Gmail Smart Labels Unclutter E-Mail, Joining Priority Inbox

Google March 9 added Smart Labels to Gmail Labs, a feature that augments Priority Inbox in cutting through the mountains of messages in users' in-boxes.

Google March 9 added Gmail Smart Labels, another tool to help its 150 million-plus users sift through the loads of social-network digests, e-commerce messages and credit card statements they receive each day.

While users may already create labels and filters to tell Gmail how to treat incoming messages, Smart Labels will automatically dump messages into Bulk, Notification and Forum labels.

Google classifies Bulk mail as any mass mailing, such as newsletters and promotions. Daily Deals from Groupon is a good example of a Bulk mail message. Gmail automatically filters these out of users' in-boxes and into the Bulk label.

Google considers Notification messages sent to users directly, such as billing statements from banks and purchase receipts from and other retailers. E-mail from group mailing lists is labeled as Forum.

These new filters may be edited under the Filters tab in Gmail settings, where existing filters may also be altered to avoid having them "Smart Labeled," said Google software engineer Stanley Chen in a blog post.

Also, Chen noted that users who believe Smart Labels incorrectly labeled a message can report miscategorizations from the drop-down menu on each message. Fair warning: This gives the full message to Google's Gmail engineers.

Administrators for Google Apps for Business and Education users who want to try Smart Labels will need to enable Gmail Labs from the Google Apps admin control panel.

Smart Labels, which can be turned on from the Labs tab in Gmail settings, is a complementary tool to the Gmail Priority Inbox Google launched last August.

Like Smart Labels, Priority Inbox automatically sorts incoming e-mail. The software uses a ranking algorithm to analyze and designate each message as important, important and unread, starred items, and everything else.

Together Priority Inbox and Smart Labels are designed for consumers and business users who require automated help to manage the loads of different e-mail they receive.

It may not translate to many Gmail users, but it can certainly help those who may have considered moving to another e-mail platform because they can't handle the mountain of messaging data.