Can vm folders be like labels of gmail?

Asked by BVP on 2010-08-11

I am wondering whether vm's folders can be like labels of gmail. What I mean here is the following. Suppose I have an email that I want to save in two different folders because its contents is related to two such topics. In the case of vm, this email message is saved in two different folders occupying two different disk spaces. Gmail has a concept of labels, and one can associate two different labels to a single email message without duplicating the contents. In other words, that mechanism is quite efficient in terms of disk spaces. I am wondering whether the similar thing we can do with vm.

Thanks for your help!

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Uday Reddy
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Arik (akwm) said : #1

The short answer: yes!
Longer: VM also has labels. These can be set using `vm-add-message-labels' which is tied to key sequence "l a" (lower L), and can be shown in the summary line using the format string "%L" in `vm-summary-format'. one way would be to have an inbox and an archive, similar to gmail, then setup your `vm-virtual-folder-alist' to contain the selections for these labels applied to "archive" AND "inbox" e.g.

(setq vm-virtual-folder-alist
       (("archive" "inbox")
        (label "usefulllabel")))))

and when you desire messages of a certain label do a "V V <label> ENTER". In this way, you have the limited sample of new-ish messages remaining in your inbox (a little bit different here since gmail's inbox is simply a label), and a "folder" made of messages with "label" including your inbox. Of course, multiple labels are supported in VM.

This may be a little rough when the archive gets very large, but recently there was a change in the development version of VM giving large folders a performance boost so perhaps it not a big issue. Further, on the performance front, one can make separate archive folders for subjects that do not intersect, e.g. the "cats" folder and "dogs" folder where a tag of "German Shepherd" is also tagged with "Large dogs" but has no cat related properties (aside from being animals).

I hope that answered your question satisfactorily.


Best Uday Reddy (reddyuday) said : #2

Arik is technically right in that VM provides labels and virtual
folders, which can be used in the gmail-style. However, VM wasn't
designed with the idea that labels would be used as folders. So, you
may find that there are rough edges and needed features to make it
work smoothly.

Secondly, VM does run into problems when folders get large. The cache
behavior will worsen. The garbage collection and auto-save pauses will
get longer. So, if you are going to put all your archived mail into
one physical folder, these issues will eventually arise. It is
possible, of course, to use multiple physical folders for the
archive. Arik's solution is open to that possibility.

If you use VM as a front end to gmail, or any other IMAP server for
that matter, then you can use the headers-only mode available in
version 8.1.92a and cut down the size of in-memory VM folders. (The
server will store the actual folders and VM will only store the
headers.) If that is what you are trying to do, please go right
ahead. But, if you are using label-based folders for local storage,
then you need some careful thought.

BVP (bvp) said : #3

Thanks Uday Reddy, that solved my question.