Gmail priority inbox FAIL. Email is too important

A couple months ago, Google released Priority Inbox, which claims to sort your email so the most important messages are on top. I was skeptical and retweeted Bill Lee:


Email is important to me. I read and respond to every message I get. So how would a different sort algorithm help?

Then last week, Loic tweeted:


Sort algorithms and recommendation engines are great for non mission critical information. Amazon can recommend products I should buy, Netflix can recommend movies I should watch, and Fiipboard can recommend news I should read. If any of these services makes a mistake, it doesn’t hurt.

But missing an email is painful, it makes me look bad. Email is too important in my day to day life to trust something like Priority Inbox.

What do you think? Is anyone using Priority Inbox with any success? How exactly does it help?


  1. I use it extensively. I ultimately deal with the non-priority mail as well, but not as quickly. I get lots of marketing email that doesn’t show up in priority. I also tend to use the "Archive all visible items" on the "Everything else" dropdown once I’ve skimmed or read everything there.

  2. Love it since day one. NOT every email is important and I do not respond to every email. When Apple builds it for their email client you know you will just gush over it 🙂

  3. I use it too, it separates the latest amazon offers from friends’ emails quite well. The former I can ignore for a few days, the latter I need to read ASAP!

  4. Use it almost all the time when I am using a non-mobile browser. For me I am spending less time checking my email and in Gmail

  5. <html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">Tejas, how does it help you spend less time in email? Do you read messages don’t fall into the "priority" category?<br><div><div></div></div></body></html>

  6. <font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000066">Indeed I do read them. I do quickly glance through the message header that don't fall into &quot;priority&quot; category and see if anything is crying for urgent attention. If the messages can wait then I respond to them/read through them in the time that suits me.</font><div> <font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000066"><br></font></div><div><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000066">Call me inefficient but I used to check my email every 15-20 minutes to check if anything important has dropped in my inbox and then get distracted by other non-important/urgent email. Priority Inbox has reduced those distractions as my focus is on clearing Priority Inbox as soon as I can and everything else can wait till my best available time.</font></div> <div><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000066"><br></font></div><div><font class="Apple-style-span" color="#000066">For me for the most part, Priority Inbox flags the message correctly as well.<br></font><br></div>

  7. <html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">Tejas, i like that approach. You can check your email frequently and only respond to high priority messages. then deal with the others later. as long as you still check all email at some point through the day, that seems like a great solution<div><br><div><div></div></div></div></body></html>

  8. Have been using Priority Inbox for as long it has been there but noticed quite fast that it takes some sort of tweaking to be usable enough. I’ve added some new labels for sorting mail like TODO and if email have something that should be done, I mark it so and messages with the label show up in one section of Priority Inbox.Sometimes sorting algorithm does not work that accurately and I have to manually adjust messages to lower priority (not really sure how much training filters should get to work better, though).One way to increase usefulness of Gmail is to create set of filters that label messages based of the content so I can see directly from the list of messages (even in traditional Inbox view) those messages that are less important (like mailing list posts) and try to focus on more essential messages. Used that approach for many years even before the new feature. Setting up manual filters required little bit of time during these years but it has ultimately been making email much easier to handle (even if I don’t receive that much email compared to power users like you…).

  9. <html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">We hope to have a twitter embed soon. it’s on the list. what i can’t believe is, why doesn’t twitter have a native way to embed tweets?<br><div><div></div></div></body></html>

  10. I still use it and like it a lot. In fact, I started using gmail on the iphone via Safari instead of the built in mail tool so that I could get priority inbox (mail tool on the iphone doesn’t really support it yet).For me it provides a way to have email in that space that lies between stuff I need to read and spam. There definitely have been a few times I’ve missed stuff but it seems to learn well when I decide a sender should be a priority.

  11. We have been using it for a while now and I find it to pretty accurately sort the real (requiring action) email from newsletters etc which is a big time-saver as it means the important emails from our listeners and artists/labels etc are always prominent.

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