Priority Inbox – Gmail’s new offering

GmailEmail is a great and a convenient way to stay in touch with the WORLD but in today’s information age this electronic communication can well become annoying especially when you find hundreds of messages of varying importance waiting for your attention upon logging in to your mail account. Over the years companies offering free email domains have introduced a whole lot of features making our email experience a pleasure. Gone are the days when customer requirements fuelled these features. Today all that matters is ‘What can you Offer??’ Gmail is one such example as they have something new to offer to their users every time they login (Users who login every few hours are excluded: D)

Gmail Priority Inbox

The latest from the Gmail stable is a new feature called ‘ Priority Inbox ‘which helps you zoom through your inbox by automatically prioritizing messages. For those of you who are familiar with Gmail might quickly look at this new Priority Inbox and think it is little more than what is already available in the current Gmail filter products they already have. I would like to believe that this feature is targeted more towards the naïve users. However that does not mean tech savvy users will give this a miss as it involves some automation which could reduce the burden of setting up the filters on your own. The algorithm is clever enough to look into different subjects, or interactions with different people. Not only this, it also considers how quickly you reply to certain messages or how you apply stars.

Setting up your Priority Inbox

  • Click on the New! Priority Inbox link in the upper right of your Inbox.

Priority Inbox as a Featured link

  • As soon as you click it you will be presented with a window as below.
Setting up Priority Inbox
Setting up Priority Inbox
  • If you are fine with the default settings which Gmail has automatically configured then click on ‘That looks right. Go to Priority Inbox! ‘Upon which you will be presented with an inbox like the one below. (If you are not satisfied with the settings click anyway as you can change the settings later)

Activating the Priority Inbox feature

Priority Inbox categorized into 3 sections
Priority Inbox categorized into 3 sections
  • As you scan through the messages you might feel that some emails that you deem to be of the utmost importance to you are not according to Gmail. The reverse case might also be something that you have to confront with.
  • In both the above cases there is an option to teach Gmail and correct the settings. Immediately to the right of Delete button you can see 2 buttons with + and minus signs as below. + indicates you want to mark a message as important and – implies it’s not important.
Your preferences are not ignored
Your preferences are not ignored
  • For more customization you might have to go to settings and click on Priority Inbox.
Default settings
Default settings
  1. Default Inbox: By default the last inbox that you used will be selected. But you can change it to either your regular inbox or the priority inbox.
  2. 2. Priority Inbox Sections: By default there are 3 sections :
    1. Important and unread – Based on Gmail filtering or your own filters.
    2. Starred – Starred messages in Inbox
    3. Everything else – All messages in the inbox excluding the above 2.

In addition to the above 3 sections you can include one more by clicking on Add section link beside Empty.

Not only this you can even customize the current 3 sections in whichever wish you would love to by using the inline menus.

  1. Filtered Mail: Even before this feature was introduced there was a feature where you could filter out important messaged to different folders and Priority Inbox respects these settings and won’t show them in the priority Inbox. If you wish you could override the filters.
  2. Important Markers: By default markers are on which will catch your attention to the important mails.
  3. Show Priority Inbox: You can turn on or turn off the feature here.
Customize your Priority Inbox
Customize your Priority Inbox

What’s so special about this feature??

For those of you who think this is a brand new feature in the domain of email then you are wrong. Microsoft for example has had e-mail prioritization technology for over a decade even holding relevant patents, but for some reason the company hasn’t included it in Hotmail. Maybe this step from Google would force Microsoft to get the feature activated.

Yahoo Mail too has had a feature similar to Priority Inbox since January, showing you top e-mails from known contacts on it’s ‘What’s New page’. Windows Live Hotmail has its Sweep feature to let you deal with newsletter overload.

So what’s that X factor which gives PRIORTY INBOX an edge over similar features in other email domain??

In Yahoo or Hotmail you need to select the senders you want to relegate to a folder whereas Google’s algorithm is clever enough to designate contacts beforehand to see the important stuff float to the top.

In addition to this Priority Inbox is more dynamic than anything you could put into a filter, as what’s important to you could change over time. Priority can also be changed as and when a user feels Google automation isn’t working in a particular case. Hence it’s a mix of Artificial intelligence plus user’s choices which will finally decide which of the emails get prioritized.

To a layman, setting up of complex set of filters would be Greek and Latin. This feature is useful for users right away as something they can easily tune without knowing how to create filters.”


For all those who dread opening their email with the fear that they will be confronted with hundreds of messages this new feature comes as a life saver. Try it out and experiment by tweaking the filters..In my opinion this surely will change the way of how we read email.

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