Gmail Filters

Imagine that you've just arrived home from a relaxing two-week vacation. You log on to Gmail to see who tried to get in touch with you while you were away, and... yikes! Your inbox is totally flooded with new emails! You'll probably have to go through each of them one-by-one now to see what should be done with them. Wouldn't it have been so much easier if you could have just told Gmail what to do with any new emails that you received? Well, with the "Filters" feature, you can do exactly that!

How to Create a Filter in Gmail

  1. Go to www.gmail.com and log in (if you haven't already). When you get to your main "Inbox" page, click the settings button () in the top-right corner, and select Settings.

  2. Click on Filters across the top menu to see a list of all of your filters. To create a new one, click Create a New Filter at the bottom of this list.

  3. A new box will pop up that lets you pick conditions for your filter. Click the buttons in the screenshot below to learn what each of these conditions does.

     

    From

    Filter your emails based on who sent them to you.

     

    To

    Filter your emails based on who you sent them to.

     

    Subject

    Filter your emails based on certain words in the subject line.

     

    Has the Words

    Filter your emails based on whether they contain certain words anywhere, either in their subject lines or in the text of the messages.

     

    Doesn’t Have

    Filter your emails if they don’t have certain words anywhere in their subject lines or the actual text of their messages.

     

    Has an Attachment

    Clicking this box to put a checkmark here will filter your emails if they have attachments on them.

     

    Size

    Filter your emails based on how much computer memory that they take up. You can select to filter based on whether an email takes up more than or less than a certain amount of memory. You can use this to separate longer emails or ones that have attachments from shorter ones, since emails that are long or have attachments typically use up more memory than short emails.

  4. When you are done adding conditions to your filter, click Create a Filter with this Search. Note that this option will be greyed out and unavailable until you enter information for at least one condition from the ones listed above. Also note that an email has to match ALL of the conditions for which you provided information in order for this filter to catch it.

  5. You will be taken to a window with options on what Gmail should do with any emails that match all of the conditions in this filter. Click the buttons in the screenshot below for more information about each option.

     

    Skip the Inbox (Archive It)

    The emails will be immediately archived and will not appear in your Inbox. You can still find them by searching for them or selecting All Mail in the left-hand menu or by the label that you apply to it with the filter.

    See our Archiving in Gmail tutorial for more information.

     

    Mark as Read

    The emails will show up in your Inbox as if you have already read them.

     

    Star It

    The emails will automatically receive a star marker, which shows that they are all things to which you want to pay special attention.

     

    Apply the Label

    If you have created a custom label, you can automatically apply it to the emails that match the conditions in this filter, in order to organize them more efficiently. This option can even take you to a screen where you can create a new custom label just for this filter.

    See our Gmail Labels tutorial for more information.

     

    Forward It

    The emails will automatically be forwarded to the address that you specify, using the settings that you have selected for this address. If you have not set up at least one address to which you want to be able to auto-forward email, this option will be unavailable until you do set one up (the link beside the option will take you to the place where you can do this).

     

    Delete It

    The emails will automatically be deleted. This can be useful if you keep getting emails from a certain person or on a certain subject that you aren’t interested in, but they don’t get caught by Gmail’s built-in junk email filter for some reason.

     

    Never Mark as Spam

    The emails will never get put in your junk email folder. Useful if you discover that emails from someone important or whom you like have been ending up in there by mistake.

     

    Always Mark as Important

    The emails will automatically receive an “important” marker (which is slightly different from a star marker). Useful for designating emails from people who usually send you critical information, such as a doctor, business partner, or government agency.

     

    Never Mark as Important

    These emails will never receive an “important” marker. Useful for designating emails from friends who usually send you funny or cute things only.

     

    Categorize As

    Automatically apply one of Gmail’s default labels to these emails: “Personal”, “Social”, “Promotions”, “Updates”, and “Forums”.

     

    Apply Filter to Matching Conversations

    If you have already sent or received emails that match the conditions in your filter, you can click this box to tell Gmail to do everything that you’re telling your filter to do to those emails, as well.

  6. When you have specified everything that you want Gmail to do with the emails that match all of the conditions in the filter, click Create Filter to put it all into place.

How to Edit a Filter in Gmail

Is a filter that you created not catching the right kinds of emails, or not doing what you want to be done with them? Don't sweat it; you can easily change a filter's settings so that it finds what you really want it to find and does what you really need it to do.

  1. Click the settings button () in the top-right corner and select Settings.

  2. Click Filters in the menu across the top to access your list of filters. Each filter listed will tell you two things: the conditions that it's looking for in emails, and what it does to emails that match all of those conditions. Click Edit on the far right beside a filter to change its conditions or actions.

  3. A new window will pop up that lists the conditions for your filter. Change what you want about the emails you want the filter applied to, and once you're satisfied, click Continue.

  4. The next window will again list what your filter can do (and is currently doing) to emails that match all of its conditions. Make any changes that you want, and then click Update Filter at the bottom of the window to finish editing your filter.

How to Remove a Filter in Gmail

Has it gotten to the point where a particular filter is more of a hassle than a help? No problem! You can quickly and easily get rid of any filters that you don't need any more by following these simple steps.

  1. Click the settings button () in the top-right corner and select Settings.

  2. Click Filters in the menu across the top to access your list of filters. Click Delete on the far right beside any single filter to remove it.

  3. You can also delete multiple filters at once by clicking on the check boxes beside each of them, and then clicking the Delete button at the bottom of the screen. You can even delete all of your current filters by clicking All beside "Select" and then clicking the Delete button at the bottom of the screen.

And that's pretty much everything you need to know about using filters in Gmail!

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