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Author Topic: How i organize my email  (Read 6036 times)

mouser

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How i organize my email
« on: October 03, 2005, 06:33:51 PM »
I thought it might be interesting to share some tips+tricks we've learned on how to organize our email folders.

I use TheBat and one of the first things i do when i create a new email account is create a bunch of additional inbox folders.

Then i create a filter so that any incoming email from someone i know (in my address book) gets sent to the "Inbox - Known" folder.  This helps me identify most of the email that is good.

All other email is filed in "Inbox - To Be Filed"

Then i make a folder called "Inbox - To Reply" where i can move email that needs a reply from me at some point but which i don't answer right away.

I also create 2 top level folders, one for Spam and one for Mailing Lists.  I have filters that send any email from a mailing list directly into the Mailing List folder where I ignore it most of the time (my filters also mark it as read so it doesn't distract me). The Mailing List folder has a subfolder called "Read" where I move mail every once and a while after I've glanced at it.   Because mailing lists never appear in my normal email inbox to distract me i don't worry about signing up to mailing lists much.

The Incoming Spam mailbox is where spam lives.  I actually have subfolders for "Confirmed Spam" which is where i myself personally put spam.  The top level is where my filters put it.  The reason i do this instead of just deleting spam email is to give myself several chances to go back and look for stuff that might have been mistakenly marked as spam, and to give myself time to see patterns in spam that i might want to add to a filter to help me flag spam.

Picture below [note screenshot captor makes it easy to blur stuff with the blur button :) ]
What tricks do you use?


m_s

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2005, 06:18:11 AM »
Like you, Mouser, I use several folders, but I work in a different way, without the automation you use.  I'm going to see if there is a way I could automate more, but I doubt it because I really need to read everything as it comes in.  I also use The Bat! (bit of a Bat evangelist, actually! Every day I can be heard calling out, 'Dang!  It's so good!' as I discover another useful feature).  I don't bother filtering spam anymore, because I get very little of it since switching to gmail (although I do have to go online everyday to check the spam folder in case it's caught things that aren't spam - maybe one message per day).  I treat the Inbox folder as a pool into which all new mail enters, and then I separate it into various subfolders in the Inbox.  My boss doesn't read email as email, so I periodically Save all the messages in each folder as a text document, then run a few macros in Word to produce formatted pages for him to read.  Once I have printed the pages, I move the messages from their Inbox sub-folders to subfolders with the same names under Mail Folders, so that I can find them easily. (Must say that lately I have just used Archivarius to find things by keyword, so I don't really bother looking for them in those folders anymore - but I will likely continue to use them for ease of ordering.)  I keep each year's Mail Folders separately, so I have a structure of '2004/Mail Folders/[sub folders as in Inbox]', etc.  (I really don't need that Mail Folders, do I - I think it just came that way when I imported from Outlook.)  Again, the advent of Archivarius might change how I do this in future, but I might just stick to what I've done so far.

mouser

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2005, 06:29:44 AM »
its a good idea to keep archives by year, i might start doing that.

kfitting

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2005, 07:55:27 AM »
Once I started using Opera's email.... good bye manual organization!  Opera's folders are merely database filters in disguise.  There is no more moving mail around.  Just make a filter and Opera takes care of the rest.  Though I havent done it, you can also have Opera make up a filter as you drag messages into it.  No need to worry if making a new rule should copy or move the message because the message is not copied or moved!  Thus, you can make rules without cluttering up your harddrive (with redundant messages) or yanking a message out of a current folder and (notice the boolean logic here!) you can tell the same email to be shown in as many filters as you wish.  I come to work and try to use Outlook (no choice.... silly government)  and cant stand having to make all these arcane rules just to manage my email.  I will admit, Opera lacks a few features I would like, such as formatted emails (maybe I just dont know how to use it properly, but I cant find this feature), but the low organization requirement is so nice.  Mark an email as read... and you're done!

Kevin

Carol Haynes

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2005, 10:37:19 AM »
I am probably a heretic on this forum but I use Microsoft Outlook XP for email, diary etc. and find it very useful.

[selling mode]
One area it isn't so excellent in though is organising incoming mail - enter the magic formula ...

I use a combination of filters (for predicatable email) and POPfile to 'intelligently' sort less predicatble mail based on content. To use POPfile I use the excellent OutClass addin for Outlook which gives a one click classification toolbar.

It takes a little while for POPfile to get to know what you mean (it uses Bayesian filtering methods but doesn't come with any preconceived ideas) but when it gets to know you it is astonishingly accurate. A lot of people see POPfile as a Spam filter (and it does that better than any commercial product I have ever seen) but it is so much more than that.

This means I can have all my emails sorted automatically into suitable folders and I use Outlook's Folder Bar to display all the folders I am regularly interested in so that I can instantly see when new messages arrive.

I also use Outlook's automatic archive feature and free backup addin to automate backups of the main files and archive regularly. At the end of the year I simply rename the archive file to include a year in its name and next archive a new file is automatically created.

Recently I added an extra layer to this byt switching to Yahoo mail as my standard email interface. All the stuff I like to read arrives there (and is filtered there). Anything that doesn't need to be kept (a lot of newsletters/sales bumpf fall into this category) gets deleted before being downloaded onto my system. Things to keep temporarily (like ongoing email conversations) are filed there until they are finished. Anytjing for permanent keeping (receipts, subscriptions etc.) are left in the Inbox and 'POPPED' into Outlook for safe keeping and archiving. I hadn't bothered with Yahoo mail much (even though I had a number of accounts) until I changed ISP, at which point I was given a preimum account. I have to say it works really quite well and the filters in there seem to learn reasonably well.

This setup really allows me to read what I want when/where I want, encourages me to read'n'dump (and not archive) short term email correspondence and automatically filters/sorts/backup/archive other stuff.

Plus I have a built in Task Manager/Contacts/Diary etc. and even a Journal (at least for Office Documents - it seems a bit shonky for other types).
[/selling mode]

Am I missing something?

m_s

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2005, 10:46:26 AM »
Thanks for info on POPfile, Carol - looks interesting, am just downloading now.

And I second your praise of Outlook as a one-stop office-tasks shop.  I've dumped it because it runs so heavy, and because The Bat! can do everything I need more easily.  Should say that I used Outlook up until switching because it was the only thing that could do most of what I need.  I tried Thunderbird for a time (under Linux and Windows), but found that Outlook was much more capable (for what I need).

(But, <off-topic> I'm still looking for an address book that can sync with my pocket pc, and until I manage that, I shall probably be tied to Outlook at least in that regard - but I won't have to have it open all the time </off-topic>)

m_s

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2005, 11:08:36 AM »
Have been meaning to add: I also use a quite useful program called ForKeeps (http://www.fkeeps.com/fkindex.htm).  It's handy for amalgamating all those myriad emails from accounts long past - Compuserve, etc.  You can import into a central database and then search and organise within that, and it recognizes loads of different formats.  So I have emails of the last two years (which was when I started this job) in my mail program, and for the preceding 8 or 9 years stored in ForKeeps.

Carol Haynes

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2005, 11:49:50 AM »
If you are planning to use POPfile with Outlook and Outclass ensure that you don't configure POPfile at all. Outclass only works if POPfile is not running and not configured through its own interface.

If you are interested in Outclass then let me know. For some reason development seems to have stopped, but it still works fine. Trouble is it is only guaranteed to run with certain versions of POPfile, and you may not be able to download those versions anymore. (I have just checked an the POPfile download page has old versions so this should not be a problem)

Also Outclass was released in a later version (Outclass1.3.0.0a-r for popfile 0.21.x) on the site and was quicker but for some reason it is not there any longer. I have been running it for over a year without any problems so if you'd like a copy I can let you have the installer. (I have just checked and althought there is no information about this version on the main page it is at the top of the download page)

The links for anyone interested are:

http://www.vargonsoft.com/Outclass/
http://popfile.sourceforge.net/

Note that POPfile will work with ANY POP email client, but Outclass is specific to MS Outlook 2000/XP/2003 using Exchange, POP or IMAP.

As I said POPfile should only be installed and not configured or run if it is to be used with Outclass.

If you are not using Outclass then the POPfile installer walks you through setting up the system and is access via a local webpage interface. Once you have gone through the learning phase you don't really need to have much to do with POPfile - it all becomes automatic. Basically it grabs incoming email before it gets to your client, tags it and then your email client can organise the new mail using the incoming tags.

[aside]
By the way did you know that the GLOW button when entering messages works fine in Internet Explorer but has odd effects in Firefox?
[/aside]
« Last Edit: October 04, 2005, 11:57:07 AM by CarolHaynes »

Carol Haynes

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2005, 12:01:06 PM »
Note from the developer on his forum:

http://www.vargon.co.../viewtopic.php?t=141

As for Outclass... it's sort of in a suspended mode right now. I can't really get into the specifics at this time, but I will post more about that when I can. At the same time, if you can develop in C++ using ATL and WTL and are interested in working on Outclass, please contact me. Or, if you would like to help take Outclass open-source, please contact me.

Anybody here interested in taking on such a project? My C++ skills are too rusty to cope with such a thing.

cowcrombie

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2005, 05:40:18 PM »
you guys really hate MS dont' you~ XD

i use outlook, and i guess it's fine for what i do with it anyway, although i get atleast one spam email every 5 mins, which is kinda sad

dajo

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Re: How i organize my email
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2005, 08:38:57 PM »
I used to use Outlook for email.  Now I only use online services for email.

GMail (free, ad supported)
gmail.com
I've since gone to GMail, which solves a couple of problems I used to have:
  • Quickly searching a large repository of email
  • Accessing my email history from anywhere
  • Offloading the storage from my hard drive
  • Also, Firefox starts faster than Outlook so I can get to my mail faster

POBox (cheap)
pobox.com
POBox solves another couple of problems.  It pre-processes email, mostly for forwarding.  I find this useful because I can tell the world about my POBox address, and then when I want to change email providers, I just reconfigure my POBox account to forward to the new provider.  POBox also provides great (I mean GREAT) spam protection using a combination of filters and black holes, preventing crap from even getting forwarded to your actual account.

Spamcop (free or cheap)
spamcop.net  (Not spamcop.com!)
Before GMail, I used Spamcop as my main email repository.  Spamcop provides some satisfaction to people who are outraged about spam by giving them something productive to do about it.  Spamcop automatically analyzes email headers to expose spammers' tricks.  Once you've identified a spam, you can report it.  Spamcop gathers reports from its users and reports email abuse to the ISPs being used by the spammers, hopefully to get them kicked out of their account.  Spamcop also uses this information to maintain a black hole list used by POBox!

Spammotel (free)
spammotel.com
If you are ever asked for an email address by someone who might spam you later, you should give them a disposable address.  When you register your real email address (or POBox address) with SpamMotel, you can then generate as many disposable email addresses as you want, one for each suspicious recipient.  I've got several hundred of these disposable addresses, but interestingly, I rarely get spam on them.  Maybe "@spammotel.com" deters the spammers.  But I suspect that spammers get email addresses from domain registrations and web trolling.