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July 1, 2009

Gmail's Labels Are More Customizable

Gmail's transition to labels-that-look-and-act-like-folders is finished: you can now use drag-and-drop to label messages. Labels no longer live in their own container and they're displayed below the built-in labels: inbox, spam, trash, etc.

To make room for other features, Gmail only displays the most frequently used labels and hides the other labels behind a "more" dropdown. The list of labels is now customizable: you can hide built-in labels and some of your labels, while changing their order. If you rarely check the "spam" label or you don't save drafts, you can hide the system labels from the settings page.

"You now have control over which of your labels show. We've done our best to get you started by automatically showing the labels you use most and hiding the rest. Label hiding is my favorite new feature, since it saves me from having to look through labels I rarely use. If I ever need to reach any of my old labels, I just click the "more" link," says Damian Gajda, from Google.


I don't see the new features in my Gmail accounts, but Google promises that the changes are rolled out today.

Update: Google wants to make labels more visible. If you didn't create labels, Gmail will add four labels for you: Personal, Receipts, Travel and Work. "When I joined the Gmail team, I was surprised to learn that only 29% of Gmail users had created any labels. We realized that if you didn't know about labels, it would be easy to assume Gmail had no way to organize your mail. Not only were "labels" unfamiliar, they were kind of hidden," explains Michael Leggett.


{ Thanks, Niranjan. }

81 comments:

  1. For "power" users, the loss of the right-side labels labs feature is a detriment, since those users tend to have lots of labels that don't fit well in the left column without scrolling.

    And the addition of drag-n-drop is insignificant to power users, since those users add 99% of their labels through automatic filters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I HATE this new feature. It has made gmail a LOT less useable.

      Delete
  2. In fact, retiring right-side labels has made filters slightly less useful. Since I can no longer see all of my labels at a glance, I no longer want mails to by-pass the inbox.

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  3. Agree with Christopher.

    Also, because my screen is wider than it is tall, I wish Google would let me move some of my other gadgets to the right side, or maybe even give me a third column for gadgets.

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  4. It's really useful. Finally I can hide SPAM counts!

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  5. This will be a great addition to have. I don't have it yet, hopefully it will become available soon. If Gmail could develop a Thundermail like application and have all these features it will be awesome.

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  6. I went crazy creating labels for this and labels for that. So many damn labels (about 80, but will reduce them) that I now have Labs collapsed. This sounds interesting. Sub-labels would be nice...

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  7. I see this via my Apps for Domains account, but not via my gmail account, weird.

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  8. I can't understand yet why they disabled the right-side option. I agree with Christopher, it is in detriment to those who already found it extremely useful. They should leave it as now, letting people to decide if they want to keep it on the right or left side.

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  9. They removed the Right-side Labels lab option, without giving me the upgrade!
    This is very annoying! epically since i have a couple of gadgets and a wide-screen!
    I now have a very very long left column!

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Christopher Scollo said on July 1, 2009 11:50 AM PDT:
    For "power" users, the loss of the right-side labels labs feature is a detriment, since those users tend to have lots of labels that don't fit well in the left column without scrolling.

    And the addition of drag-n-drop is insignificant to power users, since those users add 99% of their labels through automatic filters.
    #
    Christopher Scollo said on July 1, 2009 11:55 AM PDT:
    In fact, retiring right-side labels has made filters slightly less useful. Since I can no longer see all of my labels at a glance, I no longer want mails to by-pass the inbox"


    Very well said.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't want any of this.

    I want to see all of my labels and I want to see them on the right side.

    It was working fine please undo the "fix" to what was not broken, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I beg to differ. Power users don't use right-side labels and they hide all the labels with the new options.

    Power users like a clean and simple interface so they use the "Go to label" feature from labs, together with keyboard shortcuts. "G" + "L", and you enter the label you want to view. The popup comes complete with autocomplete.

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  13. Does it work only in US English or does it work in other languages?

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  14. It works for all the supported languages.

    ReplyDelete
  15. gravi_t - "go to label" doesn't show me how many unread messages are in that label until I load the page.

    Right side labels showed unready counts at a glance next to your inbox. That was super useful.

    And seems pretty popular:
    http://groups.google.com/group/gmail-labs-help-right-side-labels/browse_thread/thread/6dcf0350cc4bf87

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/gmail/thread?tid=49d0e8548ff5ee2f&hl=en

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/gmail/thread?tid=0077312a3ea39ee6&hl=en

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/gmail/thread?tid=29bb6d1856fdd548&hl=en

    ReplyDelete
  16. > The popup comes complete with autocomplete.

    Unfortunately that still doesn't let you see what labels have unread messages and what haven't.

    Right now the only way is to open up More and scroll all the way through the alphabetically sorted list.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great feature...
    Is it Enabled for Chrome 3 users?

    Anybody knows why for my new installed Firefox 3.5 I get the old Uploader instead of the new Flash?

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Or, you can create a quick link for the "is:unread" search.

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  19. I just got the feature and love it! Goodbye "Spam" (I'm hiding it).

    @Benjamin: I get the unread count in Goto Label's drop-down menu.

    @Drazick: I'm using Chrome 2 so it works there but I'm not sure abotu C3.

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  20. One thing that would be nice is renaming "More" to Labels. I hid all my labels (I prefer Goto Label) and now all I see is "More". I know what "More" is but "Labels" would be better.

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  21. It's still not visible in my account. Does anyone has this feature implemented?

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  22. The feature was rolled out to my account earlier today.

    Drag and drop is useless because you can't do it while reading a message. Easier just to use Move To menu.

    Hiding labels is useless, since you still have to vertical scroll all over the place now that labels are crammed back on the left side. Hiding labels makes nothing more convenient.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ gravi_t: But if I have too much labels and I can't hide them (because I use them very frequently). I have to scroll down for the "quick-links" to ~_~.

    Right now, I have 16 visible labels with color (actually I remember the color of each label, not the direct name of this) and 3 hidden ones.

    I have 8 quick-links

    I use Google Calendar as my day-runner

    I use Google Docs for creating sharing documents too.

    All of them are in the LEFT SIDE. :(( I'm going crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous said: "I don't want any of this.

    I want to see all of my labels and I want to see them on the right side.

    It was working fine please undo the "fix" to what was not broken, thanks."

    I could not agree more! Please, Gmail, please...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ugh, I'm going to be completely honest - I HATE this new thing! Gosh, please go back to the way it was before, with right side labels as an option. It was SO much better for reasons I can't even begin to list. Not that it matters really, because everyone's already pretty much given all their reasons, and that just about covers it.

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  26. There must be an option to show labels with unread messages before the remaining labels.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am very unhappy about this change. I loved things the way the way they were (chat on top of labels on left side). Google really should make an option to go back to the way things were.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Please bring back the Right side labels!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Well, for those whose left sidebar is very long, I think Google can allow them to put their chat box, gadget, etc. to the right side instead of taking the right side labels feature back.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I think that the new label system may be useful, but we need to be able to move the labels to the right side where the lab function allowed us to do so. If you check out the various threads, you will see that there are several already requesting the same thing. I have 41 labels, and loved them on the right side.

    Bring them back!

    ReplyDelete
  31. wow
    very goood
    thank s for Gmail and Google

    ReplyDelete
  32. Very nice. It's also interesting that this change is availabe at the same time for both standard Gmail and Gmail for domains, and for foreign languages.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm missing the ride-side labels soooo much.
    A power user.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Well, I like the concept, and I like that I can hide things, but it's very annoying that I can't display them on the right.

    I use the Remember the Milk gadget, which is tall, and since I can't place that on the right I used to have the labels on the right instead so that I wouldn't run out of vertical space.

    Forcing labels to be on the left is okay *if* you allow me to place any other gadget on the right, but since this isn't possible either my gmail interface has now become far less convivial.

    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  35. I agree with all the above,

    Please, let me put my labels on the right hand side again, it was so easy! Now I have to click on the "42 more" all the time to see if I 've got a new email!!!

    Maite

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't see why you need the "right-side labels" feature:

    - hide the system labels you don't use frequently (starred, sent items, spam, trash).
    - show all the labels you've created and hide the labels that are rarely used.
    - if you use Gmail Chat and you still need more space, enable the "right-side chat" feature in Gmail Labs.
    - remember that Labs feature could disappear at any time and that you've used Gmail before there was a Labs section.

    ReplyDelete
  37. When I wrote my original comments, I had lost the right-side labels, but had not yet gotten the "hide less-used labels" feature. I now have the full upgrade and am less concerned, since I can now see my most important labels without scrolling. It probably would have been better to upgrade each account all at once.

    Overall, I call this an improvement.

    I might now start using right-side chat.

    ReplyDelete
  38. The main point is to have the option to scan the labels to note the new mail. I will definitely put chat on the other side; wish I could put calender over there too - it would make sense to clean up and leave the left just for labels.
    p.s. how about labeling before sending? I wish there was a drop down so I could force a thread into a label from the start!

    ReplyDelete
  39. @JC:
    > Drag and drop is useless because you can't do it while reading a message. Easier just to use Move To menu.

    Well, you can't drag & drop an opened message onto a label, but you can drag & drop a label onto an opened message. Still it will be good if Google allows us to drag & drop an opened message onto a label.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Firstly right side is gone. Thats BAD.
    But was it as hard to add a search option for those of us with hunderds of labels (just as label and move-to buttons have??). Now that Folders4Gmail is broken, I need it sorely.

    ReplyDelete
  41. @Anonymous:

    Visit Gmail Labs and enable "go to label".

    ReplyDelete
  42. Fargin iceholes.

    I use many filters to move mail to the appropriate labels and skip the inbox...

    ...and I have a lot of labels. I used Folders4Gmail and the right-side labels lab to get a folder tree on the right. Because un-read counts bubble up through the label folders I could always see which categories had unread mail.

    Now, today I have everything on the left and Gmail takes a useless stab at which labels I should have shown by default. Changing all labels to always show isn't very useful as I can't guess which set I should have visible at any given time. Moving chat to the right allows me about half of my labels visible - and even then only the most important are on the screen without if I name them in a manner to sort them differently. Either way I'm either clicking more and scrolling to get the labels I wasn't sure I'd need or I'm scrolling for Africa anyway because of a large label list...

    The labels are alphabetically ordered which while the same as before is no longer a tree of folders. To keep contextually related folders listed adjacently without folders requires lengthy label names - this doesn't work because the label box clips the label.

    It seems that the best I can achieve with this frustratingly hopeless UI change is to munge my label-names, try to guess which I'll want to see on any given day and spend my day clicking 'more' and scrolling for the rest.

    Gmail, not your best moment.

    PS: I'd review the alternatives and make use of the mail forwarding feature but I don't know whether there's a good Gmail alternative. Suggestions welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  43. There is another labs feature that lets you drag&drop the boxes on the left so you can put Quick links right below labels.

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  44. I don't think it's strictly a move towards folders - although it does let people use them more like that, it also lets people use them more like labels - dragging them onto messages to stick there like postits

    If people needed the space you can hide all the labels (including system ones) and one click will give you the whole list to look through - this will also give you *more* space on the left as spam, bin, starred and others can be hidden behind a dropdown menu of sorts

    Hopefully right-side-labels will be back at some point, although probably not within a couple of days

    ReplyDelete
  45. I want the old one back! This drag and drop does not help me at all. I label my messages through filters to help me read related emails together. I don't read an email and assign it a label afterwards (this happens VERY VERY rarely).

    I want to see ALL my labels on the right-side at any one time since I do filtering to skip inbox and label the messages.

    OMG! This is a horrible update to Gmail!!! Please please undo it!

    ReplyDelete
  46. By the way, I use Better Gmail to collapse my labels in groups. Now this is also gone. Really horrible!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Gmail Labs features and scripts that alter Gmail's code can stop working at any time. You should've known this before installing Folders 4 Gmail or adding the "right-side labels" feature. Some of the Labs features are more likely to be around and to become regular features (offline Gmail, tasks, gadgets), while others are just experiments.

    "Gmail Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for primetime. They may change, break or disappear at any time."

    ReplyDelete
  48. Yes, please let me put my labels back on the right side of the page.

    ReplyDelete
  49. @Alex Chitu

    We/I know that very well, but we can still say what changes we like or we don't that being a lab feature or not. I am/was not a folders4gmail user but a right side label daily user.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thumbs DOWN!!! Where is the Undo button!

    Come on GMAIL!!! Don't let us down! At least give us the OPTION to have labels on the right. I use the calendar add in and now it's so far down the screen I can't even see it!

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Ok, nobody use Linux and Firefox with GMail???
    The last changes in GMail broke Gtalk (the gadget display minimized ALWAYS in my browser from today).
    Anyone with this problem?

    ReplyDelete
  52. The drag and drop functionality is nice for a quick way to label something, but really - anybody who's going to use labels correctly is going to apply labels with a filter; utilize a test search and then apply the label to all matched results and create a filter rule so they don't have to do it again. Beyond that; I was using Folders4Gmail - using both a greasemonkey script for Firefox, and an IE7Pro script for IE7 and I had all the functionality I wanted: "folders" with sub menus (utilizing the parentfolder/childfolder naming); I was able to expand or collapse a label menu with expandable or collapsable "folders" on the right or left hand side of Gmail - where ever I wanted it; and did not have to deal with the pesky drag and drop for the Gmail illiterate. How do I turn off drag and drop functionality????????????????

    ReplyDelete
  53. Gmail is "Beta" so I suppose anything about it can go away at anytime. Saying that Gmail Labs features that were very popular can just go away at anytime without notice is kinda snotty and a tad "evil".

    ReplyDelete
  54. This is quite useful for my personal email, but for corporate I use ALL of my labels nearly everyday. And now that I cannot have Labels on the right side, I can't see my calender, docs etc. It's horrible! PLEASE allow right side labels again... or atleast the ability to put everything else on the right side....

    ReplyDelete
  55. "Alex Chitu said on July 2, 2009 12:54 AM PDT:
    I don't see why you need the "right-side labels" feature:

    - hide the system labels you don't use frequently (starred, sent items, spam, trash).
    - show all the labels you've created and hide the labels that are rarely used.
    - if you use Gmail Chat and you still need more space, enable the "right-side chat" feature in Gmail Labs.
    - remember that Labs feature could disappear at any time and that you've used Gmail before there was a Labs section"

    Your "fix" wont do it. I need all my labels on the right side for easy and fast access. I used to have only labels on my right side just for that. And if you read all the comments above you are clearly a minority;-)

    ReplyDelete
  56. New drag and drop is nice for deleting messges but I don't think it works well with labeling messages, too much scrolling.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Personally, the "labels on the right" feature wasn't the dealbreaker for me, but I can certainly empathize with those who depend on it. For me it's the total crippling of Folders4Gmail. Don't tell me, Google, that hierarchical folder support was an undocumented feature exploited by some scripting opportunist - Google IMAP access has built-in support for organizing labels with slashes as hierarchical folders!!! So you acknowledge the hierarchy of such labels in Gmail! Don't take away the Folders4Gmail capability, please.

    From the Gmail blog: "For those of you who created label names like _stuff or ++todo++ to force your most-used labels to the top..." Yes, for those of us who take control of our email reading rather than ceding control, Google says "screw you." This is the sad legacy of corporate software: make things seem easier for the lazy user by taking away control from the savvy user.

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  58. Folders4Gmail's author promises that he'll update the script, so watch this page.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I dislike this new approach. I want the right-sided labels back. I thought Google was about letting users decide what they want. Now they are telling us what's good for us. Bring back the right-sided labels.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I agree with all those that are unhappy with the changes.
    They should have looked at people using folder4gmail and right hand labels (i.e. label power users) and how they affected them before doing this change (at least they should have tried not to break everything).
    People on lifehacker are not happy either http://lifehacker.com/5305514/gmail-gives-labels-the-folder-treatment

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  61. We need the right side view back!!

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  62. It is a creative idea that could be useful. I don't like it though since the labels show above the chat. I use 80+ labels and would like to un-hide them all. Can you add an option to put the labels below the chat?

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  63. There is a labs feature called right-side chat. That will give you more room for your labels on the left.

    ReplyDelete
  64. I want right-side labels back, for the same reason as others above: I have a lot of labels, and a bunch of filters that bypass the Inbox, and I can no longer see the unread counts on non-Inbox labels without either clicking something or needing to scroll to get Chat.

    For the moment I'm using right-side Chat as a workaround, but I would very much prefer to be able to achieve the layout I had before with right-side labels.

    If the system labels now need to be kept together with the others so that they all get right-sided as a block, that's acceptable. But please, please bring right-side labels back in some form.

    If there's any way you can do that automatically for people who used to have the old right-side labels Lab feature selected, that would be good too - I have set up many, many Gmail accounts for technologically naive people, all of which had right-side labels enabled, and I know for a fact that some of those people will *not* be able to find their way into the Settings page to put them back.

    ReplyDelete
  65. This is really helpful and useful feature Google have introduce. It makes people work faster to move E-Mail to their well defined folders or label. Nice update indeed

    ReplyDelete
  66. I've managed to add 20 labels and they're all visible without having to scroll down (1280x800 resolution). I'm sure that the "right-side labels" feature couldn't fit more than 25 labels.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Terrible change which was implemented without asking and appears to be uninstallable except be repeatedly reverting to previous version each time you login (wonder how long that will last). I'm using folders4gmail which is now broken. I don't want to see all my labels, neither do I want to see only the mot used. I want to see major label headings with sublabels nested - which is hat folders4gmail gave me. This is not the first time that an 'improvement' has been foisted on us. If we cannot refuse the change then at least give us some control over it e.g. an option to disable it.

    ReplyDelete
  68. >>>I've managed to add 20 labels and they're all visible without having to scroll down (1280x800 resolution). I'm sure that the "right-side labels" feature couldn't fit more than 25 labels.

    That does not help. Many people complaining here have 40+ to 80+ labels. They are able to view all the labels using right-side labels and Folder4Gmail grouping related labels together.

    As someone said above, you are clearly part of the minority who are not affected by this "horrible" update.

    I am also more concerned with the way Google rolled out this update than with the update itself. They should have tested it out and gathered feedback before rolling out such a drastic update. Don't tell me that Google didn't know people are using right-side label and Folder4Gmail.

    ReplyDelete
  69. >>Blogger Alex Chitu said on July 3, 2009 1:18 AM PDT:
    >>I've managed to add 20 labels and they're all visible without having to scroll >>down (1280x800 resolution). I'm sure that the "right-side labels" feature >>couldn't fit more than 25 labels.

    As mentioned by Shirley you are missing the point: it is not only about seeing all of the labels (which folders4gmail allowed to handle in great numbers) but also in having quick access to other useful items:
    quick links and the calendar gadget are two key examples.

    Now is a either / or situation (labels or quick links or calendar) and only if you have very few labels that you want to actively see.
    If you have many is simply a mess.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I prefer to have the labels on the right-side. It sucks that Google removed the ability to move labels around (Our company use Google Apps Premier Edition).

    I like having stuff on both right and left since I am using 1680 x 1050 resolution.

    All I have on the left hand side now is clutter.

    ReplyDelete
  71. This is an outstanding enhancement, Google team! I love it! No more underscores :)

    Now, if you'd just make hierarchical labels, labels would be near perfect.

    Thanks Google - you are the best!

    ReplyDelete
  72. I like right-sided labels because I'm right handed and it made it easier to click on the label I wanted to view. I also like the fact that I can view only the labels I want to view. So ... I want it all!!!! And I want it now!!!! *G*

    Please fix so I can have right side labels again!!

    ReplyDelete
  73. Damn not user-friendly.

    I agree the new label interface really attracting new label users. That is easy for them to use because they will have 4 default labels, likely the only four labels afterward. However, for old users of labels like me already have few hundred labels. The new feature only totally mess up my daily work. Imagine how a I could "drag and drop" to a correct label which may appears few pages below? It really doesn't help. On the other hand, I need click on the "more" button and scroll a few pages to get me correct labels. Previously, I could use Folder4gmail to provide a hierarchy structure to label, which is a function that Google not willing to provide. This change make me feel frustrated. Google is not a user friendly company any more. It becomes a big company who leave no option to users. Where is the next better company??

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  74. Certainly this change is bad ... very bad for those of us who have loads of label. It is just meant to attract new users for labels, but what about the old ones, those who already use hundreds!

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  75. i like the reduction of screen real estate that these changes bring, I have several labels i use infrequently and it is nice to hide them to free up some space

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  76. Labels on the right were perfect - new label system makes me want to revert to a desktop app. Not happy, this is a bummer.

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  77. dgiff asked about being able to label an outgoing email before sending it. That would be very useful to me. Is this curently possible through some trick I'm not aware of yet?

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  78. ya but all my labels suddenly disappeared.... so what good are labels?

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  79. Google. Give me back my labels! I have only a few, and I want to be able to see them all the time.

    And I would like to be able to hide "Chat" completely.

    ReplyDelete