From The Tips Box: Gmail Filters, Playlists, Housewarming Gifts

Readers offer their best tips for changing the order of Gmail filters, compiling large playlists, and making sure your food order is crystal clear.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in — the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Export Gmail Filters to Change Their Order

If you use a lot of filters in Gmail, you know that it's very important sometimes what order Gmail uses to apply them. By default, it's the order in which they were created, but you can rearrange them (without re-creating them with this nice tweak (Thanks, ernangibleil!):

This isn't a pretty solution, but it's quite easy to implement. Start by going into Gmail Labs (Settings/Labs or click the little green beaker in the top right corner of the Gmail page) and enabling the "Filter import/export" functionality. Be sure to save your changes.

Now when you view your filters (Settings/Filters), there will be a checkbox off to the left of each filter. Simply do the following:

1. Check the box for all of your filters (or click the "All" link at the bottom)

2. Scroll down to the "Export" button (which is greyed out unless filter are selected)

3. Click the button and you'll be able to save a file called mailFilters.xml

Now simply open up that file in your favourite text or xml editor and modify it to your heart's content. The filters themselves are wrapped in "entry" tags, like this:

< entry >

blah blah blah (including category, title, id, updated, etc. fields)

< /entry >

Just move those blocks around to change the order of the filters.

The last step is to re-import your filters.

1. Delete your old filters by checking the box next to each and clicking the "Delete" button (next to "Export")

2. Click the "Import filters" link at the very bottom of the filters page

3. Click the "Choose File" button, and select your modified mailFilters.xml file

4. Click "Open file" and you'll be presented with a list of filters to import

5. Make sure all of the checkboxes are checked and then click "Create filters"

Note that this same procedure works for Google Apps.

How to Change the Order of Your Gmail Filters [jammer(six)]

Use Separate Windows and Shuffle for Easy Large Playlist Creation

jmhavel shares a few tips on making long music playlists:

If you're making a substantially large playlist (over 45 songs), it often gets tedious dragging and dropping the song into the one-line-high playlist name box. It would be a lot easier if the box was larger so you don't have to be slow and careful when dragging and consequently dropping. An effective way to fix this problem is to double click the playlist to put make it a pop-out window. Set this new playlist-specific window on the left side of screen, making it however big you want the drop zone. Bring iTunes up to the front and start the drag and drop process to the secondary window. This starts the playlist creation process, however, the method is only effective for about 40 songs assuming you want to maintain song order. The more and more you add, the smaller your dropzone becomes. Also, if you frequently come back to the playlist over a long period of time, you have to keep scrolling to the bottom of the list. To prevent this problem, throw your pop-out playlist on shuffle before you begin adding more songs. Then, when you are done, you can take it off shuffle, putting all of the original songs back in the proper order along with the tracks you just added, all in their proper chronological place.

Note that the tip for shuffle may not work with all media players, so do a test with yours before you have to make a whole playlist over again.

Give Emergency Kits as Housewarming Gifts

Photo by marvinxsteadfast.

Lisa lets us know how to really welcome people to the neighbourhood:

If you're searching for the perfect housewarming gift, don't overlook the usefulness of an emergency kit specific to the region where you live. A couple of years ago my boyfriend moved down here to Florida from Colorado. As a housewarming present, I made him a hurricane kit with maps of local evacuation routes, shelter info, checklists, Ziploc bags, batteries, flashlights, and a bunch of other stuff you'd need before or after a hurricane.

If you don't live in hurricane territory, just adapt the idea to the natural disaster potential unique to your area. The idea might seem a little gloomy (nothing says "welcome to the neighborhood" like flood zone maps), but it'll be a lot more useful than a houseplant if Mother Nature decides to come calling.

Use "Only" When Custom Ordering at a Restaurant

Photo by Cassio Cricor.

muzicman82 tells us the most effective way to order food clearly:

When customising at restaurants, specify "Only " instead of what you don't want. Sometimes, it skips extra charges and usually ensures your order is just like you want it. At McDonald's, I order burgers with "Only mayo and onions". If I tell them to "Add mayo", I'll be charged $US0.25 for it.

Use a Dedicated Calendar for SMS Reminders

Jim Edwards shows us how to keep up on reminders without cluttering your calendar:

For quick reminders, I've setup a second google calendar called "Quickreminder" that I keep not visible on my calendar, but lets me add date/time reminders with sms reminders. So I can be reminded to do something at a specific date/time in the future.


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