Google Apps Tips :: Getting Started

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You'll notice that things in Google Apps are a bit different than what you were used to with Zimbra. This page walks you through the top five areas in which Google works differently and the simple changes you'll need to make to the way Google Apps is set up:

  1. Folders and labels
  2. Subfolders and nested labels
  3. Message threads in your inbox
  4. Dealing with spam and trash
  5. Archiving

If you prefer to watch and listen to the instructions, check out our video tutorial.

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Folders and Labels

In Google Apps, you have labels instead of folders. Labels make it much easier to organize things, because one message can have multiple labels - rather like tagging in social networks and photo sharing sites. For example, in Zimbra you might have had a folder for travel and one for reimbursements. If you had an email related to a travel reimbursement, you would have had to make a decision about which folder to file that message in. In Google Apps, you can apply BOTH labels to the message. Read more about labels.

Subfolders and Nested Labels

All of your Zimbra folders have been moved over, and if you had subfolders, you're probably pretty disappointed in how they look in Google Apps. Don't worry - you can fix this in no time. Google Apps has a whole series of optionla add-on features called Mail Labs, or just Labs, and one of those, Nested Labels, is designed specifically to help you do this. Once you're comfortable with the use of labels, you'll want to move on to enabling Nested Labels.

Message Threads in Your Inbox

Unlike Zimbra, which showed different messages with the same subject line in chronological order as they came in, Google Apps groups all such messages together in a "conversation view". This can make it easier to organize and keep track of email threads, as well as present a tidier inbox display, However, if you really don't like it, you can switch back to the more traditional view by following the instructions to disable Conversation View.

Dealing with Spam and Trash

Google Apps does its own spam filtering, so there's no longer any need for the separate Barracuda spam filter. However, Google hides access to this label, along with two others you'll probably want to access fairly frequently, by default:

  • Spam - Anything Google believes is spam is given the "spam" label. Messages labeled "spam" are purged after 30 days, so you should get into the habit of checking this label to make sure you don't accidentally lose a genuine message that's been mislabeled as spam.
  • Trash - Anything you delete gets labeled "trash". You can empty the trash whenever you feel like it, but Google Apps will do this automatically after 30 days.
  • All Mail - Displays all of your communications - inbox, starred items, chat threads, sent items, drafts, and archived mail)

To make these folders visible in your Google Apps interface, follow the instructions for accessing common labels


In Google Apps, things seem to stay in your Inbox even if you've labeled them something else. This is because Google has applied two labels to the message - a generic "inbox" label and the more specific filing label you gave it. To keep things clean, you can archive items from your inbox that you've already labeled something else, simply by clicking on the Archive button at the top of your inbox. If you need to access archived messages in the future, just click the "All Mail" label on the left-hand side of the screen.