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How to Use Gmail Filters to Organize and Manage your Email Accounts

Lori Halley 25 January 2008 5 comments

One of the coolest things about Gmail is its filters.They are a simple way to organize your messages automatically by providing a set of rules. It’s a way to set up your e-mail and have control of information going in or out. Like most email, Gmail applies the rules to the messages you receive and to the sent mail but this way you are able to customize your e-mail.

When set up properly, filters add loads of functionality to your already-powerful Gmail account. Save time and space, rid your inbox of unwanted emails, and turn your Gmail into your virtual assistant. Gmail filters can also be used to organize your emails and filter them to your colleagues or other mail accounts.

Here are some of the many fIlters that Gmail Offers.

  • Categorization filters
  • Search filters
  • Separate your identities
  • Newsletters
  • Blacklists
  • Anti-spam
  • No more spam counters
  • Backup filters

In this article, I will show you how to set up filters to redirect selected mail to other accounts (categorization).

Let's consider this scenario:
You are a part-time administrator or a volunteer with a professional association. You have setup your email accounts for free with Google (on your own domain - ABCgroup.com). On your website you list info@ABCgroup.com as your contact email for all inquiries.

Let's see how you can automatically route event emails to person A and membership questions to person B, and direct all others to person C. 

1. Route event emails to person A 2. Membership questions to person B 3. All others to person C

We need to set up three filters to handle this.

For the first one, we must filter all emails coming to your mailbox about events and forward them to person A 

1. Login to your Gmail account.

2. Go to settings >> Filters Click >> "Create a new filter" (next to the Search the Web button at the top of any Gmail page).


3. At the Create a Filter page, enter your filter criteria in the appropriate field(s). In this case, go to the input box labeled Has the words: and type in 'event' or any other words that may be in the event e-mails like 'event-registration' or the word 'party' if those are the words that you may use when referring to an event.

4. You can also go to the box labeled doesn’t have: and type in the words that you definitely don’t want the e-mails to include for example 'membership'. Each time you add a word click on the Test Search button to see whether your result works.

5. You can also click Test Search to see which messages currently in your account match your filter terms. You can update your criteria and run another test search, or click Next Step.

6. Select one or more actions from the list. These actions will be applied to messages matching your filter criteria in the order in which the actions are listed -- set to Forward matching messages to a specific email address and select Skip the Inbox to archive them.

7. If you'd like to apply this filter to messages already in your account, select the Also apply filter to x conversations below checkbox.

8. Once you’re happy with the filter, click on Create Filter to complete the filter process:

For the second and third filters, the steps are all the same except that you would have to enter the emails of the other people such as PersonB@gmail.com and PersonC@gmail.com into the Forward it to: section and then in the box labeled Has the words: keep adding keywords (words that need to appear in the email to filter them to the correct location like the word 'membership', 'member', etc.) and add words into the  Doesn’t have: (words which maybe in e-mails that you don't want for example 'spam'). And don't forget to click on the Test Search button each time you add a word to see whether your result works.   

And there you have it. Now all emails will be directed to the right person and managing your account will be very easy to do. And you? What kind of use do you make of Filters and Labels in Gmail? Please share in comments.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 25 January 2008 at 2:41 PM


  • battery said:

    Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 3:12 AM

    […] Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this problem. Enter Six Apart. When signed up and tested, I couldn’t leave comments on my own brand new TypePad blog (tdavid.typepad.com). This was around Christmas time two years ago and it took a week or so to find out that the reason my comments were being blocked was because makeyougohmm.com was listed on an old spam service. […]

  • wied said:

    Tuesday, 21 October 2008 at 7:30 PM

    how to display only emails that don't have any filter? i found in yahoo there are custom folders that we can auto-forward filtered emails to them, so we could see non filtered email in inbox. At gmail, inbox displays all emails...

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 24 February 2009 at 4:38 AM

    Many organizations use Gmail to manage their email, because its generous storage space, ability to use

  • rohan said:

    Saturday, 20 June 2009 at 7:53 AM

    Hey any one help me:::::::: I had applied filter to delete mails....Can i retrieve them back.......they werent in the trash........Wat to do ..pls mail me at rohansherry@gmail.com..soln pls..i need them badly

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 21 June 2009 at 9:54 AM

    @wied, just set up a flter to apply a label AND bypass the Inbox. Email to which that filter is applied can be viewed by clicking on the label link but won't be listed in the Inbox. That's basically the same thing as what you describe doing with folders in Yahoo mail - labels can act as the folders if you also bypass the Inbox.

    @rohan, you can retrieve any deleted emails that are still in your Trash folder (Trash holds deleted items for 30 days) but if you permanently delete an email it's permanently gone.

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