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How to Manage Your GMAIL with Labels and Filters

We like receiving emails, but opening your inbox and finding a hundred of unread emails just listed in front of your eyes can be a sore sight . The emails we receive can be organized based on the sender , the topic, the domain name where the email was sent and other flexible rules and criteria. I love playing with rules and filters in Microsoft outlook, unfortunately, i  don't use it for personal emails. Personal emails can be cumbersome to manage since all types of junk can just come right at you. Good thing GMAIL from Google supports the ease of management through filters and labels.  Labels are like tags or folders, they are used to group emails based on common categories. Filters  are rules that makes label management automatic . How cool it is to have an inbox that automatically arrange your email as it comes, either by placing it to a special folder or just sending it directly to the trash. This blog entry will give you the basic idea on how to do just that in GMAIL.

Creating Labels
Let us start by creating labels. As mentioned above, label is a way to organize emails based on some categories.  My personal inbox, for example, has separate labels for emails about shopping deals, emails from the running community and other significant categories. Labels can be found on the left side of your GMAIL screen.
To create a new label, open the mail settings window by clicking on the gear icon on the upper right of the mail interface and select "Settings" from the menu.

This will take you to the Mail Settings screen. Go to the Labels tab. This tab will display all the labels currently active and all the options that can be configured. Go ahead and click on the Create New Label button.

Go ahead and fill in the label names, for this example we will just use the generic "Test" names. Just leave the "Nest label under" empty. Go ahead and create additional labels if you need them.

 Your GMAIL screen should now be showing the new labels you created.

Creating Filters

Filters are rules, email rules that you can create to manage incoming emails. You can create as many filters as you want. Filters can be of varied functions such as automatically marking a particular email as read, sending a particular email to a folder and bypassing the inbox, sending the particular email automatically to the trash folder or automatically forwarding a new email to another recipient. There are a lot of possibilities with filters.

To create a filter, open the Mail Settings screen ( see above for the steps ) and go to the Filters tab.

As you can see, I have a bunch of filters working for me right now. To add a new one, go ahead and select the "Create a new filter" link. This will open up a series of dialog box to configure the filter. As an example, assuming that we need to create a new filter that will automatically place an incoming email from to label Test1 if it has a subject of "test1".

The example above created a filter that will forward any email coming from with a subject of "test1" to the Test1 label.  I have also created another filter to forward any emails from with subject of "test2" to the label Test2.

Once a new email will arrive that meets the above mentioned criterias, GMAIL will automatically apply the filter and send the new emails to their designated folders. Cool!

Organizing the Labels

Creating a label and filter is not the end of our goal to organize our inbox, we need to manage the labels and create a hierarchy when possible.

Configuring the Label Properties.

To configure the labels, we need to open the label management screen by opening the Mail Setting screen and selecting the label tab.

The "Show in Label List" column controls how the label will be displayed. By default it is "SHOW" , this means the label will be shown all the time on the screen. The second option "HIDE" will hide the label from the default view, you need to click on the "MORE" link to access it. The third option "SHOW IF UNREAD" is more dynamic, the label will only show on your list if it has received a new email.

The "SHOW IN MESSAGE LIST" option allows you to control the displaying of the label on the message list, by default it is set to "SHOW". Below is an example showing a label that is displayed on the message list.

Structuring you Label List.

Structuring means organizing your label, this may include  placing several related labels under one common main label. This improves organization. Lets assume that we created 4 labels , TestMain, Test1, Test2 and Test3. To move Test1, Test2 and Test3 inside TestMain, we need to edit the label. This can be done easily by clicking the down arrow icon on the right most part of the label name. This will open the edit menu, go ahead and select the "Edit" option.

On the Edit Label screen, just select the main label ( TestMain ) from the list of parent labels. do this for the other labels you want to include in TestMain.

After this, your labels are now much organized and easy to access.

That concludes the simple tutorial on how to manage your inbox. Unfortunately, the images seems blur at some point. Feel free to comment.


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