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Bloggers Ask Bloggers To Help With Gmail

Gmail Email icon grahic copyright Lorelle VanFossenOne of the most wonderful things of being a blogger among wonderful bloggers is our ability to ask other bloggers for help, and their amazing willingness to help – even total strangers. All because we have blogging in common.

When I spent a long month last year writing about WordPress Plugins, I also asked readers and fellow bloggers to answer the call for Plugins I wanted and needed to improve WordPress capabilities and features. They responded, developing some of the most popular WordPress Plugins around. Plugins that are functional and needed.

Today, Google’s Gmail has become the blogger’s best friend, allowing centralization of all our blog emails, fast alerts and access, and more. While it is actually highly inconvenient, slow, and clumsy to use, Gmail works and bloggers love it.

So much so, some bloggers have come up with Firefox Extensions and Greasemonkey scripts to improve Gmail. One of the most popular is the Better Gmail 2 Firefox Extension by LifeHacker, a blog of determined top contributors not only cover blogging issues, they tackle problems of life, living, working, and blogging. And Gmail.

So I come to you, the amazingly talented bloggers, to come up with some better improvements for Gmail now that it has become so critical to the life and work of bloggers. These would need to work within the various web browsers like Firefox, IE, Safari, and Opera, or be limited to only one, Firefox preferably as it is often the blogger’s favorite browser.

Here is my wish list, and if you know of an existing tool, please let us know. I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing Gmail was more useful to bloggers. Maybe if we whine loud enough, Google may fix it, but until then, we bloggers need to unite.

  1. Stop Including Email in Reply: One of the biggest time wasters I do dozens to hundreds of times a day is remove the email content of the email I’m replying to from my responding email. Rarely ever do I need the past information in the email. With email threading, why does Gmail force this upon us without an option? Every email program I’ve ever used, online and off, included an option to include or not include the responding email content. I don’t want it. I can’t find a way to turn it off or remove it. Suggestions? Fixes?
  2. Colorize Email Titles: If an email comes if from my Lorelle on WordPress email account, I want it in red so I can jump to it immediately. I want responses to my column emails to be in blue – quickly, eye-catching colors.
  3. Faster and Easier Searching: I often have to look up “recent conversations” from specific people. Right now, it’s a long series of mouse and click movements to access the recent conversations link, and I often miss as I move too fast. I want one icon next to the name in the contact list or next to their name in the inbox list that shows me all of the emails from that person. Fast.
  4. Ability to Look Up Emails Without Leaving This Email: This is probably a core function, but I want the ability to look up past emails for references to include in the email I’m writing. Currently, it’s a two tab deal, with one open to the inbox and the other for the email I’m working on. Or, if I don’t have time nor energy for two tabs, I’ll have to write up the email in a text editor, copying in the links from past emails, then opening a new Compose email to paste in the email from the text editor. Why all this work for a common behavior with email??

That’s my list of whines for Gmail. As a fellow blogger, what improvements and features would you want to see in Gmail? Or do you even use Gmail? Better yet, if you use Gmail for your blogging, how do you make it work better for you?

Tips for Using Gmail

The following are some of the articles and sites I’ve bookmarked and added to my feed reader to help me learn more about using Gmail.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted March 20, 2008 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, the subject coloring is definitely possible with Gmail, using filtering and labels. Just create a filter for comments on BlogHerald, etc. (the process is pretty straightforward) and tell Gmail to apply a label “BlogHerald Comments” to every message that the filter catches. You can customize the color of labels to your choosing, and while the subject is not colored, a colored block with the name of the label appears next to the subject when listed.

  2. Posted March 20, 2008 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong somebody, but I think the previous email text included in replies is how gmail identifies threaded mail? Or is it the subject field?

  3. Posted March 20, 2008 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Someone already mentioned using a colorful label to give you the color you seek.

    One of the included features of the better Gmail extension that you reference is one-click access to recent conversations. If you enable it, you’ll have a small “person” icon next to each conversation, right next to the star icon. Clicking on the person icon shows recent conversations.

  4. Posted March 20, 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    One easy way to get around the annoyances in Gmail is to pick up your mail with another mail client. I have used Eudora to pick up all my mail from all my email accounts for years. You can set up filters in Eudora to send incoming mail to a separate mailbox if you want. You can attach color coded labels. You can reply in whatever format suits you best. And you can search through any or all of your mailboxes for whatever text string you want.

    And, best of all, your email is all stored on your own computer so you are not at the mercy of an internet connection (or lack thereof).

    I understand that Eudora’s being folded into Thunderbird. I have only a little experience with Thunderbird so I can’t say if it incorporates all of Eudora’s useful features but it might also be worth a look.

  5. Posted March 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I have been using Gmail since way back when you had to have an invite to join. It is an amazing service. I have never went back to yahoo or hotmail.

  6. Posted March 21, 2008 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Darren wrote: I think the previous email text included in replies is how gmail identifies threaded mail? Or is it the subject field?

    Threads are identified using information in the header.

    Wish number two can be solved by creating filters and setting colored labels. I use it in Gmail to help me see what is important.

  7. Posted March 21, 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    While it is actually highly inconvenient, slow, and clumsy to use

    Sorry I am not in a position to write a plugin for Firefox to help Lorelle, but I _did_ want to say that I find GMail superb. I find it is much better (even) than the best desktop client I have used (won’t bore-on here (like I did here) as to why).

    Sorry you find it as you do, but perhaps it’s the ‘climbing the hill’ thing — it all seems a bit useless until you get to the top and see the view; certainly for me, once I had used GMail enough to become familiar with it, I was simply blown away by the job the engineers and designers did in making a new* (*fresh answers to old problems) email client.

    Again, sorry this is not a plugin post and only a GMail bigUp.

    Cheers, -Alan

  8. Posted March 25, 2008 at 12:35 am | Permalink


    Great post, great site!

    You GMail wishes are pretty cool. One thing, and it’s pretty lame, but one thing I’d like is an easier interface for changing “who” is sending the email. I have a bunch of emails I run out of the one GMail account, and sometimes I forget, and it uses my default email .. so I’ve just opted for my “safest” email, and now rarely change it.

    But I’d like contextual “who”-ing of the sender :).

  9. Posted March 25, 2008 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Nice post lorelle, Gmail is awesome but it needs a bit of more work, I think it can come to the position of best webmail with a help of some plugin writers and coders.

  10. Posted March 29, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Nice info, Gmail even more practical then I could have imagined. Thanks for all your bookmarks.

    And yes, your book “Blogging Tips” is worth to be recommended for anyone who is considering to start blogging. Great work Lorelle!

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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