Generating regexes and Gmail filters

Online regex generator a useful tool

So now, onto my main thrust: I love Gmail. Yes, I know that there are potential problems because, as a free service, there's no guarantee that your e-mail won't vanish one day and you'll have no recourse and occasionally the service goes unavailable, but I've had those same problems with services I've paid for.

Quite some time ago I decided to drop my e-mail service provider, I'd been using Everyone because the mail service that came with my Web service (hosted by EasyCGI) had no spam filtering at the time.

I dropped Everyone because the company didn't provide support unless I was willing to spend more money, and I also realized I could use Gmail -- which has very good spam filtering -- for free. My kind of deal. Not only would this cure my spam problem for free but I'd also get excellent searching of my e-mail and could access it from anywhere, including from Outlook via IMAP.

Anyway, I've now been happily using Gmail for more than a year and I have set up lots of filters to categorize the e-mail I receive. And when I say "lots" I'm not kidding -- I have hundreds. My problem is I recently realized I have many filters that should be combined. The trouble is doing this through the Gmail filter page would be, to say the least, painful.

Turns out that on the "Labs" tab under Gmail's settings there's a new option that enables the export and import of filters in an XML format (when enabled, the import and export features are located at the bottom of the filters page). This is fantastically useful if you're going to move your filters to a new Gmail account. Now I need to figure out how to efficiently edit the exported filters, which will be the topic of a future column -- suggestions will be welcomed.

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Mark Gibbs

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