Use Gmail Filters and Evernote for Better Inbox Management and Offline Reading

If you're like me you likely have several email subscriptions you signed up for that you just never get the chance to read. Deals from your favorite furniture retailer and story digests from your favorite DIY blog — generally these emails just stack up in your inbox alongside things you need to respond to. If you're a fan of Evernote, and Gmail, set up some simple filters to send your favorite e-blasts right to Evernote, and keep your inbox clear while keeping a copy for reading offline on all of your devices.

If you weren't already aware of Evernote's killer email notes feature, let me bring you up to speed; when you sign up for an account with Evernote, you're assigned an email account which receives messages and saves them as notes. I use this account all the time, especially when I'm browsing with Safari on the iPad, to quickly take notes of sites I've visited without having to copy and paste a link. If you're using the Mac desktop client, to find your Evernote email you can simply click Account, which will supply you with the address and even give you an option to add it to your address book.

Once you have that address it's as simple as sending emails to it, and those messages will show up synced alongside your other clipped or entered notes. For some more advanced applications, we can turn to Gmail and its powerful filtering system. If you've never used Gmail filters let me run you through the process of setting up a filter, which will forward one of my favorite email digests and newsletters right to Evernote.

Setting Up Forwarding

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First off you need to setup your Gmail account to be able to forward to Evernote. Click on the little gear (pictured above) in the top right corner of your Gmail account and click settings from the pop up menu. Across the top you have several tabs for the various settings of your email account. Click on the tab Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Here you'll find the option to add a forwarding email. Click add a forwarding address, and enter your Evernote email address. This will send an email confirmation to your Evernote account.

Check your Evernote account and you should have received a confirmation email. Copy the confirmation number back to Gmail to verify the forwarding, and just set the forwarding as disabled (since we only want to forward certain emails to Evernote, not all of them).

Creating Filters To Send To Evernote

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Once your Evernote account is verified you can start setting up filters. Select an email from your inbox that you would like to see forwarded to Evernote, and click the More button in the bar above. This will present a pop up menu with an option to Filter messages like these. You can set up the filter based on the sender, or the subject line, or words in the body of the email. If you know you're only going to be getting emails you want filtered from a certain address, then a From filter should work just fine.

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Click through on Create filter with this search, and then select Forward it to your Evernote email address. You can also set it up to Skip the inbox and archive so you still keep a copy in Gmail without having to see the email in your inbox (consider adding a label as well for easy retrieval later).

Once your filter is created, from that point onward the email digest or newsletter in question will show up when you sync Evernote. Of course you can use the same setup for lots of other use cases. In many ways, Evernote is a more enjoyable experience than email for reading and organizing, and so potentially any email that doesn't require you to reply can be filtered to Evernote.

In my case, I've set up a filter for any email I've sent myself to be automatically filtered to Evernote. It's possible you find yourself emailing your personal account with reminders of things you want to check out, but then you end up prioritizing emails you need to answer. Since I spend a lot of time in Evernote, I'll often review old notes and organize my notebooks and tags, so it's a lot easier to keep track of inspiration and ideas I've eagerly sent myself for reading or review later on.

For more information on using Evernote's email notes feature, check out the Evernote Techblog.

(Images: Sean Rioux)