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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 November 5, 2019

        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

        Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

        “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

        But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

        Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

        1. Always Have a Book

        It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

        Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

        2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

        We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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        Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

        3. Get More Intellectual Friends

        Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

        Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

        4. Guided Thinking

        Albert Einstein once said,

        “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

        Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

        5. Put it Into Practice

        Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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        If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

        In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

        6. Teach Others

        You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

        Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

        7. Clean Your Input

        Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

        I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

        Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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        8. Learn in Groups

        Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

        Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

        9. Unlearn Assumptions

        You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

        Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

        Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

        10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

        Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

        Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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        11. Start a Project

        Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

        If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

        12. Follow Your Intuition

        Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

        Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

        13. The Morning Fifteen

        Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

        If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

        14. Reap the Rewards

        Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

        15. Make Learning a Priority

        Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

        More About Continuous Learning

        Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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