Productivity gurus say not to use your email Inbox as a “to do” list, but – let’s be realistic here – many of us find it convenient to do just that. This is especially likely to happen with GMail users, perhaps because the large storage space, efficient search function and color-coded labels make it easy and practical. Superstars can help you to manage your GMail even more effectively.
Hidden away in the experimental Labs section of Google’s GMail is this handy little add-on that gives you just one deceptively simple enhancement: a variety of star icons for flagging those extra-important emails.
To try out Superstars, login to your GMail account and click the “Settings” link in the upper right, then go to the “Labs” tab. Scroll down to the Superstars item and click its “Enable” radio button. That’s it.
When you return to your email, you’ll find that clicking on a star (or hitting the keyboard shortcut “s”) will let you rotate through several different star icons.
Want to use more – or different – icons than the default selection? Visit the “Settings > General” tab to choose the star icons you want to use. Changing the selection is a just matter of dragging icons from the “not in use” list up to the “in use” list (and vice versa).
I generally use a yellow star to mark important-but-not-urgent emails, a blue star for reference materials, and a red exclamation mark for email messages related to today’s “must-do” tasks, changing these to a green check mark to mark each task “done” before archiving the thread to clear the Inbox.
One more nice little feature in GMail SuperStars:
You can quickly find all messages you’ve flagged with a particular star icon, using the search operator “has” followed by a colon and the name of the icon. For example, you’d use the search term “has: red-bang” to find those messages you’ve marked with the red exclamation mark icon. Hovering your mouse over any icon in the settings box will show you its name. And don’t you just have to smile at the “orange-guillemet”? – it sounds like an exotic bird!
How might Superstars help to streamline your own Gmail processes?