Google Mail - Controlling Your Inbox with Filters

Filters can be a wonderful way to control your Inbox.  Here is how to set them up.

First, go to the gear icon in the upper-right hand corner of the window when you are in mail -

Select Settings from the menu that pops-up -

In the Settings window, select the tab Filters and Blocked Addresses -

In the Filters and Blocked Addresses screen, click on Create a new filter -

The next window will have lots of options to choose from in setting up your filter.  A reminder that Google's foundation is as a search engine - these items you select will actually perform a search of all your mail items that match the criteria (as few or as many as) you select -
These items can search by:
  1. Who the email is from
  2. Who the email is to
  3. Keyword(s) in the email subject
  4. Keywords within the email (anywhere)
  5. Eliminating results with other keywords
  6. Emails with attachments
  7. Eliminating chat results
  8. Emails in a certain size range
This gives total flexibility to getting exactly what you want.  You can pick as many or as few of the fields to fill in. 

After you set your criteria, click on Create filter with this search - 

The next screen has all the options of what to do with emails that match the criteria you established for the search -
You can use as few or as many of the following:
  1. Skip the Inbox (Archive it) - this will remove all labels from the email (remember - emails that come in automatically get assigned a label of Inbox); searches to find such emails will require more detail to find
  2. Mark as read - this will take the bold marking off the email (all emails that come in also automatically get the bold to signify unread messages)
  3. Star it - this will add star importance to the email if you use this feature
  4. Apple the label ... - This will apply another label to the email, making it searchable by the label later (or by clicking on the "folder" in the left menu - which is actually a smart search)
  5. Forward it - forwarding system to another email
  6. Delete it - puts the email in the trash (it will be permanently gone after 30 days)
  7. Never send it to Spam - ensures that Google's auto spam filter does not put emails that match your criteria into Spam mail
  8. Send canned response ... - Automatically sends your selected canned response if you use this feature
  9. Always mark it as important - marks the emails as important if you use this feature
  10. Never mark it as important - never will mark the emails as important if you use this feature
  11. Categorize as ... - Puts the email in a category if you use this feature
  12. Also apply filter to __ matching conversations - will apply your filter to existing emails as well as any new emails that come in matching your criteria
Once you set what you want the filter to do, click on Create filter -

Your filter will run on any new mail that comes in!

Here are examples of some filters you may consider:

  • To move news-type emails out of your inbox into a folder so you can read them at your leisure, create a filter that has the word "Unsubscribe" (#4 on the filter setup) - then have it both Skip the Inbox (#1 on the filter actions) and Apply the label (#4 on the filter actions).  If you didn't want notification that there were unread in that folder, you could also select Mark as read (#2 in the filter actions)
  • To make sure you never miss your boss's emails, create a filter that helps highlight them by entering their email address (#1 on the filter setup) and Apply a label (#4 on the filter actions) specific for your boss.  You can even change the color of that label so it stands out in your Inbox
Do you have some filter examples that help with your inbox?  Please share them in the comments!

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