Folders in Gmail?

Hi Computer Lady,

LOVE your site! I’ve been reading you for years and enjoy your instruction. I know you’ll be able to help me with my problem and MAKE IT EASY TO UNDERSTAND how to fix it. Here it is:

We have Windows XP. My problem is with Google Gmail. Every Gmail we receive comes into our Inbox AND All Mail ….. so we’re getting double entries!

I just want the email to come into the Inbox and let ME Archive the messages I NEED to.

From reading about this on Gmail forums, it seems like it should be an OPTION and not MANDATORY.

But… when I read the forums, it talks about IMAP and POP and that’s Greek to me. HELP! Please? 🙂

Any help you give us will be GREATLY appreciated!!! Donna

Dear Donna,

Thank you for your question! I think I understand your issue, but just to clarify, I understand your statement above to say that your email messages show up once in the “Inbox” category, and again in the “All Mail” category, not that you are getting two copies of each message in the same category.

If my understanding of your question is correct, then your answer is actually quite simple, and you don’t really have to “do” anything. Let me explain how Google stores email messages in Gmail.

First, if you used email programs in the past like Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Live Mail, or any of the other popular email programs, you stored your messages in folders. You could either move an email message into another folder, or make a copy in another folder. If you made a copy, you would have two copies of that message stored in your email.

Google does not use folders to store it’s email. Instead it uses categories. These categories work kind of like tags for your photos. You can tag a photo with more than one tag, but you still have only one photo.

When you click on “All Mail” you will see all the actual messages stored in your Gmail folder. When you click on “Inbox” you are looking at all the messages stored in your Gmail folder that are in the inbox category. Since there is no actual inbox folder, you don’t have another copy of the email message.

I hardly ever use the “All Mail” category. The only time I find it useful is when I am searching for a message and I don’t remember when category I put it in. I can go to “All Mail” and search for the message.

Let’s imagine that I send you my weekly, “Ask The Computer Lady” email. It arrives in your Gmail account and it has the “Inbox” category attached to it. You open your inbox and read my email. When you are finished, you don’t want to keep it in your inbox, but you don’t want to delete it either. So, you “move” it to a category you created just for saving computer newsletters. When you click on “Move To” and select your category, you are not actually moving the message to another folder, what you are doing is removing the “Inbox” category, and applying the “Computer Newsletter” category.

One of the nice things about using categories instead of folders is that you can have one single message be in more than one category without making multiple copies of the message. I can have a message with a “Family” category, “Recipe” category and still keep it with the “Inbox” category. Even though there is still only one message, it will show up in each of those categories in addition to the “All Mail” category.

I hope this helps explain the way Gmail stores it’s messages.


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