23 Sept 2010

Customizing Gmail's Priority Inbox

Gmail's Priority Inbox feature divides your inbox into three sections by default: Important and unread, Starred, and Everything else.  This works for most people, but I am one of the people for whom it doesn't quite work.

In this post I am going to say how I changed Priority Inbox to suit my needs.  I should first say how I have organized my Gmail mailbox.  If there's a mail that I might need in the future but only occasionally, I star that mail.  Some of my starred mails have the license key for software I bought, links to my Internet domain's control panel, etc.  I don't need these information often, but when I do need them, I find it hard to locate them by searching.

There's another set of mails that make my "to-do list".  I add a mail to my to-do list by applying "pending" label to it.  Let's say I receive a bill for my Internet connection, and I am planning to pay it only a few days later.  I'd mark it as "pending" so I can get back to it later.  Once I have made the payment, pending label is removed from that mail.

Before Priority Inbox, I was using Multiple Inboxes Gmail labs feature to show my "pending" mails above my inbox.  If I can somehow make the "Starred" section of my Priority Inbox view to show my "pending" mails, I will get my old inbox view back.  This is how I did that:
I clicked on the title of the Starred section, and choose "More options..." item.

This showed me all my labels.  I selected "pending " from the menu.

That's it.  Now my Starred section has been replaced with more useful "pending" section.

There are more ways to customize your priority inbox.  Open Settings > Priority Inbox in your Gmail and explore the options available there.

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