Gmail’s New Spam Filter on Steroids


Not all e-mails are created equal, which is why Google has launched a new Gmail feature that prioritizes emails in your Inbox for you, separating the important e-mails from the ones that can be sent later.

“People tell us all that time that they’re getting more and more mail and often feel overwhelmed by it all,” Doug Aberdeen, software engineer, explained on the Official Google Blog on Monday. “It’s time-consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply.”

To help, the company is introducing Priority Inbox. Think of it as a spam filter on steroids. It breaks your Inbox down into three separate categories: “Important and unread,” “Starred” and “Everything else.”  And as emails come in, they are classified as “Important and Unread” or “Everything Else.” The “Starred folder” is where users can move messages they’ll need for future reference.

According to the blog post, Gmail uses a variety of signals to decide what message belongs where, including who you email most and which messages you actually open and/or reply to. It will also classify an e-mail based on how quickly a sender’s previous messages were deleted or how long they were stored.  

“If you e-mail Bob a lot, a message from Bob is probably important,” Aberdeen wrote.

Similar to the company’s existing GoogleReader, Priority Inbox is designed to get better as you use it. So while it is intended to minimize the hours logged into Gmail, it will require some initial face time.

In the long run, however, the company thinks the tool will increase productivity and efficiency. According to CNN, Google's test run of the feature found that ultimately the amount of time users spent in Gmail fell by 13%. (You know a company is doing well when they develop a product that helps you use their services less.)

Google has tested Priority Inbox with select users and will continue to slowly roll out the feature throughout the week. You’ll know you’ve chosen to give it a go when you see the "New! Priority Inbox" link in the top right corner of your Gmail account or the new Priority Inbox tab appears in your Gmail Settings.

So far, reactions to the new feature have been mixed. Those who use Gmail for personal reasons seemed delighted with the prospect on skipping out on Spam.

“Definitely a good feature for Gmail,” Seo Guru wrote on “I am receiving lots of emails that I consider less priority. Now with that feature, I can manage it with a click. Good job, Gmail.”

Another blogger on the site, Vooying, concurred, saying “once again, Gmail leaps to the head of the class, miles ahead of the rest.”

Others, however, are questioning the feature’s necessity.

“I just don't think this is necessary if people would simply manage their inboxes properly,” JaxStephens wrote on Cnet. “I have people at work who have hundreds and even thousands of messages in their inboxes, using them like permanent storage. That's not how the technology is meant to be utilized.”

Meanwhile, one small business owner was downright angry with Google’s latest invention.

“It's definitely going to hurt email efficacy,” Howl Venice wrote in response to an article on TechCrunch. “As a small business owner who distributes infrequent emails to valued clients, I know my newsletters will be forced to the bottom of the list. Thanks, Gmail.”

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