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?

  • Voting to close because Web-Services are Off-Topic on SU.
    – Bobby
    Dec 7 '10 at 8:29
  • Bobby, where are there ontopic? I thought a lot about where to post that...
    – erikb
    Dec 7 '10 at 8:56
  • @Marek: Well, because it's quite annoying and a click more then I actually want to spend on these mails. I changed to that mode after forgetting it once on a very, very important mail. Better storing too much then too little. Diskspace is cheap! Maybe that's the wrong way. But I'm the only one in my circles who actually uses Gmail, so I have to find out by myself (or actually asking guys like you, like I do now).
    – erikb
    Dec 7 '10 at 8:57
  • @erikb Stop clicking, start using keyboard shortcuts! It really saves a lot of time. mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=6594 Dec 7 '10 at 9:19
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    @erikb Don't try to memorize all the shortcuts at once; just start with a few most useful for you. I suggest: y to archive a message from Inbox, r to reply and # to move a message to Trash really speed up the process of reading mail. Dec 7 '10 at 10:57

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.

  • If I understand you correctly Stephen, you suggest to manually archive to save mails forever?
    – erikb
    Dec 7 '10 at 9:00
  • well you don't have to "manually archive" anything, just make sure to stay away from the delete button
    – phunehehe
    Dec 7 '10 at 11:34
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    All the "Archive" button does is remove the Inbox label from the mail message.
    – ale
    Dec 7 '10 at 14:38
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    @erikb What are you referring to when you say "manually archive"? You make it sound like a laborious task, but the archive button is easily accessible above the message window. To answer your question directly, yes, and I added some explanation to my answer. Dec 7 '10 at 15:06

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