How To Use Gmail’s Labels To Keep Your Inbox Neat And Tidy

Labels are Gmail’s secret weapon that let you organise your inbox on your own terms. Once they’re set up, they do most of your message processing automatically and make it easier to skim through your inbox. If you’re not using labels in Gmail yet — or not using them with any kind of method — here are 6 ways you can start organising your inbox immediately.

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1) Apply labels automatically

Image: Screenshot

Image: Screenshot
Filters and Blocked AddressesCreate a new filter

Obviously your options are wide open here, so think about the types of messages you get and how you’d like them organised. Messages from a certain domain or with certain keywords can get labels, as well as emails with attachments. You can also apply labels to messages or groups of messages by dragging them in from the left-hand panel.


2) Move messages to a label, don’t archive

Image: Screenshot

Image: Screenshot

Why would you label unimportant emails? It’s often easier and quicker to mark messages you definitely don’t need for the future rather than agonizing over important-ish emails one by one. Every now and again you can run a search for old messages matching this label (e.g. “label:notneeded before:01/01/2016”) and delete them without worrying about it.


3) Choose which emails appear on your phone

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Image: Screenshot

From the Gmail for Android app, tap Settings on the main app menu, and turn on notifications if they aren’t already. Next, tap Manage labels and select the label you want to work with. You’ll need to sync the label first of all, then apply a notification to it. You can even have Gmail play different sounds depending on the labels on your incoming emails.


4) Use sub-labels for more control

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Image: Screenshot
Create new label

Sub-labels appear when you search for or select them specifically, and when you search for or select the labels they’re nested under, so you can use them in all kinds of ways: a broad label for work, for example, and sub-labels for each project, or a main label for family messages and then sub-labels for individual people or groups of relatives. This works particularly well for categorising travel emails and receipts.


5) Search for Gmail’s hidden labels

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Image: Screenshot

So you can bring up all the emails you’ve yet to deal with by searching for “label:unread” (or “is:unread”), or see everything from your social networks with “label:social”. What’s more, you can bookmark these searches in your browser and you can call them up with a click, or combine them with any of your own labels by searching for two labels at once.


6) Apply labels as you send emails

Image: Screenshot

Image: Screenshot
Label

Remember you can search Gmail by message recipient, so you don’t need a label for every different person you contact, but you could apply a couple of sent email labels for messages you need to follow up on quickly and messages that are longer term, say. A quick label search would then reveal the urgent emails that haven’t yet had responses.