About a month ago, Google added a new feature in GMail Labs: Smart Labels. Smart Labels are designed to make keeping on top of your inbox easier by labeling and filtering (mail labeled “Bulk,” for instance, gets archived immediately, though this setting can be changed) your incoming mail so that you can more quickly find the messages that really require your attention.
The three new labels GMail applies when you enable Smart Labels are Bulk, Forums, and Notifications. As you can see from the image at left, Smart Labels went to work right away sorting my mail. I found it surprisingly accurate, too—I didn’t find anything in Bulk that didn’t belong there, and it correctly labeled posts from the ProfHacker Google Group as “Forums” while leaving them in my inbox.
I’ve only been using Smart Labels for a short time, and I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll continue using them alongside the filters I’ve already set up, or will go back to relying only on my own filters. I very much like the way Smart Labels handles bulk mail, but I’ve had some issues with the Notifcations label. In fairness, the messages the tool has flagged as Notifications are notifications—but some of them are also items that I want to see before they get archived. Ideally, I’ll be able to have emails with the Notifications label automatically archived, after I’ve trained the system not to label as Notifications the emails I want to see. We’ll see how well and how quickly the system learns.
Have you tried Smart Labels yet? If so, let us know in the comments what you think of the feature.
[Lead image: Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by kiuz. All other images by the author and Creative Commons licensed.]