Recently, Google updates to Gmail Labs have been coming so thick and fast that one could even believe Google is considering bringing the product out of beta.
Since the beginning of January users have been given additional capabilities such as offline access, easier labelling techniques and video via Gmail chat to name just a few. Now Google has announced perhaps the most exciting one: Multiple Inboxes.
The feature makes it possible for users to have more than one 'inbox' in their default Gmail view. The look of Gmail changes so that you have your traditional inbox on the left and then a right pane with the emails you want (or need) to see separately.
To add it, click on the enable box from the Labs tab under Settings. Once enabled, it will automatically bring up your draft emails in the right pane but you can configure the feature from Settings so that you can see starred emails or particular folders (which of course Google calls Labels).
You can also configure the feature to the number of messages you want displayed and the positioning of the panels.
Although a lot of reports have called the name Multiple Inboxes 'misleading' because it implies users will be able to see email from a number of different providers, I can't see where they are coming from - they can!
For example, an external email account can be filtered to a Gmail Label (from Settings, then Accounts and by checking the option of Skipping Inbox) and then this Label can then appear in a separate pane in your inbox.
I am going to use the new panes to show my personal Gmail messages, my Hotmail inbox and my starred messages in Gmail, which I use when I have an email I have to reply to.
The only necessity with the new feature is that users need to be organised. If they do not have Labels set up and do not use the starred option, then the feature will just clutter their view (unless they really want to see their draft messages).
Another difficulty is setting up the external email account filtering. I admit to having problems when Google asked for Hotmail's POP server address and Port number. Google said to contact Hotmail if experiencing problems connecting. The best place to start is WindowsLiveHelp.com but it is quite a long-winded way of doing things.
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