Use Gmail’s hidden colored stars to better organize important emails
By Ian Paul, PCWorldApr 14, 2015 7:00 am PDT
There’s nothing like a nicely organized Gmail inbox to take the stress and worry out of your life. But there’s one area of your email that may not be as well organized as it could be: Gmail’s Starred section.
I love using stars in Gmail to remind me about important messages or emails I want to hold on to for later. Labels are great and all, but the immediacy of clicking that star is much better for me than setting up a bunch of filters or dragging and dropping messages into categories.
But did you know there’s more to the Starred section than just yellow icons? If you dip into your Gmail settings you can add red, orange, purple, green, and blue stars, as well as check marks, colored exclamation points, and other items.
You can use all these different colors to differentiate between items that need a timely or urgent reply, messages you need to hold for later on in the week, or any other system you want to use.
The downside of the stars is that you’ll have to remember what your productivity scheme is; there’s no direct way to personalize each star color with its own name or purpose.
From your Gmail inbox, click on the settings cog in the upper right corner, and from the drop-down menu select Settings.
When the settings screen opens it should show you the General tab by default. Look for the Stars section close to the top. If you’d just like to get going with Google’s presets you can select 4 stars or all stars to have more star colors available to you.
Alternatively, you can drag-and-drop each star/icon to the In use: category from Not in use:. That way you only get the number of stars you want or need. You can also drag-and-drop stars within the In use: section to get the lineup exactly as you want–this will be important later on.
Once you’re ready to go scroll down to the bottom of the settings screen and click Save Changes. This will kick you back to the inbox.
Using the stars
When you see a message you want to add a star to, click it once and you get the default yellow color. Click it again and the next star in the lineup appears. Successive clicks will make the next one in the rotation show up.
That’s about it to using more than just the yellow stars. Enjoy the new highly-organized starred section of your inbox.