It’s easy to drown in e-mail. Spam builds up, newsletters pile in and the important messages with bills or a note from an old friend can get buried. Here, get insider secrets from the Gmail team and MORE’s editors to find out easy ways to organize your e-mail, stat! Tips apply to most e-mail providers unless otherwise stated.
Don’t lump your e-mail into one big pile—it’s like trying to find a sock in a stack of clothing. Instead, create a filter so daily deals or newsletters go straight to a separately labeled inbox for later browsing.
Labels like “personal,” “notes,” or “work” let you categorize messages by subject and importance. You can add more than one label to a single message and easily scan your inbox to find what you need. Note: Some providers use folders versus labels.
Add “EOM” at the end of a subject line, short for End of Message. This way, if you want to jot a quick note like, “Want to grab lunch at 12:30?” your recipient will recognize there’s no need to open the e-mail for a message.
Send a mass message without displaying everyone’s e-mail address. Enter your own e-mail in the “To” field and enter your friends’ addresses in the “Bcc” line. You’ll receive an e-mail letting you know it was sent, but the recipients will be blind-copied and only see your e-mail address, rather than the entire list.
Instead of sorting by date or sender, use the search box in your e-mail to find a particular message. It works like a search engine: If you’re looking for a message that contains the word “shopping,” simply type shopping in the search box and narrow the results instantly.
Clean out your inbox without deleting things you may need in the future. Most e-mail providers have an archive option that allows you to tuck e-mail away so you can clear up space, then find them again later by searching for the recipient, sender, time, subject or content.
In Gmail, find what you’re looking for faster by using specific search terms. Type “has:attachment” for messages that have files included. Type “from:" and enter the specific sender or e-mail address you’d like to find. Type “before:" in the search box to search for messages that were delivered prior to the date you enter (use the format of year/month/day, for example: "before:2012/2/10").
As newsletters pile up, your response may be to delete them without reading. If you find that you keep doing this, take an extra second to open the message and unsubscribe. You’ll be taken to a site where you confirm that you no longer want to be a recipient and the sender’s email will stop showing up in your inbox.
Import old contacts and messages from your outdated account to your new one. This saves time so you don’t have to switch between accounts looking for messages and you won’t need to re-enter contacts. To do this using Gmail, go to the “Accounts and Import” tab under Settings.
If you choose to keep multiple e-mail accounts active at once, you can still opt to have the mail forwarded to the same inbox. For instance, if you have a Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail account, the mail from all these accounts can be delivered to the same inbox to keep it all in one place.
Keep your priorities organized. For example, when the pharmacy e-mails you that your prescription is ready for pickup, add the e-mail to your to-do list. Many e-mail providers offer this option and it can be done in Gmail by clicking the “More Actions” menu and selecting “Add to Tasks.”
A phishing website or message tries to trick you into revealing personal information by appearing to be a legitimate source. If an e-mail says “Congratulations, you’ve won an iPad!” and you’re directed to a site asking you to enter your name or address, be cautious. This is a common scam and is used to steal passwords and financial information.
Don’t return home from vacation with piles of urgent e-mail you feel pressed to sort immediately. Let everyone know not to expect a quick response with a custom auto-reply message sent to anyone who e-mails you while you’re away.
View your inbox on-the-go so you don’t have to wait to get home to sort through new messages. Check your cell phone settings to figure out the best way to sync e-mails. Remember, you can add more than one e-mail account.
Spend less time sending e-mails and more time sorting your own. If you want to send multiple attachments from the same folder, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the files you want to send. Hold Shift if selecting a continuous grouping of files.
Specific to Gmail, this option automatically separates important mail based on a variety of factors like which people you communicate with most and which messages you open and reply to. Google found Priority Inbox users spend 15% less time reading e-mail compared to those who don’t use the free feature.
The easiest way to de-clutter your inbox is to delete e-mail you no longer need like daily newsletters, meeting notices or spam. One message deleted is one less that needs filing and you will then find what you’re looking for that much faster.