43 folders for Gmail

2 minute read

In a previous post I explained how I set up a 43 folders type of system using the emacs mail program mh-e and a bunch of UNIX/Linux shell scripts and crontab entries to be able to file emails away that you don’t want to deal with at the moment, but instead you want them to appear in your mailbox at some time in the future.

In the intervening years, I have moved across to Gmail for all of my mail duties. To get the 43 folder functionality, I used to use email snoozing services like Nudgemail. However, many of these are bait and switch services, where the service is offered free for a while and then they start charging. There has been a need for a while for Gmail to offer some sort of mail snoozing capability which allows you to schedule mails to return to your inbox, and in July 2011, the Gmail Blog announced something close.  However, this script used a different principle, based on snoozing a mail for X days.

Facundo Bromberg has now come to the rescue, with a script which sets up folders 01-31, and months Jan-Dec, and which is easy to setup and use. You can read the instructions and download the script here

Processing your mail should be fast, so I set the BASE_LABEL to Z:

var BASE_LABEL = "Z"

When you run the ‘setup’ function (see Facundo’s instructions), it sets up a new set of labels in your Gmail account Z/01, Z/02 … Z/31, Z/JAN … Z/DEC. To use the system in practice, open up an email you want to return to your inbox on, say, the 27th of the next month, and (assuming you have key shortcuts turned on in Gmail) type:

vZ/27 <ENTER>


  • “v” = shortcut key for ‘move from inbox to another label’
  • “Z/27” = this is the label I want the email to sit in until it comes back into my inbox.
  • <ENTER> = hit the Enter/Return key.

Basically I want the email out of sight until the 27th,  when the triggers (which Facundo explains how to set up in the download link)  will move it back into your mailbox on the 27th (either in the current month, or, if the current date is >27th, then at the end of the next month).

I have been using these scripts for around a week now, and they are working really well.

In my opinion, the only sensible way of dealing with a high volume of email in a way where you can file emails away and KNOW they will pop back at the appropriate time is using something like this. Many thanks to Facundo for turning the useful Gmail snooze script into an excellent 43 folders/GTD script.

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