Gmail rolls out 'smart label' feature

Posted by Mark Raby

Google is trying to lend a helping hand to Gmail users who want to have an organized inbox but don't necessarily want to or know how to take the time to set up filters and labels. Enter the new 'smart label' feature.

Gmail has one of the best methods when it comes to organizing all of your e-mails. Instead of the traditional system of placing messages in different folders, it uses a labeling system that allows users to apply multiple labels to a single message, while keeping all e-mails still accessible from the main inbox folder.

However, Google admits, a lot of people aren't taking advantage of that feature - including the friends and family of Gmail programmer Stanley Chen.

"Gmail's filters and labels were invented to help manage the deluge, but while I have about 100 filters that triage and label my incoming mail, most of my friends and family have all their messages in a giant unfiltered inbox," said Chen in a Google blog post.

With smart labels - a new feature available in Gmail Labs - users don't have to go through the taxing process of telling Google how to organize e-mails. It does it for you.

"Once you turn it on from the Labs tab in Settings, Smart Labels automatically categorizes incoming Bulk, Notification and Forum messages, and labels them as such. 'Bulk' mail includes any kind of mass mailing (such as newsletters and promotional email) and gets filtered out of your inbox by default (where you can easily read it later), 'Notifications' are messages sent to you directly (like account statements and receipts), and email from group mailing lists gets labeled as 'Forums,'" explained Chen.

It doesn't offer as much customization as self-made labels, obviously, but for those who have thousands of e-mails and no means of organizing them, it's a nice feature.