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Labels vs Folders  (View post)

Natasha Robinson [PersonRank 1]

Thursday, July 14, 2005
15 years ago

PL,

I was just in my GMail account and thinking... "When the heck are they going to get folders". The Labeling Option, is the one thing that I don't like about Gmail. It would be great if after you put a label on something that you had the option to at least "hide" email posts with that label...dare to dream... I better get off my soap box, before I really get going....Thanks for the posting this.

Natasha "That Girl From Marketing" Robinson

Shaun Robinson [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

You CAN hide emails with lables.. its called Archiving.

If you want to treat GMail's labels just as folders, do this:

- Only ever give 1 label to a single message.
- After labelling it, Archive it (this takes away the 'inbox' label)

Voila, your labels are now treated like folders

Natasha Robinson [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

... Are we related – lol

re: "Only ever give 1 label to a single message"... that makes sense... that's sarcasm

But seriously, I do use the archiving feature... and it's not the same.

Thanks for the suggestion though... that's not sarcasm

Natasha "That Girl From Marketing" Robinson

Jim Barr [PersonRank 4]

15 years ago #

The difficulty is wrapping your mind around the whole Label concept. Once you "get it", you'll never go back to Folders. Labels let you still view things in a folder-like hierarchy, it just has the potential to become a multi-dimensional hierarchy.

For example, you set up folders called "Family", "Vacations", "Jokes". Your friend sends you a joke so you file it in your "Jokes" folder. Your brother sends you picture, so you file it in the "Family" folder. But what happens when your father sends you information about your upcoming vacation plans? What to do? You must then pick between "Family" and "Vacations" and later on, you may not remember what folder you put it in.

With Labels, you simply assign the mesasge a "Family" and a "Vacations" Label, and it appears in both places. By clicking on a Label on the left column, you view all messages with that label--just like folders.

The only real problem with Labels in general and Gmail in particular is that Gmail has yet to provide a "show all Unlabeled" messages function. You have to use a kludgy Search string to accomplish this (see my GmailTips.com site for details.) Messages, if inadvertently Archived without Labeling, end up in the All Mail view, and can be hard to later locate--especially if you have thousands of messages.

TwisterMc [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Labels rock! Gmail has Labels, Thunderbird has Saved Searches and MacOSX has Smart Folders, playlists, albums and a bunch of other 'smart' features. Labels/Saved Searches/Smart Folders, whatever you call them, are soooo nice.

Richard Lusk [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Would'nt it just be a lot easier to keep the folder metaphor and have the ability to *copy* (replicate) or *filter* messages to multiple folders?

Phillip Fayers [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Google should stop calling them labels and call them tags, maybe then more people would understand.

Jim Barr [PersonRank 4]

15 years ago #

Richard: Gmail essentially does that, except that it's more efficient because the messages aren't actually copied. The difference in concept is that labels are applied to messages instead of messages being applied to folders. Clicking on a Label view is essentially the same as clicking on a Folder except that messages can have multiple Labels, so they can show up in multiple Label views.

Phillip: It's really just semantics, but "Label" really does make sense.

Think about it. On your desk at work, you have several pieces of paper. You want to organize them in such a way that you can group and identify what's on each piece of paper.

With the Folder concept, you place label on folders and put the papers into their respective folders. When you want a specific piece of paper, you open the folder and there is is. Problem is that short of making a photo copy, the paper can only exist in one folder at a time.

With thie Label concept, you would create stick-on labels for each classification. You would then stick the labels on each piece of paper depending on how the paper is classified with each piece of paper having one or possibly more than one stick-on label. When you want to find something, you just go through all the papers and pull all the pieces of paper with the same label. Unfortunatly, in the real world, that's clumsy because you have to rifle through ALL the pieces of paper until you find all the ones with labels you are looking for. In the Gmail world however, the computer does it for you, so it's effortless.

Again, the major problem is that there is no "Find Unlabeled messages" function, so it can be cumbersome ensuring that all messages are labeled.

Gabriele Domenichini [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I totally agree: labels are better because are more powerful.
The only problem, as outlined above, is that the real-life metaphor they follow apear to the normal user as not convenient. This is because people is used to put papers in folders and not to label them to find them quickly.
If we free ourselves from the limits of real world I find the labels more productive not only more powerful.
The only problem I see is the proliferation of them and the necessity of showing them all at once in one level which can apear confusing.
I would like to see labeling also on thunderbird (saved serch folders is not the same because deal with a characteristic of a message and not by a choice of classification of the user).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Gabriele, you point to an interesting phenomonen: sometimes, bad metaphors are better because users are used to them. Take the "save" icon on Windows: it's a small disk, and we don't even use disks anymore these days. The icon resembles neither real world anymore, nor does it represent the process or what's happening internally. And yet, if I'd have to make an application with a save icon, I would use that same disk...

Folders, of course, are known amongst Windows users (and those of other OSes, I assume). I understand them and use them, but you know... I don't actually use folders in real life.

Labels are more powerful, as you say, because they allow you to put something in "several folders at once" if you want. They are less powerful in that they don't contain hierarchies. But Google is more and more giving up on hierarchy as an instrument to information maintenance (just think of how they got rid of the Open Directory Project on the start page, and I'm sure that was due to low traffic). Today, people are getting used to flat + tagging + searchable. The more people use Gmail and other Google products, the stronger this particular metaphor gets. While a small software developer shouldn't change a metaphor, a large software house can do this – they have the power of proliferating it, as you put it.

Caleb E [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

a note on "tag" vs "label" – "tag" tends to imply sharing, like on del.icio.us, while a "label" is private.

ildar [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

the problem is that I am not able to view 2 or 3 labels at the same time.

eg I need to view an invoice and click "invoices" label, but then I must have an ability to click on "customer name" label.

If I had this ability this would be really GREAT!

I am planning to orginise all my files on harddisk and all my music and pictures using labels if I knew where to get such file manager software, anyone knows?

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Load Gmail in a new window / tab.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

idar: You *can* do this.

Simply search for [label:invoices OR label:customer-name].

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Or even [label:invoices AND label:customer-name] (of course).

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

When we get GDrive, do you suppose ALL of our files will be labelled rather than being put into folders?

I'm rather looking forward to that.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

<<I am planning to orginise all my files on harddisk and all my music and pictures using labels if I knew where to get such file manager software, anyone knows?

Windows XP does that. Right-click a file, Properties, Summary tab and edit Keywords field (it works for images, docs and other file types).

Find them using the normal search option in XP, by entering the tag in "Containing text" field.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #


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