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New Gmail Filter Hacks

New Gmail Filter Hacks

We can make this a running discussion of uses for Gmail’s Filter feature. It’s a simple tool that makes organizing your emails a breeze, and importantly, automatic. Today we’ll focus on three topics: Storage, Bookmarking and Organization [GTD].

Either in Settings or next to Gmail’s search box, is a link to Create a Filter.

  • When adding a filter we enter some parameters like who the email is from or what the subject line contains etc.
  • Next step, we check Skip the Inbox, add the Label we want the email to be sorted to, check Apply to conversations below and Create Filter.

That’s a simple process that we will repeat for the following hacks.

New Gmail Filter Hacks

    Storage

    There are two handy programs out there that turn that free 2.something gig on your Gmail account into real space. This is great to keep certain files mobile and accessible.

    GSpace is a firefox extension that creates a direct link through your browser to that disk space. It will create an icon in your status bar that, when clicked, will open a dialog box to add and extract files from.

    You can drag files directly from your browser, but it’s somewhat temperamental. However, this extension’s strength lies in the ability to manage multiple Gmail accounts.

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    Gmail Drive is a “Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google Gmail account,” to quote the website. This enables you to use your Gmail storage as another drive on your computer.

    This works very well and enables you to throw any filetype in there – you just need to login. Since we’ve created another drive, you can treat it as such and organize files into folders.

    Each time you add a file to your Gmail drive, via either application, it will show up in your inbox as another email. So instead, we create a few filters so your inbox isn’t filled with emails each time a file is uploaded.

    Each file added from the Firefox extension will come into Gmail, as an email, with “GSPACE” in the subject line. So create a filter with “GSPACE” as the subject, and a Label called something like Drive.

    The same applies for the Gmail Drive uploads, however, use a filter with the subject line, “GMAILFS”. Now, here’s the good bit.

    If you do happen to upload files into separate folders on the drive – MP3s, Documents etc – we can create a different label for each, so your files are not only organized inside the drive, but also out on your Gmail.

    All we need to do is append GMAILFS with the folder name ie: “GMAILFS: /mp3s/” filtered to a label called MP3s. There is no way to create a label hierarchy, so labels should be used more like tags.

    With Gmail Drive you can move existing files around into new folders. Keep in mind, a new email will be sent through for each change.

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    Bookmarking

    This hack relies on a site called RSSFWD.com or something like it. There you can forward any RSS feed to your email, without having to register. Each update will come through to your email with the feed’s post as it’s content.

    A handy way to keep all your bookmarks stored in Gmail – with the added benefit of Gmail’s search – is to use your bookmark’s feed through RSSFWD so all your bookmarks come through your Gmail.

    I use my del.icio.us account so each site I tag, will come through. All I really have to do is create a filter for anything from del.icio.us to be archived in a label called Bookmarks.

    The beauty here is, say I use a range of bookmarking sites, I can have all of them stored in one place.

    Organization or GTD

    There is already a Firefox extension called GTDinbox that implements GTD styled filters and organization within Gmail. You can send yourself tasks, keep track of outstanding tasks and even print HipsterPDA-friendly index cards. Also 43Folders suggested this kind of filtering back in 2004, so it’s not a new idea.

    However, it’s worth mentioning a few things that may not have been covered yet.

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    First of all, it should be mentioned that creating your own GTD Gmail is as simple as setting your labels [ToDo, Someday/Maybe, Projects etc] and creating filters using the username+ function.

    For example: Anything I send to username+todo@gmail.com will get filtered off to my ToDo list. Add information and links that may help the task and just delete tasks as they are completed.

    If you need a reminder for a future event or task, you can Add Event Info to any email and specify a date for the task to occur. If you have Notifications set to Email in your Google Calendar settings, you will be reminded to act on the email at that time.

    New Gmail Filter Hacks - Label Search

      Let’s look back at the RSSFWD program. We can integrate a lot of things with Gmail, as long as there is an RSS Feed.

      Twitter

      Try Twitter. It’s all the rage and has a feed.

      Create a Twitter account just for your tasks. Add it’s feed to RSSFWD and let it roll through the ToDo filter in your Gmail account. Now you can add tasks via IM and your mobile’s SMS straight to Gmail.

      If you preface each ‘Tweet’ with where you want it to go, in Gmail, you can organize your Twitter feed just by refining the parameters of your filter to include a keyword.

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      For example: “TODO email jack” through Twitter could go through a filter with “Twitter” and “Todo” as parameters.

      Flickr

      Your Flickr photos have a feed. Add a filter with the parameter From: ‘Your’ Photos and utilize Gmail’s search to find the photo you want.

      Want a family member or friend to know when you’ve added a new photo? You can forward emails within a filter to a particular email address. You’ll just need to create a new filter for each email you want to forward to.

      New Gmail Filter Hacks - Camera

        Also don’t forget you could just put any feed you like to read through RSSFWD, set it to send to username+anyfeed@gmail.com and create a filter for that email to forward to a label for anyfeed.

        Tip of the iceberg? Have some more interesting ways to use Gmail’s filters? We’d like to hear them.

        More by this author

        Craig Childs

        Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on August 12, 2019

        How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

        How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

        The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

        This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

        Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

        First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

        • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
        • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
        • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

        You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

        All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

        This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

        It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

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        The Rules

        I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

        1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
        2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
        3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
        4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

        Who To Talk To?

        I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

        That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

        In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

        Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

        Building Confidence

        The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

        If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

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        What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

        Across the Room Rapport

        This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

        In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

        People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

        The Approach

        When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

        Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

        At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

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        If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

        However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

        When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

        Briefly, Approaching Groups

        When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

        The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

        A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

        More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

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        It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

        Topics Of Conversation

        Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

        • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
        • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
        • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
        • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
        • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

        Exiting Conversation

        Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

        • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
        • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

        Likewise, you could start another conversation.

        If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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