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How To: Create Email Filters in Gmail

Inbox overwhelm is real!  On average a person in a corporate job receives 100 emails per day and sends about half that.  To help you manage your inbox we recommend utilising tools such as ‘rules’ or ‘filters’ (depends on the software you’re using, will depend on your terminology.

As a Gmail user, which many of our clients are, we recommend you becoming familiar with filters.  Filters automatically move emails into a specific folders, and as a Gmail user, folders are called labels.

As an example, I have client folders in my email system and any time I receive an email from a client, Gmail automatically moves it into their folder. This allows me to not get distracted by incoming email while working.

Filters allow you to forward, label, archive, delete, star and otherwise distribute your mail automatically.

The easiest way to create filters is to use existing messages in your Gmail account.

To use a particular message to create a filter

  1. Select the message(s) in your message list that you would like to use to create the filter.
  2. Click the More button and then choose the option, Filter messages like these.
  3. Enter your filter criteria in the appropriate field(s). (‘From email address’, ‘to email address’, ‘subject’, ‘has the words’, ‘doesn’t have’, ‘has attachment’, ‘don’t include chats’). When choosing your filter criteria, please note that the most accurate form of filtering is the use of email addresses.
  4. Click Create filter with this search.
  5. Choose the action(s) you want the filter to take.
  6. In order to have incoming messages automatically labelled and removed from your inbox to another folder until you can look at them later at a more convenient time, be sure to select Skip the Inbox (Archive it) and Apply the label: (label) when you create your filter.
  7. To apply the filter to emails already in your inbox, check the box Also apply filter to X matching conversation(s).
  8. Click the Create filter button.

Please note: When you create a filter to forward messages, only new messages will be affected. Any existing messages that the filter applies to will not be forwarded.

To edit or delete existing filters

  1. Click the gear button in the top right of the screen.
  2. Choose Settings.
  3. Click on the Filters tab.
  4. Select the filter you wish to change and click edit, or choose delete to remove the filter entirely.
  5. If you’re editing the filter, enter the revised criteria for the filter in the appropriate fields, and click Edit filter actions.
  6. Update any actions and click the Update filter button.

There is no limit to the number of filters you can create, however only 20 filters can forward to other addresses. Combining filters that forward to the same address will help to maximise your filter forwarding capabilities.

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Written by: Nicole Graham


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Established in 2007, Bauhinia Solutions is a boutique virtual business support agency with a team of dedicated and experienced business specialists, administrators, and virtual assistants.