GMail Superstars

Lori Halley 24 March 2010 3 comments

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.

superstars 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).

superstars-settings

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?

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 6:03 PM

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Comments

  • Tony said:

    Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Thanks for the great tip. I use the "Getting Things Done" method to organizing my time, and these superstars are a great way to organize my emails into task groups.

  • Thrawn said:

    Wednesday, 08 September 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Even better than searching for starred items - you can set up the Multiple Inboxes lab to show all starred items as a second inbox.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 09 September 2010 at 5:03 AM

    Multiple Inboxes was one of GMail's more useful recent additions to labs, for sure, Thrawn - thanks for mentioning it!

    And one more for the productivity wonks ... in the months since this post was written, GMail has also introduced the Priority Inbox feature, which uses your mail-reading and sending habits to "learn" what kinds of email you consider important, sorts those into a separate Inbox, and applies a star.

    Taming the Inbox Monster is no simple task! :)

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