If you find yourself constantly searching for specific emails or feel you may be missing important emails from specific senders, then email filters are a feature that you definitely want to learn how to use. This feature will have the added benefit of helping you to organize and sort your email in more ways than the standard categories. This feature is also quite easy to use and at the same time we can find and categorize all of our past emails from this sender.
Find the email
To begin we need to find an email from the sender we want to filter. It doesn’t matter when the email was sent, just search and pull up any email. We’ll use one of my favorite newsletters, Morning Brew as an example for how to set up your filters.
So I have searched and opened an email from them. The next step is to click on the “Stacked Dots” menu icon and select “Filter messages like these”
Once you have clicked on this, Gmail will automatically create a search for all emails from this sender using their search syntax — from:([email protected]). Gmail will then autofill in the “From” field of the filter creation form.
If you would like to refine the filter Gmail provides a few options on this screen to further refine the selection. Lets quickly go through these options:
From: The from field is automatically filled through the first step. This is the email senders email address. This field can be further refined using the senders actual name. I will show this at the end in the further filtering section
To: If you use Gmail or google workspaces to manage multiple email accounts this can be a useful way to filter emails specifically sent to those email addresses. Also useful for filtering emails that are sent to groups of people. You can separate multiple emails with a comma
Subject: This is the subject of the email. This filter will work on partial words within the subject.
Has the words: This will search and filter any emails that contain the used word anywhere in the email
Doesn’t have: Filter emails with words not in the email.
Size: (Goes well with the Has attachment checkbox) This is a very useful filter, especially if your inbox is running out of storage space. You can filter all emails that have large photos and attachments. And then bulk select to either filter them or delete them.
Once you have the settings for the type of emails you want to filter click on the “Create filter” button. This will bring up the next step which is to decide on what you want to do with the selected emails.
Google gives us quite a few options for how we can handle emails as they come into our inbox. Feel free to add any additional options from this screen that you feel are necessary. For our purposes in this tutorial though we are going to focus on simply adding a label to our selected emails.
Click on the checkmark next to “Apply the label:” and then click on the drop down menu where is says “Choose label…”
If you have created a label in the past you can choose one of those, but because I do not have a label currently for my Morning Brew emails we are going to choose “New label…” and create it.
Fill in the new label. For now we are not going to worry about the “Nest label under:” box for now and click “Create”. This will then be entered into our drop down menu. Next you must decide if you want to have this filter apply to only new emails coming in or if you would like it to apply to all your past emails that matched the search query. If you want all the past emails to be labeled, put a checkmark in the “Also apply filter to matching conversations.”
Our screen should now look like this:
Some other notable choices here that are quite useful:
Never send it to Spam: Very useful if you find a particular senders emails consistently fall into the spam box.
Always mark it as important: The perfect addition to your significant others emails, so they are always marked as a priority in your inbox.
Once you have made all your choices here go ahead and hit “Create filter”
Now in the left hand side of your screen you will see “Labels” just under the main categories.
If you click on this label, you will now see all of your filtered emails!
Some additional settings can be found in the “stacked dots” menu for the label. These settings can edit the functionality of the label as well as change its color and where the label is visible.
And that’s it! Now we have a label where all of our selected emails come in and we can easily find and view them without the distraction of other emails and with the comfort of knowing that we will not miss one of these filtered emails in the chaos of our inbox.
Further Filtering (adding a sublabel)
To extend on this tutorial a slight bit I will show you the advantages of creating a sublabel.
Sometimes, such as in the case of Morning Brew. There is a subset of emails within our already filtered emails. Morning Brew has a number of newsletters that span a variety of topics. They have their Main newsletter with a more broad view and then they have specialized newsletters that delve into a specific topic. As you will see one is called Emerging Tech Brew. The problem here is that all of these newletters are delivered by the same email address. And this is where sub labels can be tricky. You must identify a part of the email that is unique enough to add a label, without catching and filtering the wrong emails.
In my case I found that the only differentiator between the emails is in the “From” field. Where normally you would filter by just an email (like we did at the beginning), you can write in and target the name provided by the sender as well. This was my unique identifier.
You can use any of the other search options we discussed above to create a unique subset of emails to filter. For instance you could create a sublabel for all emails within your main label that also have an attachment so you can quickly find documents or images that people send you. The option are extensive.
For my example thought we’ll go through the same steps as before but this time we’ll add in the name to the search filter!
The “Apply the label” option can be created by using that second field in the pop up window. We use this to specify that this new label will be directly under the previously created label:
Once you have finished you will end up with a nicely structured label category system like below.
You can add as many labels and sub labels as you would like. You can change the settings on the filters and pinpoint the exact emails you would like in order to help you to create a well functioning email system.
And if you are interested in tech, business, finance, crypto, retail, and a whole lot of other topics sign up for the Morning Brew Newsletter (disclosure: if enough people sign up, Morning Brew, might send me some stickers, or sweatpants, or a backpack, or other sweet swag. They’re pretty cool like that. Also if you sign up, you’ll get a special link as well, and maybe they’ll send you those things!)