Wulf's Webden

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Querying Gmail

Long ago I used to have the problem of how to store my email. In order to avoid the available space on my drives getting filled up I tended to delete a lot of messages. Then I discovered Gmail and the only messages I’ve deleted since have been spam or ephemeral information messages from different systems. Marvellously, because the storage limits keep increasing, I am still only using about 33% of my allocation even though the archive is now into gigabytes.

That means I can search back and pull out useful information. For example, the local “freecycle” type scheme (called Freegle in Oxford) has a mountain of posts. I’ve got all of them and, when assessing who to give an item to I can dig back through their history and check that they appear to interact within the spirit of the system rather than just asking for things all the time (which would make me suspect that might be after items to sell rather genuinely being part of the give and take economy).

Gmail offers some quite powerful search tools but I was pleased to realise this morning that the search gets built into the URL – that means, I can bookmark a search rather than retyping it. For example, here is a search that digs through all my items tagged fc-ox (done automatically by a filter as they arrive) and which have a subject line containing words starting with “offer”:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/label%3A_fc-ox+subject%3Aoffer

That won’t work for you unless you use the same labels but it means I can now click on a browser bookmark to check on what has recently come up on the list rather than having to scan over lots of WANTED and TAKEN messages, saving time and making it easier to spot things I might be interested in.

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