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In my email account, I currently have an Archive folder where I keep messages for eventual reference/documentation. These messages are not actionable — either there is no immediate associated action, or the action has already been completed.

I am debating if I should keep received invoices and receipts in two separate subfolders or if I should keep both types of documents in the same subfolder. On one hand keeping them in separate folders allows for more granularity, while on the other hand I may be overcomplicating things for myself.

Just to be clear: invoices that I've archived have already been paid by myself or another person. I keep them for reference (and possibly tax-season).

What are the advantages/drawbacks to either approaches?


Regarding the use of folders: I'm using simple folders instead of labels/tags because I want to maintain maximum compatibility with vanilla IMAP. Search, as an alternative to labels/tags, is a good option (although comparatively limited), while some clients also allow the creation of "smart folders" (dynamic folders based on search criteria).

I moved away from Gmail for several reasons, one of which is that their IMAP implementation is not standard.

My main concern is the relevance of segregating invoices and receipts. Is the distinction strong enough to warrant separate folders?

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Assuming you're using a reasonably modern email client that allows it, my recommendation is to keep all archived email in a single folder while tagging the messages to help find them when needed. Actually, in Outlook I use an archive folder per year, which lets me get it off the Exchange Server and onto a network file system, which my IT guys love me for. I have years of back email for reference, while my mailbox on the server is quite small.

The advantage to file-by-tagging over file-by-multiple-folders is clearest when you have mail messages that you might want to put in more than one place if you were filing by folder. In the case of invoices and receipts, there isn't so clear a benefit one way or the other. In the case of project email, I might want to file it by release, role of sender, feature it refers to, or any one of a number of different criteria. By tagging, I have one copy of the message, but it appears for each of the tags I've applied. If I were to be filing by folder, I would either have to choose where it goes (and likely not find it sometime in the future) or make multiple copies of the message (taking a lot more of my time).

I recommend one folder and tagging, so that all your mail is referenced the same way, even though there isn't a huge difference one way or the other for invoices and receipts.

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Thank you Dennis. The reason I'm using just folders instead of tags is because I want to have the flexibility of using any standard IMAP client while maintaining maximum compatibility. I'll update my question accordingly. I'm indeed strongly biased towards using a single folder for both invoices and receipts, as you seem to be suggesting in your closing sentences. Keeping the question open for now to encourage more answers. – Daze Jun 4 '14 at 19:48

Have a look at Alto Mail. I am sure that it will suit your needs.

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I'm sorry, but how does this answer my question? I'm not looking for a new email client. It's pretty and everything, but I'm not looking for a different workflow either. – Daze Jun 7 '14 at 15:46
@Daze Oh okay ! It's promo video showed some really great sorting facility so I thought it might help you sort your invoices and all :) – Little Child Jun 7 '14 at 16:06

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