Unintentional Gmail Bankruptcy (or how I learned to quit worrying and hate the Priority Inbox)
Monday, Nov 22, 2010
I use Gmail's Priority Inbox feature and I mostly love it. Nevertheless, in a few ways it feels like a grafted-on feature, and this morning I found an especially heinous example of this. My Priority Inbox main view (the default setup) has three buckets: Important, Starred, and Everything Else. To see more than the most recent 20-40 messages in each bucket you click the 'View All' link associated with that bucket, and that's what I (thought I) did this morning, to go through last weekend's 'Everything Else' mail. After making sure there was nothing important in there I selected all, then clicked the link to select all 23,000 conversations on all pages (I only mass archive a few times a year), and clicked Archive. Fuck. It turns out that while clicking 'View all' Important messages gives you a view of all Important messages, and clicking 'View all' Starred messages gives you a view of all Starred messages, but the corresponding link for 'Everything Else' is called 'View Inbox' and includes everything in my inbox. I didn't receive any emails that Gmail deemed 'Important' over the weekend so the contents appeared identical to if it actually showed me what I expected, a list of all 'Everything Else' messages. So what actually happened when I clicked 'Archive' was it archived everything. My starred messages, my 'Important' messages, all archived away with everything else. Accidental Email Bankruptcy. Aftermath: I searched for the last month's worth of messages in 'All Mail' and moved to Inbox. This includes hundreds of messages that were filtered away from my inbox in the first place, but I can always filter them away again by hand. Not an unrecoverable error, but a pretty messy one nonetheless.
If you like it, please share it.

Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox