Gmail labels trick for IMAP folders: Make all labels appear together.

Gmail recently added IMAP support for their excellent webmail service. Look here for details.

One of Gmail’s best feature is Labels. If you have the 3 labels, Bank, Receipts and Work, this is how they would appear in Gmail (ignore Junk E-mail — that’s something that Microsoft Outlook creates).

GmailLabels_InGmail

If you have configured your email client to access Gmail through IMAP, this is what you are going to see (using Microsoft Outlook 2007 as an example).

GmailLabels_IMAP_Default

Confused? Unable to spot your labels that were so clearly visible in Gmail? Me too! More so if you have a lot more labels (I am sure most power users have more than the three labels that I use in this example πŸ™‚ ).

There is a simple solution for this. In Gmail, edit label names and add a common prefix to all labels. In the example below, I have used the ‘~’ (tilde) character as prefix. With this change, all labels appear one after the other in the email client. No need to look through the list of folders anymore to identify labels!

GmailLabels_IMAP_Sorted

But wait… There are even more ways to organize your labels and emails! In Gmail, edit label names and add a prefix followed by ‘/’ (forward slash). In this example, I have added the prefix ‘Labels/’ to each label (See image below for how it looks).

GmailLabels_InGmail_Subfolder

Now look at the folder structure in the email client. All labels appear under the ‘Labels’ sub-folder! Isn’t this even better?

GmailLabels_IMAP_Subfolders

You can take this further by creating different label structures (E.g.: Info/Bank, Shopping/Receipts, Shopping/Tracking etc.). You can even do multi-level label hierarchy (E.g.: Work/Project1/HiP, Work/Project1/LoP, Work/Project1/All etc.) — be creative here!

Note:

1. I have tested this only on Microsoft Outlook 2007.

2. I discovered the label hierarchy feature when I created a new label with a ‘/’ character in it and Outlook displayed part of it as a sub-folder.

3. If someone already knows about this, well, good for them!

4. If this is as per IMAP specification, great! Good for us…

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