Making the Most of gmail’s Priority Inbox

Recently I’ve been playing around with the filters and priority inbox in gmail to help keep myself organised.

I’m one of those people who struggles to remember the millions of small tasks, ideas and ‘to dos’ that occur throughout a day. I’ve tried many ways of managing various ‘to do’ lists such as ‘tasks’ in gmail, ‘reminders’ on my iPhone and iPad, and even setting up a checklist in Numbers on my iPad. Oh, and then there’s the sticky notes upon sticky notes on my desk. Unfortunately the problem is I never remember to check my ‘to do’ list.

For work, I always have my inbox open and so I started to think about how I could use this to remember to do things, without cluttering up my regular inbox. This is where the use of Priority Inbox combined with a filter work well in gmail.

setting up your filter in gmail

Setting up a filter in gmail

Firstly, I set up a filter to filter emails from myself and with the subject ‘to do’. To do this, click on the small down arrow in the search box at the top of the screen, fill in the relevant details, then select ‘Create filter with this search’.

Next, I need to tell the filter what to do with these emails. I want it to apply a label to the emails, so I have set up a label called To Do List.

The second step of this process is to set up your Priority Inbox so that you have a section that displays only emails with theTo Do tag attached to them. This keeps them separated from the rest of the mail, making it easier to see your To Dos and your other emails. To do this, click on the cog wheel in the top right corner, then Mail Settings. Then click on the Inbox tab. If you don’t have your priority inbox already turned on, you do this in the first section. In the second section you can use the Options links to choose what to display in each part of your Priority Inbox.

Priority Inbox setup

Priority Inbox setup

Now, whenever I need to remind myself to do something, I can send myself an email with To Do in the subject and it will automatically appear at the top of my Inbox, with all of my other mail displaying below.

I have also used this same process to filter out readings, blog posts, articles, etc that I want to follow up on. With these however, I need to apply the label (Readings) manually rather than using the filter.

Thanks to filters and Priority Inbox I am able to stay (a little) more organised all within one system.

Using your iPad in the classroom

This week, I’d like to focus my entry on some great apps that you can use on your iPad to enhance the teaching and learning within your classroom. These apps are more so for the teachers out there whose schools don’t have class sets of iPads for their students’ use, but who do have their own iPad that they’re happy to use in the classroom. This list could go on for a long time, so I will keep it to 3 built in apps and features this week and add to the list as I go.

Built-in Features and Apps

multi-language keyboard input on ipad

International Keyboards

  • With over 50 languages and dialects to choose from, you’re likely there is a native language keyboard input for that new ESL learner who doesn’t have word of English in their vocabulary yet.
  • Go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboards
  • When the keyboard slides up in any app, press the globe icon, usually in the bottom row, until you find the keyboard input that you need.
  • Great when used with Google Translate or to promote writing in mother tongue. Also great for English speakers who are learning an additional language.


  • What a powerful tool for the basics of map reading skills – particularly the map reading of the 21st century. Gone are the days of grid co-ordinates, page numbers and index searches. Build critical thinking skills in your students by exploring alternative routes to those given in ‘directions’, use street view to follow verbal directions from students or to explore a venue for an upcoming field trip.


  • My favourite elements of Books are when using epub books (as opposed to pdf books). With epub books (which you can create using Pages on your Mac computer/laptop) you can embed video, audio and photography into what was once a fixed page.
  • Highlight a word or phrase to ‘look it up’ in the dictionary or by searching Google or Wikipedia for more information. Or, highlight that important line. Even take a note that can be viewed later.