Google Adds Flexibility to Labels. My Netbook Says Thanks


dragndrop1As a full-time Gmail (s GOOG) user, one of the bits I really can’t stand is now fixed. Google implemented some changes to its Label system that I’m ready to pounce on, but the new features are rolling out throughout the day. At the moment, my account doesn’t have them. So what am I waiting for with high levels of anticipation? Three things that should help my productivity.

The Label system is now above the Google Talk or chat area, which is super helpful when I’m using my netbook. I use Labels far more than I use Chat, and I always wondered why I couldn’t swap placement of the two features. With only 600 pixels to use on a typical netbook display, the Labels often fall off the bottom of the screen. Of course, with several dozen labels, they’ll still drop below the small screen, so the second new tidbit will overcome that issue: configurable hiding or showing of Labels. Yup, you can now specify which Labels you want to see all the time, as opposed to those hardly used (but still useful) Labels. Google will start you off by showing the most used Labels, and you can modify as needed after that.

For the “old school” emailers, Gmail now supports dropping and dragging for Labels. You can drag messages to a Label or you can drag a Label onto an email. Using this feature will perform a “move and archive” function, just as it does with the Move button that Google added prior. Is it just me that’s excited over these changes? Perhaps I’m easy to please…



I’ve been on Yahoo Mail for about 10 years. Their AJAXy UI update 2-3 years ago (I got it early) was extremely powerful in keeping me around. Also, I have their pay account (like $20-$25 year) and the spam protection is equivalent to Gmail at that leve. However, still no IMAP access is killing me and Google’s direct hooks into the iPhone using Exchange services (plus Android) is making me reconsider all…

Kevin, do you use the web mail client on your phone or the built in mail app for Gmail?

Kevin C. Tofel

On my phone, I tend to use the native mail client although I do hit the web version each time new features are added. If I ever find it more effective to use the web version, I’d likely switch. On my computers, I solely use the web for Gmail. No mail client there.


At least with GMail, unlike Yahoo, you know the service will still be around in the next 2-3 years! Haha just kidding. :)


Re: Martin

At least with GMail, unlike Yahoo, you know the service will still be around in the next 2-3 years! Haha just kidding. :)

Seriously though, I find GMail’s spam protection to be vastly superior to any other solution, and its integration with Google Calendar, Docs, and Maps makes it easy to retrieve dates for the calendar, addresses, and convert other attachments into online documents. There is also the added bonus of Gmail’s recognition of foreign languages and UPS tracking numbers!

Kevin, a quick note: Dragging an email into the “label” will label and archive (move), but NOT vice versa. Dragging the label onto an email will simply label.


There must be an option to show labels with unread messages before the remaining labels.


Kevin: There is a google labs tool in gmail “Navbar drag and drop” that allows you to resort the boxes (including to the right side of the screen if you have that enabled), so the labels-below-chat hasn’t been a problem for me – in fact, now that labels are no longer a separate widget is mildly annoying, because now you can’t move the labels anywhere else.

Also, I usually kept the labels minimized, so the first thing I did was go and set labels to “hide all”, making the new features kind of pointless for me, though it does gain a little screen real estate. Finally, the drag-and-drop features are gimmicky and clumsy in my opinion – not really any faster, though I can see it being nice for a tablet user – I just use the keyboard and/or move button.

Like anything google does, ymmv :)


i did the same thing. i don’t use labels. i just don’t have any need to. so i chose “hide all”.


I haven’t gotten why everybody wants tags on everything. The simplicity of Gmail is that if I want to go back, I can do instantaneous searches. The biggest thing I want to know is whether I’ve opened something or not, next is if I’ve replied to it. Google’s idea of never deleting another email means I don’t have to do anything except be somewhat thoughtful of my search terms.

I get that tags are like filing something in six different folders, but tagging doesn’t seem as handy to me as searching, and tagging means having to make a variety of decisions on every single piece of email.

What’s the big deal with tagging?


It’s quite simple really, some people’s brains just don’t work that way. :) Organization is a highly subjective thing.

Personally, I search most of the time, but I also tag when I archive so I can look back at what *type* of e-mail I received – like all my bills from the last month, which isn’t a result I can get quickly from a search.


I’ve been using gmail since 2004 and in the beginning I felt like Martin. What was the big deal? I used to have my gmail synchronizing with my desktop client via POP or IMAP, but recently switched to all web.

What I love about gmail’s web client is the speed with which I can go through e-mails. I use only the keyboard when I read through, archive, reply and delete my e-mail and it flies. The archive function is really a stroke of genius and the generous space available makes you worry less about archiving all those old e-mails.

It really is a much nicer experience than my corporate Outlook account (granted we’re still on 2003).


Hi Kevin,

I am still trying to get the hang of why people like gmail. I have a gmail account but also yahoo and I use outlook web access. Gmail seems by far the weakest of the lot so I am curious what I am missing. Also after having a problem recently with my internet hoster, I really don’t want the only copy of my data being on someone else’s server.

So I am curious …what am I missing ?



Kevin C. Tofel

Martin, I moved from Exchange to Gmail because the Exchange solution was overkill for my needs and budget. Having never tried Yahoo! Mail, I really don’t know what features it has that would make it more compelling for me. My needs are pretty simple: reliable email I can use anywhere and on any device. Since our work email is on Google, I have seamless integration with my work cal, docs, chat and contacts. Other solutions might work to but I’m happy with what I have. You might not be “missing” anything because our needs likely differ and therefore the best tool for each of us could be different in turn. As far as having mail in a single place: I have all of my Gmail stored for offline use by using Gears.

I hate to answer a question with a question, but could you tell me what Yahoo! offers you over Gmail?

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