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Gmail Archive - The Least Understood Button
Ed Kohler

Gmail's archive feature is likely the least understood button found on Gmail's navigation. What exactly does archive mean?

Picture 1

Archive does not mean "backup" or some other form off off-site storage. It also doesn't mean that it files things away in hard to reach areas.

What Archive does to: It moves email out of your inbox. That's it.

Archived email is still immediately available using Gmail's search function or by clicking the All Mail button. The beauty of Archive is that it hides emails that you have processed. Once you're read an email, or read & responded to an email, clicking the archive button will save the email (or conversation) OUTSIDE of your inbox.

Once you're done with emails, stop looking at them. Turn your inbox into a place for pending issues ONLY.

My persona workflow: Read, Reply, Archive. Process, then hide.


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1. Posted by: Moe on July 24, 2008 9:08 PM:

Amen. I've been trying to get the wife to learn this very thing. My inbox sits at zero most of the time, while she has thousands of emails in hers, and she has no idea what issue is closed or not.

Email isn't all that difficult.

2. Posted by: porridge on July 30, 2008 7:59 PM:

Ed, how many e-mails do you have archived?

My personal Gmail box has 8,387 since 10/1/04 and Gmail box has 17,598 since 2/8/05. I use the "STAR" feature and labels to keep all the e-mail in PP box organized and prioritized. I looove my little systems.

3. Posted by: Ed Kohler on July 31, 2008 11:53 AM:

I imported old Outlook emails into my initial account, so that has 26,143 going back to December of 1998 (and still instantly retrievable, which is awesome). My newer account is around a year old and only has 2,633 so far. Lightweight.

4. Posted by: michael willems on January 30, 2009 12:33 PM:

Um. All very well, but not if you use IMAP.

My "all mail" button now sits at 103,000 emails. That is in spite of me throwing out everything spam. Yes, I get a lot of emails and subscribe to many mail lists.

So now when I use IMAP on my Mac and try to go to the "all mail" category, I sit there for about an hour and a quarter while the IMAP account on tha Mac tries to catch up with those 100,000 headers.

There must surely be a way that is better. I am happy to have 100,000 in old storage that takes an hour to get to. But I want the last three months easily accessible - that would be maybe 5,000 mails, which is a much easier number.

So I use the inbox - that is about the easiest way

Gmail is uninituitive. "No-one's wife gets it". I do not get the silly grouping of email, which always shows me the wrong thing. I want to see th eemail Rob sent me at 9am, and I do not want to guess whcih "conversation" it is hiding in. This system, with repect, is rubbish...


5. Posted by: Ed Kohler Author Profile Page on February 1, 2009 6:14 PM:

IMAP is definitely different than the web based interface. Rather than waiting an hour, you could open gmail directly and have your answer in a few seconds.

6. Posted by: Gerry on March 30, 2010 11:06 AM:

Please respond to me at my email, rather than on this site.

I can't find the archive button. Maybe I would use it if I could find it.

What do I do to archive something? Do I click on the box on the left of the message and then send it to "archive" the same way I would send it to a "category" or "folder?"

Once I've archived something, will the amount of space used in my in box go back up again?

Most important of all, can I read the message I've archived? Don't just say "yes," Please tell me "how" to access it.

Thank you. Let's see if you can convince me to use this "least understood button."

While we're at it, please explain to me how to access chat and video features. I see no buttons for them either!!

7. Posted by: Gerry on March 30, 2010 11:12 AM:

Arrgh!! I just tried to post a question. But I got kicked off. . . I wrote only about 10 lines, but was told it was too much!

I ‘ll try again. Please send answers to my email. Don't post them here!

First, where (!!) in the heck is (!!) the archive button?
Second, how (!!) do I actually put stuff in it?
Third, how do I access it?
These seem like silly questions, but as the previous posting says, this system is not all that intuitive!
Sorry for venting my frustration, but. . . I ‘ll be happy to use these gadjets if I can get help with them. I ‘m not that good on computers!

8. Posted by: twohawks on March 31, 2010 3:14 PM:

How do you see messages that you have archived? I see no way of doing that. Please help.

9. Posted by: john wilbert on April 6, 2010 4:40 PM:

i want to reread archived emails

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