Intensifying the fight against the avalanche of e-mail, Google on Tuesday rolled out a new Gmail service called Priority Inbox which automatically prioritises incoming messages and places the most important ones at the top of the inbox.

In a blog posting, Google said it was easy to filter out most spam but that people’s inboxes were still getting cluttered with mail that isn’t very important, which it called “Bologna”.

“Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules,” said software engineer Doug Aberdeen.

He explained that Google uses a variety of signals to identify important emails, such as those from people you email a lot, and which messages you open and reply to. Users can also fine tune the classification by marking specific conversations as important or not and helping the programme learn their preferences.

While the priority emails are automatically placed at the top of the inbox, Google has also created two other folders. The starred folder appears directly beneath the Priority section and includes all messages that the user marks to be read later. The third section is called Everything Else and includes all messages that aren’t routed directly to spam or to the two other folders.

The new system is one of the biggest updates introduced to Gmail since Google introduced its e-mail service in 2004. Google said that the new feature was made available to initial groups of subscribers on Tuesday and that they would roll out to all Gmail users within the week.