Google Reader – Mark As Read By Time Line

I have been away a lot the last couple of weeks. Firstly I went to Singapore for the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. My other blog Planning With Kids was judged as being in the top 5 parenting blogs for the Asia Pacific Region! We were only back for two days, when we then headed to Mildura to see my sister’s new baby girl. As a consequence of this busyness my Google Reader is at exploding point!!!

Previously when this has happened, I have had to declare “Reader Bankruptcy” where I click on “Mark As Read” for all items. I find this incredibly disappointing as I know that I have lost out on reading some fantastic blog posts. There is however a new function on Google Reader that prevents you from having to clear all items in your reader, you can choose to mark as read either all items, items older than a day, items older than a week or items older than two weeks.

For me this a nice middle ground, I can delete everything over two weeks old, then start making my way through the most recent posts. The below screen shots, show how easy it is to do:

Google Reader - Mark all as read by date 1

In this screen shot the red arrow highlights that I have 1000+ items in my reader. The blue arrow highlights that in this blog feed alone I have 60 new items.

Google Reader - mark all as read 2

By clicking on the “Mark As Read” drop down menu, I then have a choice to mark items as read by the following time lines:

  • All items
  • Items older than a day
  • Items older than a week
  • Items older than two weeks.

I have chosen the “Items older than two weeks” option in this example.

Google Reader - mark all as read 3

Google Reader then asks me if I am sure that I want to do this. It only asks this question when you are marking as read numerous items. I then click on “Mark as Read” to confirm that I want to do this.

Google Reader - mark all as read by date 4

The red arrow now highlights that I have only 16 items unread for this blog feed – much more manageable than 60. Of course you can do this for all items at once , by simply clicking on “All Items” on the left hand side of your reader and then following these same steps. Happy Reading!

Creating Filters In Gmail

Recently I have found my inbox growing to quickly each day. Many of the emails that I receive are updates of some form and not emails that I need to see straight away. To make my inbox less cluttered I have set up a number of new filters, so that these types of emails skip the inbox and are archived straight to their label.

I will show you the easiest way to do this!

Step 1 – Select Emails To Filter

Creating Filters In Gmail - Select Email
From the main screen of your gmail account, open the email that you would like to filter.

Step 2 – Choose Filter Message Option

Creating Filters In Gmail - Filter Messages
As highlighted by the red arrow, choose the Filter Messages Like This option from the drop down menu.

Step 3 – Creating Filter

Creating Filters In Gmail - Next Step Button
The base details of your email chosen will be filled in for you. If you wish to make the filter any more specific, fill in the details and then click Next Step.

Step 4 – Choose Filter Options

Creating Filters In Gmail - Filter Options
To have emails archived straight to their labels you need to tick the three boxes highlighted by the arrows:

  • Skip Inbox
  • Apply and choose label
  • Apply to conversations below (other emails like this that are currently in your inbox)

Once these have been checked, then click on Create Filter.

Step 5 – Filter Created

Creating Filters In Gmail - Filter Created
You should then see a message like the one highlighted by the arrow above, to advise that your filter has been successfully created. All emails that fit this description will then go directly to their label and will not clog up your inbox!

New Label Functionality In Gmail

By now you would have noticed the changes the label set up in Gmail. If you were like me then one day when you entered Gmail a couple of weeks ago, you would have noticed that the majority of your labels had disappeared. It once looked like this:

Labels list in Gmail

And now it looks like:

New Gmail Labels Set Up

So where have the rest of your labels gone? Near the red arrow is an option saying xx more. By clicking on this you will be able to access the rest of your labels. But what if you want to have more labels easily accessible in the left side bar? Simple, follow these instructions and you can change what labels appear in your Gmail account.

1. Settings Menu

New Labels Set Up In Gmail Main Menu
From the main page of your set up gmail account, click on the settings tab, as highlighted by the red arrow.

2. Label’s Menu

New Labels Set Up In Gmail Settings Menu
From the Settings Option, click on the Label’s Menu as highlighted by the red arrow.

3. Organising Labels

New Labels In Gmail - Organising Labels
As illustrated above, you will now see all your labels listed in this tab. Next to each label is the word show and hide.

4. Hidden Labels

New Labels In Gmail - Hidden Labels
As highlighted by the red arrow, you can see that the label for football has “hide” in bold. This means that it is hidden. If you wish to have this label appear directly in your left hand side bar, click on “show” and it will appear.

5. Show Labels

New Gmail Labels Set Up Organised Labels

The alternative way to organise your labels is to use the drag and drop functionality that Gmail now offers. However, when wanting to organise multiple labels, using the Label’s menu is a much quicker and easier way to arrange the labels that you want shown.

Simply go through you list of labels and click “show”on the ones you want to be seen and then hide any you don’t need to see, bu clicking on “hide”.

How To Enable Keyboard Shortcuts In Gmail

Gmail allows you to work through your emails more efficiently, by the use of keyboard shortcuts. By using the keyboard shortcuts you do not have to take your hands off the keyboard to use the mouse.

To use keyboard shortcuts in Gmail you need to make sure that you have them enabled. To check the status of your keyboard shortcuts, you can follow these simple steps.

Step 1

From the inbox page of your Gmail account, click on Settings as highlighted by the red arrow.

Step 2

On the settings page, you will find radio button options for keyboard shortcuts, as highlighted by the red arrow. Click on keyboard shortcuts on if it is not already selected.

Step 3

Scroll to the bottom of the Settings page and click on the save button, as highlighted by the red arrow.

Keyboard shortcuts will now be available for use in your Gmail account.

How to Use Labels In Gmail

In my post on How To Achieve A Zero Inbox in Gmail I briefly touch on the Labels function. For me this is single biggest factor in my ability to keep my inbox under control.

Gmail gives you an amazing amount of storage space. The above image shows that I am only using 2% of my allocated storage space. That 2% is actually 182MB which I have stored under 40 different Labels. My total available storage space on Gmail is currently 7297MB. This really does mean that I can keep as many emails as I please, however to do this efficiently I need to use Labels.

Step 1

To apply a Label to an email, you need to first make sure that you have checked the appropriate email, as highlighted by the green arrow. Once this has been done then, click on the Label button. You will then see a drop down menu. As I have already set up labels, you will see that I have a number of labels to choose from. To create your first or a new label, simply click on New Label as highlighted by the red arrow.

Step 2

Enter the new label name and click on okay.

Step 3

You will find that Gmail has attached the label you have created or selected, as highlighted by the red arrow.

Step 3

To then move the labeled email out of your inbox, you need to again check the relevant email and then click on archive as highlighted by the red arrow.

Step 4

Once you have clicked on archive, Gmail will then remove the email from the inbox and locate it the Labels box found on the lower left hand side of your Gmail screen. This is what part of my Label box looks like above. So when I want to go back to an email, I can head straight to the appropriate label and find it quickly.

How To Achieve A Zero Inbox

Before I set up email address with Gmail, I really struggled containing my inbox. I would have week/month old emails sitting in my inbox waiting for me to action them.

There was a great inefficiency in the way that I was handling my emails. When I was in my inbox and I could see the emails sitting there, I found that I was often reading them multiple times, deliberating on what to do with them and generally getting sidetracked by non urgent emails.

I went away last week and decided to have an online holiday as well. I did not check my email for six days! When I had been using Outlook, such behaviour would have seen me most likely exceed my mail box storage and a massively overflowing inbox.

Using Gmail effectively though means that my return scenario was very different for the following reasons:

Gmail allows you over 7000MB (and continually growing), so the chances of me exceeding this storage limit are almost impossible.

I receive email from so many sources on a regular basis that I do like to read, but they do not need my immediate attention. The types of emails that fall into this category are statistic reports, monthly newsletters, subscriptions to my own blogs, etc.

By setting up filters within the settings function of Gmail, I can choose to apply a label to the email and have it skip the inbox completely and be archived under this label. This is a fantastic way to reduce distractions that can arrive in your inbox.

As most people do, I receive regular emails from particular friends or groups that I am working with. In the filters section I can apply a filter to a particular email address, so that it labels the email with that name.

For example I have set up a website for the occasional care centre that my youngest child goes to. Every time I receive an email from my contact person at the centre, it is automatically lablelled “Occassional Care”. Once I have actioned the email, I then simply click on archive button to remove it from my inbox and keep it filed appropriately under “Occassional Care” if I need to recall it later.

Dealing with spam can be a big time waster. The spam filters are so smart on Gmail. Over a week in Outlook, I would receive at least 30 – 40 spam emails in my inbox. In my six day absence, there was no spam in my inbox and only eight in my spam folder.

Gmail groups all replies with their original message, creating a single conversation or thread. Replies to replies (and replies to those replies) are displayed in one place and in order. So when you have been away for multiple days like I had, it made it so much easier to follow the “conversation” of some of my emails. It also reduces the total volume of emails that you see initially in your inbox.

These factors, combined with a more disciplined approach by myself, meant that it took less than an hour to action and tame by inbox back to zero again.

So if you are having trouble managing your inbox and have not yet set up email address with Gmail, I can highly recommend doing so as the first step to effectively managing your inbox to zero.