Design Technology

Gmail Labels: Meh

my labelsAs much as I buy into Google’s many efforts to take over my electronic life, I have to confess that after four years of using Gmail, I still miss my Outlook-style folder organization system. I know, I know – Microsoft, boo hiss! – but let’s face it, Google, for a person with a sliver of a life, your label system is way too laid back.

I understand that I am supposed to use your powerful search tool to find emails that I need, that by “archiving” them I am creating my own customized database of messages. But my brain has been trained to file things, not archive them. (Maybe my newly-minted librarian friend Ivy can help us here.) I like folders. I like putting folders inside other folders. The idea of searching for my own documents, rather than filing them, makes me feel like I’m sitting at a messy desk and someone else says, “I swear, everything is right where you left it when you went on vacation. Go ahead, ask me where X is. I’ll get it for you.”

I am way too much of a control freak for this laissez-faire attitude toward email.

So Google gives us labels to try to satsify the Type-A need for control. Sorry, G, these labels do not cut the mustard. Sure, they seem fine at first, but even having separate email accounts for personal, professional, and wedding communications, I still yearn for categorization within these three aspects of my life. (See my slapdash hack for grouping my active clients together, above.) Is this a brain that can’t break out of the Outlook mold? Does my brain just take longer than four years to accept Google’s loosey-goosey labeling system? Will Google ever yield and say, “Enough whining! Here’s your damn folders!”

Seriously, though, how much more whining will it take, guys.