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In these icons, some have two >'s, others one or none. What are the meanings behind these icons (highlighted in yellow)?

I know that clicking on them marks the conversation as important, but what do the >'s mean?

Gmail icons

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

They are called “Personal level indicators” and show you at a glance whether you were the only recipient ( » ) or there were more than one ( › ). They can be turned on/off from the settings page.

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Funny thing is I must have turned that on at some point. –  Louis Jul 27 '12 at 5:18
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To add to @Alex's answer: the 'hollow' arrows themselves (the figures containing › or ») are the actual 'important' indicators. They are yellow/gold-colored if Gmail considers the message important, and are empty (white color fill) when unimportant by Gmail's algorithms. This only to point out that the personal level indicators and the importance indicators are two separate options, but appear in the UI as one combined option.

This importance mechanism can also be turned on/off in GMail Settings - Inbox.

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