Migrating Outlook Rules to Google Mail Filters – Filtering External Emails

Further from my recent post on Google Mail Filters, another rule that I had setup in Outlook was to move emails that originated from outside my organisation into a separate folder "Inbox – External". This way marketing information, or newsletters for example wouldn’t clutter my inbox. There isn’t a predefined scenario in the Outlook Rules Wizard to handle this, but you can achieve the desired result by setting the “with specific words in the sender’s address” to “@” and adding an exception “except with @myorganisationdomain.com in the sender’s address” as shown below. Effectively the rule states that all emails except those originating from my organisation should get moved to the defined folder.

image

You will see in the screenshot that I also have exceptions for specific individuals and domains. What I found was that after setting this rule up, I was missing important emails as they were being moved out of my Inbox. For example, emails from the client of the project I was working on, my car pool buddy (in case he was leaving early that day), and of course my wife. Effectively you can set these up as exceptions to the rule by adding them to “except if from” or “except with @clientdomain.com in the sender’s address”.

Now that we have moved to Google Mail, I wanted to replicate the rule in the Google Filters.

  1. Under Settings -> Filters select Create a new filter
  2. On the Choose search criteria screen, set:
    1. From: –@myorganisationdomain.com (note the minus before the @)
    2. To: me
    3. Doesn’t have: from: wife OR from: car.pool.buddy (obviously replace with the names you want to exclude)
  3. Use the Test Search button to test the criteria you have entered. The filter looks something like this:

    image

  4. Click Next Step >>

    clip_image003

  5. In the Choose action screen, tick “Skip the Inbox” and tick “Apply the label: Inbox – External”
  6. 6. Click Update Filter
Advertisements

Google Guru

Yesterday I learned of a neat lab that’s available with Google Talk called ‘Google Guru’. It’s essentially a question and answer service that lets you do several types of queries using the Google Talk chat service. To setup the service, you first need to be signed into Google Talk, then add the contact guru@googlelabls.com. Now you can initiate a chat session with the guru and ask questions such as the weather in your location:

image

Sports scores:

image

Ask simple calculations:

image

Or translations:

image

I must say though that it is very hit and miss with the results:

clip_image001

I ran a similar searches in one of the best question and answer services around, Wolfram Alpha which had no problems handling such requests:

clip_image002

clip_image003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I thought I’d throw it some curly questions and see how they compare. Firstly in Google Guru:

clip_image005

Then in Wolfram Alpha:

clip_image004

So the Google Guru might be useful for some basic queries and if you are a fan of Google Talk as your IM client, you may find it handy, but it certainly struggles with many of the requests I gave it and the results no where as good as those by other such services.

For more information on the service, go to http://guru.googlelabs.com/

Migrating Outlook Rules to Google Mail Filters

I’ve been following the practice of Getting Things Done by David Allen for some years now, and one of the core things that I have learnt is to keep my inbox for unprocessed work only. You will find there are many other strategies for managing your inbox but essentially they all discuss the same concept of and dealing with the overload of emails your receive on a daily basis. One of the important concepts of the Getting Things Done methodology is triaging you inbox. This is done by applying what they refer to as the 4 Ds:

  1. If you can get it done in under 2 minutes: Do It.
  2. If it will take longer than 2 minutes: Defer It.
  3. If it isn’t important: Delete It.
  4. If you don’t need to do it: Delegate It.

One of the best ways to manage my inbox I found, was to get Outlook to automatically triage as many incoming messages as possible through the use of rules. I created several folders in Outlook to help me process the messages:

  • Inbox – CC
  • Inbox – External
  • Inbox – Alerts

Then I would have a series of Rules to move items out of my Inbox into the relevant folder. One of the key rules I had was to move items where I was being CC’ed into the "Inbox – CC" folder. The reason for this was that if someone included me on the CC list but not in the To list, this would mean that it was for my information rather than requiring any response on my part. The rule in Outlook looked like the following:

clip_image001[4]

The Rules Wizard in Outlook covers many pre defined scenarios, so I was a little concerned with the move from Exchange Server to Google Mail that I wouldn’t be able to get the same functionality. There is however a very advanced search criteria functionality that comes with the filters which take a little getting used to. Many of the advanced functionality can be found at Using advanced search.

To re-create the above rule "where my name is in the Cc box", do the following:

  1. Under Settings -> Filters select Create a new filter
  2. On the Choose search criteria screen, set:
    1. To: -to:me (note the minus before the to)
    2. Has the words: cc:me
  3. Use the Test Search button to test the criteria you have entered.
  4. Click Next Step >>

    clip_image002[4]

  5. In the Choose action screen, tick the following:
    1. Skip the Inbox
    2. Apply the label: Inbox – CC
  6. Click Update Filter

    clip_image003[4]

Moving from Exchange Server to Google Mail for Windows Phone 7

As part of my organisations move from Exchange Server to Google Mail I needed to update my phone settings to sync to the Google server. To do this, from the home screen I select the right arrow at the top of the screen:

clip_image001

Then selected Settings:

clip_image001[4]

Finally, select email & accounts –> Outlook.

My existing settings have the username as my network login  id, and the server set to exchange.mycompanydomain. To switch over to using the Google Mail server, I changed the username to my email address (e.g. david_cook@mycompanydomain) and changed the server to m.google.com. After saving I received an alert “Action Required” on the email & accounts screen. Selecting the Outlook account I was prompted to “Update your password for m.google.com and press Save” after re-entering my password the account showed “Synchronising”. and my emails are now syncing via Google Mail.

Moving from Microsoft Exchange Server to Google Mail

    Today my organisation started the move from Microsoft Exchange Server to Google Mail and as part of the move I have been nominated what they are referring to as a Google Champion. This is effectively an early adopter from each department which essentially means to help iron out any issues during the transition and to help flesh out FAQs and training material that might be useful for the rest of the organisation. imageHaving used Microsoft Outlook as my primary email client for well over 10 years I thought it might be useful to share my experiences with moving to Gmail. As part of the early adoption phase, I wanted to try and exclusively use the web client and make the most of the features they have made available rather than continuing to use Outlook and using the available sync tools.

    Something many of us use in Outlook is folders, but Gmail doesn’t use folders, instead it uses labels. Therefore when my Exchange mailbox was converted, the folders actually get converted as filters with the emails within those folders also tagged with the relevant label. As you can see on the image on the right, the folder structure is a hierarchy, however the labels in Google Mail are simply a text label, therefore the representation of the tree structure gets converted to my folder structure include all folders will be converted as Level1/Level2/Level3 or given my folder structure Inbox/Reference Material/Personal.

    I wanted to clean up the structure by simply renaming them back to a single level structure. This can be done under Settings –> Labels as shown below:

    clip_image001

    I simply renamed the Inbox/Reference Material to Reference Material:

clip_image002

When renaming the label, all emails also get their labels updated. You can also rename labels from the main page as follows:

clip_image004

clip_image003

 

     

     

     

     

    After I started doing this, I discovered one of the greatest strengths of using the web client as opposed to a desktop client is the use of Labs. Under Settings –> Labs is a treasure trove of add ins for Gmail which provide a heap of extra functionality, and the gem I used in this instance was called Nested Labels. Enabling this add in as the name suggests gives us a hierarchy for labels which means I can keep the folder structure I had in Outlook.

    Enabling the add in:

    image

    Renaming labels now allows for providing a hierarchy:

    image

    View of labels in the desired hierarchy:

    image

    Posted in Gmail. Tags: . Leave a Comment »