Look at the left side of your row of email in Gmail. See the star there? You can click on it to track different messages—things you want to follow up on, remember for later, or otherwise find quickly.
If you’ve used it before, you likely only know it as a yellow star that can be toggled on and off. But did you know that other colors exist too as well as other icon shapes that include different colored exclamation marks, a check mark, and a question mark?
To expand your lineup of star types, click on Gmail’s gear icon, then choose See all settings. Under General, scroll down to Stars. By default, the “1 star” option will be selected, but you can instead choose the option for “4 stars” (yellow and blue stars, green checkmark, and red exclamation mark) or “all stars” (six colored stars, plus a variety of six additional icons). After you pick the 4 stars or all stars option, keep clicking when starring an email to cycle through the set.
Further reading: Check out these 10 tricks to use Google more efficiently.
This is one of my long-time favorite features in Gmail—I’ve used it daily since I discovered it well over a decade ago, back when it was part of Google Labs experimental add-ons. (RIP). Fortunately, it graduated to becoming an official integration into Gmail and survived the reaper. I use it to more distinctly flag items for my mental to-do list, separating out what’s high priority, requires follow-up, and potential reference material. You can search for email tagged with a specific star type, too, which is helpful when seeking specific groups of email.
There are other ways to get more out of Gmail, of course, so it’s worth learning other tricks, like how to change your display name, how to block (and unblock) someone, and how to better search your email. But I find that this tiny feature can supercharge email sorting, especially when combined with Gmail’s filters and labels.