Apple Mail & Gmail: how to "pin" messages in a folder?

So here’s the problem: using Mail on a Mac and an iPhone, work mail is hosted on Gmail, hundreds of folders with hundreds of emails, but some of those emails are important and I’d want to be able to grab them quickly for reference.

So essentially I’d like to be able to pin an email within its folder to the top (otherwise everything is date sorted) like we can do in Notes. And obviously that pinning would need to be supported server side so iPhone Mail highlights those same messages once they’ve been “pinned” on the Mac and vice-versa.

Now SMTP doesn’t support Notes style pinning – so what can you do? On the Mac there’s flags, but that doesn’t really highlight the message for me within its folder. And there would be dozens of these flagged messages, so just having a high-level collection of flagged or starred emails does no good. The message would need to be highlighted within its folder because those are topical (projects) and that’s where I’ll be looking for them. Now, Mac Mail also supports color and that essentially highlights the email which does the trick, but it’s still not bumped to the top of the list like pinning (I could perhaps live with that), but worse: it doesn’t propagate to the iPhone because it’s client side only and that makes this useless too.

So, is there any smart way to highlight these messages within the folder structure (or under a label, to use Gmail parlance) that exists server side so it propagates across various Macs and iOS devices?

I will add that one idea I considered was a folder within the project folder. That subfolder would hold the 2-3 really important emails within that project. The advantage that has is it propagates to all clients since it’s server side. But it’s a clumsy solution and worse, the important email in the subfolder then only lives there. If you’re scrolling in the main project folder it will appear to be missing from that list which is less than ideal. I guess in principle this is only a problem with since with strict use of Gmail and its labels this wouldn’t be an issue (one email can have multiple labels). But since I want to use Mail which forces its folder structure, this won’t work regardless of Gmail support.

Mail allows quite a bit of freedom in folder structure. So, in your case, you can create a folder in mail for your “special” messages which are tagged in gmail. In the gmail smtp mapping settings, map that label to the Mail folder you have chosen.

As in any changes in gmail to mail interface, make certain to have appropriate backups before changing anything. Note also that certain gmail label mappings can result in messages appearing in multiple Mail folders. This can be confusing to some users.

Flags are available in more than one color. You could dedicate one color to your “pinned” messages, and sort by Flags.