Google Apps for Business: Replied and Forwarded icons

posted Apr 3, 2014, 8:27 AM by Andrew Chadick   [ updated Apr 17, 2014, 11:30 AM ]

Replied and Forwarded icon indicators for Gmail (Reply Forward)

Many of us are used to using clients like Microsoft Outlook, and the shift to using Chrome and relying on Google Apps for Business to take over and do everything we have come to rely on is quite a leap.  There are items we just look for, and are used to seeing.  One of those is the little icon in Outlook that shows the status of an email, unread, read, replied to, or forwarded.  Although Gmail doesn't use these types of icon indicators, Gmail does use labels.  With a little configuration, you can set it up to have indicators in place to show you how you have handled that incoming email.

Note: One of the reasons why I think Gmail doesn't have such icons, is because Gmail has the Conversation view. Simply viewing the conversation will show you any replies or forwards you performed as well as any additional messages received in that conversation. But, understandably, some people would still like an indicator visible from the Inbox so they don't need to open the conversation to figure it out.

So, to start; go to Settings, the gear on the right, then Settings in the drop down; The choose Labels (second from left) and then toward the bottom, click "Create new label" and create two new labels: Reply(Replied) and Forward(Forwarded). 
To save space, you may want to shorten the names to something like: RPL and FWD. It doesn't matter what you label them, just as long as it has that meaning to you.

When the two labels are created, click Inbox on the left side to exit Settings.

Next Copy/Paste "from:(me) subject:(Re:)"  in to the Search Field at the top of the Email Client (Search Window): (Without the quotes);
from:(me) subject:(Re:)

--Then click the down arrow (carrot) to the right of the search field, right before the Magnifying Glass Icon
--Click "Create filter with this search >"
--Then check the box that says Apply the label, then select the "Replied" label you created
--Click Create Filter

Do the same steps as above for Forwarded, except use this search term;
"from:(me) subject:(Fwd:)"
Apply label "Forwarded" that you created, and then click Create Label
The search term "me" is used so that the filter will work for any custom "from" addresses you may have set (Settings->Accounts->Send Mail As). 
Otherwise you would need to search for each unique "from" address you use. 
But note that from:me will not match a custom from address if "treat as alias" is not selected.

The filter is looking for a message you sent (from you) that contains the standard Gmail tag in the subject for a reply (Re:) or a forward (Fwd:). It then applies the appropriate label. 
With these filters in effect, when you view conversation in the Inbox or any other label, they will have indicators if the conversation includes a reply and/or forward.

Of course since the labels are being applied to your outgoing message (not the original message) you need to be using the conversation view for it to make sense. The original message is not the one getting tagged (as happens with an e-mail client). Thus, you will still need to view the conversation for the exact details of the exchange: to see what message of a larger conversation happened with reply/forward, etc. 

But at least it will be easy to see which conversations have had reply/forward activity in them. And for most cases, that's enough for this method to be useful.  If you have conversation view off, you can at least click sent, and see these same filters applied to the messages and be able to tell how you handled them.




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