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What is the difference between "Important" and "Starred" message in GMail Priority Inbox?

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They appear to be separate "categories" - you can have starred messages, important (use the +/- buttons to toggle) messages, and you can have important messages that are starred. I find it quite easy to use - Google tries to work out what's important for you, while stars are manually set, either by filters or added yourself.

What is interesting to note is that your Priority Inbox can split the important email from the starred email - and that you can decide which to show (or not).

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The difference is that "starred" messages are those that you have explicitly added a star to; "important" messages are those that the system, via an algorithm, believes are important.

While you can manually mark messages as important (or unimportant), what you're really doing is providing the algorithm with more information so that it can be more intelligent about which future messages it marks "important".

What you actually do with this information is up to you. For me, I use the "important" designation to prioritize the messages I read in my inbox. I "star" messages that I don't want to keep unread in my inbox but which I don't want to lose track of, either because it's something I need to do or which will be obsolete in the near future.

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Important is algorithmically pre-categorized by Gmail, while Starred is manually post-categorized by the user.

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