Today I saw this post on Lifehacker about color coding messages addressed to you in Microsoft Outlook. It made me think that I should share a slight modification in Thunderbird that I have been doing for quite some time. I reverse the method that is proposed in the post. I choose to ‘un-highlight’ messages that are not explicitly for me, by turning them a lighter color. This way I can scan my emails very quickly and see those are that more than likely something I need to pay attention to.
I do this solely in my work email account. Like many people, I am subscribed to many email lists within the company that send mail that I don’t need to respond to immediately, if at all. I belong to lists about IT, general facility information, and the like. What I do is use the under-used Labels function of Thunderbird, in conjunction with a special filter.
First, I like to edit the color for the pre-defined label “Later” to make it a little more muted. Do this by going into Tools > Options > Display > Labels. I like to use the light grey third from the top on the far left. Click the image to see a larger screenshot.
Now, any mail messages that are labeled “Later” will appear in the light color you can see behind the dialog box in the screenshot.
The next step is to create an email filter that labels messages that aren’t for you. In my case, there are certain mailing lists that are very important to me and I should treat them as directly to me. Therefore I create the mail filter to label messages that aren’t to me or to any of these special lists. To do this, go to Tools > Message Filters and hit New…. The following screenshot shows a sample of what my filter would look like. Click the image to see a larger screenshot.
Combining this approach with keeping the Inbox relatively clear can do wonders. Not only do you actually see a smaller amount of messages, but the ones aren’t that really needing attention don’t grab it as much.
Hope someone enjoys and can use this!