One of the most useful features of Microsoft Outlook was the ability to automatically route emails from your inbox into individual folders based on a set of parameters. This was especially useful to me when sifting out a manager’s request from the sea of emails from clients. As many people and organizations transition from off the self (OTS) products to cloud base solutions such as Gmail, some may find it difficult to apply similar features.
The Difference Between Outlook Folders & Gmail Labels
Before we start organizing our emails, it is important to understand the subtle difference between Folders in Outlook and Labels in GMail.
In Outlook, folders act similar to the Windows Desktop environment. They are a container that allows for the storage of emails, files and other attachments. Other than the .PST file, the content within the folder only resides in that folder. The user has the ability to drag and drop emails from one location in the inbox to another or use automation through Rules.
In lieu of Folders, Google assigns Labels to each email. By default when a Label is assigned to an email, the contents of the email remains in the Inbox. Unlike Outlook, the user cannot drag and drop emails from the inbox into the labels. However, through automation, it is possible to remove emails from the Inbox and assign them to Labels with the use of Filters.
Creating Filters in Gmail
If you are familiar with Outlook’s Rules, then you will be no stranger to Filters. Filters allow users to set parameters and allow automation. In the example below, we will be filtering out all emails from the twitter domain (i.e. @twitter.com) and assigning them a label called, Twitter.
- In The Search Bar at the top, click Show Search Options
- In the From section, type @twitter.com (or any domain you wish to use)
- Please note, that if you use just twitter in the “Has the words” section, it will filter all emails that have twitter listed in them including unrelated emails with twitter social handles
- Be sure that Search section shows All Mail then click on, Create Filter
The next screen will have a list of filter options.
|Skip The Inbox (Archive IT)||Moves Emails from Inbox to Archive Folder; does not delete emails|
|Mark As Read||Marks Emails as Read|
|Star It||Applies a star to emails with designated parameters|
|Apply the Label:||Applies existing or new labels to emails with designated parameters|
|Forward It||Forwards Email to designated address|
|Delete It||Deletes Email|
|Never Send it to Spam||Designates all emails with parameters as not spam|
|Always Mark It As Important||Designates all emails fitting parameter as important; Similar to Star option|
|Never Mark It As Important||Designatesal emails with parameter as not important|
|Categorize as:||Assigns emails to Google preset parameters|
|Also Apply Filter to Matching Conversations||Applies all actions elected above to existing emails; Similar to Outlook feature “Run Now”|
Select The Following Options:
- Skip the Inbox (Archive It)
- Apply the label: Choose label
- Using the drop down box, select New Label…
- Type a Label Name (i.e. Twitter), then click Create
- Also apply filter to matching conversations
- This option is important as it will apply the filter to existing emails. With this unchecked, it will only apply to future emails.
- Click Create Filter
If you have a large inbox, it may take a few seconds for it to refresh. All emails in your existing inbox will disappear and be tagged with the label you elected. On the left hand side, you can click on your Label and all the emails will now be available with a count of unread emails, similar to Outlook.
Changing the Label Color in Gmail
If you want to change the color of the Labels to make it more eye-popping, hover your mouse over the Label of choice (i.e. Twitter) and you should see three dots to the right.
- Select the ellipsis (three vertical dots) next to the Label
- Under Label color, select the color of choice
How to Amend or Delete Existing Filters in Gmail
Should you make a mistake in your filter setup or want to delete the filter, Google makes it easy to implement changes.
- Click on the settings gear on the upper right portion of Gmail
- Select See All Settings and then go to Filters and Blocked Addresses tab
- All filters created will be present here
- Under, This following filters are applied to all incoming mail, choose edit to make changes to your existing filter or delete to remove the filter completely.
Filters and Labels in Gmail are an excellent way to keep your inbox free from clutter. For more helpful tips or to contribute to the community, be sure to join the YouTube community.