally organize things.

You could try just writing out an organization scheme on paper. Keep going until you're satisfied, then implement it. You'll probably still find a few more tweaks that need to be done, but planning it out before should help.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:21 AM on March 1, 2006

Best answer: My advice on breaking up the "Personal" is to use the Contacts menu instead; that way you can search for mail from particular people without cluttering your label list.

To cut down on labels, you could make [Fraternity] into a single label,
combine Travel and Orders into a single Shopping,
Put [PT job] into Business,
put Home and [Condo Assoc.] into a single House,
get rid of [Hometown] since they're all in Personal,
and make a single label called Listserves for ALL the listserves, which would mean you could get rid of the labels Politics and Church, and you'd probably have a cross-reference with [Fraternity].
I also suggest crating a single label of Bills that would incorporate part of the House label and part of the Accounts label. You could then get rid of the Accounts label, because everything else might fit into Website, especially if you make that more generic, like Online Orgs.
And get rid of the X label. Contacts ought to work for that.

For those of you who got lost/confused, that would leave pithy comment with these new labels:
Bills, Business, Family, Forwards, [Frat], House, Listserves, Online Orgs, Personal, [Project], Recipe, [Uni].
That's 12, down from 20.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2006

I actually prefer to have more labels, but have most of the messages not personally addressed to me skip the inbox. The labels sidebar displays the number of unread messages.

but i may be an exception, since i'm a member of near 40-50 professional / organizational / school listservs, and administer about 15 of them; and I'm also on several news lists, as well as a couple freecycle lists. I had tried lumping a bunch of them under a single label, but then i never would read the ones i had lumped.
posted by eustatic at 11:54 AM on March 1, 2006

My theory is that 99% of what I used to use folders for I can now use Gmail searching for. Looking for a message from Bugzilla? Search for "from:bugzilla-daemon". Looking for a message in a mailing list? Search for "[Mailinglistname]", or whatever. I only use labels for things that are hard (or impossible) to search for. E3, Orders, Job Search. I could probably have more, but that works for me.
posted by Plutor at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2006

I use tons of labels :

One for each person I communicate with, a rule set up to auto label.

Listservs get auto labeled and skip the inbox.

Login/pass emails are labeled 'accounts' and also labeled with site name for any further emails.

I have a 'me' label that is auto-applied to any emails that I send to myself, these are also starred to indicate if they are done or not.

I also Append 1a ,1b etc to my most used labels to keep them at the top of my label list
posted by grex at 12:10 PM on March 1, 2006

I only assign labels for groupings that aren't easily searchable. For example, I'm discovering that labelling emails coming from one source (like listservs or individual friends) just creates pointless clutter: you may as well just search for that sort of thing.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2006

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