This article was published on December 2, 2010

Intelligently silence Gmail conversations with “Smart Mute”

Intelligently silence Gmail conversations with “Smart Mute”
Tris Hussey
Story by

Tris Hussey

Author, speaker, teacher, & Internet rogue. Author of Create Your Own Blog, Using WordPress, & Teach Yourself Foursquare in 10 Minut Author, speaker, teacher, & Internet rogue. Author of Create Your Own Blog, Using WordPress, & Teach Yourself Foursquare in 10 Minutes.

Email is great, except when a conversation in a mailing list topic (or the dreaded reply-to-all abuse) starts to get a little long in the tooth. You know the conversations you lost interest in after the third email and it’s getting onto about 25 messages now. Right, that’s why Google introduced “muting” to Gmail a while ago.

The problem was that muting like that wasn’t terribly “smart”, because if emails were still addressed to you, you’d wind up with “muted” messages in your inbox. Today, Google has added a new Labs feature in Gmail called Smart Mute that does … well let’s let the folks at Google describe it:

If you enable “Smart Mute” from the Labs tab in Gmail Settings, muted conversations will only appear in your inbox if a new message in the conversation is addressed to you and no one else, or a new email in the conversation adds you to the “To” or “Cc” line. Once you enable Smart Mute, mute behavior will change across all versions of Gmail: web, mobile, Android, etc. Try it out and let us know what you think.

Nice! First, here’s how you set it up.

  1. Go into Gmail and click “Settings” at the top (by your name, Help, etc)
  2. Click “Labs”
  3. Now you need to find “Smart Mute” Google doesn’t make this really easy. Sure they are in alphabetical order, but it’s easy to miss the new features (there is no highlight). Here’s what you’re looking for:

    My handy trick is to use command (or control)-f to Find something on the page. I started typing “Smart mute” and got it right off.
  4. Click “Save changes” all they way at the bottom.
  5. Enjoy!

Oh, but how you ask? Right, easy. Google added a neat little short cut under the “More Actions” button to Mute and Unmute conversations:

And if you see a message that you want to unmute a conversation while browsing around you can also “unlabel” it as muted like this:

Pretty spiffy I think. I’m often prone to just deleting a lot of conversations that start dragging on, this lets me keep an archive of something that might be important later (for example something from the WordPress testers mailing list), but I’m really done with for the moment.

Of course, sometimes you just need to unsubscribe from the list entirely, but that’s a different conversation altogether.

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