I use extensive filters on Gmail to categorize mail the way I want. I pre-filter some things to look at later, prioritize some lists (like allergy or uptime alerts), and pre-categorize things that I may want to file away after looking at them.

The problem is, I can only change filters on the desktop site. When I’m reading on my phone, I need to remind myself not to archive or delete messages that I want to start filtering.

It occurred to me: I can label those messages “Change Filter.” I could even do it right away – there’s a “Manage labels” option on the Android app!


I can’t add labels in the app, just change the download and notification settings for each.

So, website then…

Except I can’t get at the full Gmail website on my phone. Or my tablet. Google insists on showing a stripped-down mobile site, which has even fewer capabilities than the app.

I can’t fault them for starting with the mobile site. It is helpful to focus on the features that work best on small touchscreens, under-powered processors, and high-latency, low-bandwidth networks, and can be done by someone on the go, rather than someone sitting at a keyboard with a big screen and a mouse.

But if someone wants to use the functionality you’ve left out, and is willing to slog through the desktop site on their phone or tablet, you should at least let them get at it!

In this case I waited until I could log in on a desktop, then added the label. But not everyone with a phone has a desktop or a laptop. And as the balance keeps shifting towards phones as people’s primary internet access device, that’s going to be more and more common.

Google has just launched desktop notifications for Gmail using HTML5 technology. Of course, they’ve had a separate pop-up notifier for quite a while now. How does this one compare?


  • Will run on any operating system.
  • Doesn’t need to be installed on your computer.
  • Doesn’t require a registry hack now that GMail requires SSL on everything.
  • Doesn’t require you to enter your login & password in a separate app.
  • Lets you choose between only chat notifications, only email notifications, or both.
  • If you use Priority Inbox, lets you choose between all new messages or only those PI has marked as Important.


  • Needs Gmail to be open. No biggie, as this is true of pop-up notifications for Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. But since the old notifier was a separate app, it could run on its own.
  • Only works with Chrome so far.