For Gmail users, once you get used to the idea of labeling and starring rather than placing your email in folders, it's often hard to go back. Do you notice folders in Facebook or Twitter? How about MySpace? Folders are distinctly Web 1.0 and many of us have found that it's faster and easier to leverage Google search and labeling (including starring) in Gmail than it is to dig through folders in Outlook.
By way of a quick primer for those who aren't Gmail junkies, email in your inbox can be read, labeled, starred, or deleted. Labels like "Work", "Kids", "Jokes", and "Useless crap that my family sends me" can be applied to any message and used to filter results in your inbox. Unlike folders, multiple labels can be applied to a single message, so that the cute knock-knock joke your kid sent you can be labeled both "Kids" and "Jokes". A sort of default label, however, that you don't need to create is the star. With a single click next to an email, you can designated a conversation as Starred. I tend to use this for things about which I have to follow up but that would otherwise get lost in the hundreds of emails I receive a day. Every night, I filter by Starred conversations and give them a quick review.
Google has now extended this Star concept to its web searches. Although it isn't available to all users yet (you must have a Google account and be signed in), the feature is rolling out over the next couple of days. As PCWorld describes it,
Starring a site [in Google search results] moves it to a customized section at the top of the results page. Your stars also sync with Google Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar
All users can, however, access the feature now via their Web History (check in the upper right corner of your Google search page if you are logged in). Honestly, this isn't a bad thing to check every once in a while anyway, along with your profile and dashboard. No matter how much you love Google, it's a pretty good idea to know how much they know about you and just what your digital footprint looks like. Back to the subject at hand, though, entering your web history gives you access to the same starring capabilities. Anything you star gets added to your bookmarks (not those in the browser, but accessible via your Google account in the cloud). As with Gmail, you can add labels to your bookmarks for filtering and searching; they're easily accessible via a link on the lower left of your web history page.