Inbox and Archive

Gmail doesn't have folders. Instead of folders, Gmail uses labels. I'll get to that next— but let's just say that, for most purposes, there are only two places for e-mail you want to keep: the inbox and the archive.

There are two places for e-mail you don't want to keep: trash and spam. Generally, you'll want to mark spammy messages appropriately before deleting them, because this helps train the spam filters to recognize unwanted messages.

If you don't ever want a message again, by all means delete it. E-mail sent to the trash is permanently deleted after 30 days. However, messages you might need later should be archived. To archive a message from the Web, select the check box next to the message, and then click the Archive button (on left side of the buttons above the inbox, as shown in Figure 6-2).

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Figure 6-2. Gmail's web interface

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When you archive a message, you move it out of the inbox. You can still find the message by using the All Mail label or by using the Gmail search box. For messages of low importance, you may even want to set up a filter that archives the messages immediately so they never clog your inbox. I'll explain how to do that later in this chapter.

NOTE: Gmail messages are grouped into conversations. Rather than showing each message in the order they arrived, conversations are clusters of messages to and from a person or group. The messages are stacked together, so you can view the conversation in context, and they appear chronologically in your inbox according to the last message received. Any actions you apply to one message in the conversation will apply to all of them. If you want to view or act on the messages individually, just click the "Expand all" link to the right of the message. If you keep seeing a super-long conversation that you'd rather ignore, use the Mute option to archive the current and future messages in that conversation. The messages will still be available and marked as unread. They just won't be in your inbox.

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