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Is there a way to save your Gmail Inbox stuff forever without manually archiving everything? Until now I just use a filter to archive just every mail (filter:"-asdfqewrlqjwzxcvasfjr"). The advantage of that method is that I never lose a mail that might be important later. But there is also a big disadvantage of not beeing able to use the inbox properly. If you always work in the Archive box you just have everything there: Important Mails, unimportant mails, read, unread, written. That is just very unefficient. So now I wonder if there might be a better way.

Short: I'd really like to use the smart inbox of Gmail AND be able to read all these mails even years later if nessesary. How to do that?

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Obviously there are no rules about this, but a sensible way to use Gmail features would be:

  • Leave email in the inbox if it still requires action (some kind of reply or action on your part)
  • Archive email once it no longer requires action on your part
  • Use the star to flag important messages
  • Use labels to categorize messages
  • Delete messages you will not need in the future

In this way, the inbox is thought of as your to-do list. Anything in your inbox is something you need to deal with. "Dealing with it" could be replying, researching for more information about something, categorizing for later reference, etc. As you go through your messages, you deal with them then archive them once you've taken the necessary action.

If you need to find an old message you've already "dealt with", you can either search for it (the preferred way), or you can look through the starred messages or through your labels.

Labels and stars are for categorization. The "inbox" label performs the same function as a physical inbox sitting on your desk: It's a list of things you need to do. You don't store things in your inbox, you deal with them then route them wherever they need to go.

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