Gmail's powerful filters have long been one of its strongest features, if you're willing to create and nurture them. Now a new Gmail Labs feature is giving every user a few pre-set Smart Labels to automatically catch bulk messages, service notifications, and mailing lists.
What kind of mail do the Smart Labels catch? Three main kinds, with one of them automatically kept out of your inbox:
"Bulk" mail includes any kind of mass mailing (such as newsletters and promotional email) and gets filtered out of your inbox by default (where you can easily read it later), "Notifications" are messages sent to you directly (like account statements and receipts), and email from group mailing lists gets labelled as "Forums."
- Bulk: Mass mailings, like newsletters and offerings from companies. Basically, the email equivalent of the bulk mail you get in paper form.
- Notifications: Messages sent to you directly, but automatically generated — monthly statements, bills, receipts and social service updates.
- Forums: Messages from mailing lists, forums or other groups you've joined.
Google says that these new, automatically populated filters won't touch any filters you already have set up, and that they can be edited to increase or slim down their scope in your Filter settings.
Head into the Labs section of Gmail to search and enable Smart Labels (or click here). They may not be immediately available, but should arrive soon. Tell us how they're working in your own over-stuffed inbox in the comments.