Monday, December 22, 2014

Easy Way to Filter in Gmail

Everyone wants your email address these days.  You sign up for this, for that, and for the other thing and the next thing you know, each morning greets you with 15 unread emails you don't care to read.  Every once in a while you actually want one, so you don't want to tell Gmail to delete them all when they arrive, but you don't really want to deal with them on a daily or weekly basis either.  Gmail has a good filtering system, and you can create filters and have Gmail do whatever you like with them.  This works great, but some companies have different variations of the email address they are sending from, and some messages may make it through without getting caught by the filter.  I have a solution that will help the filters in Gmail become more effective for you.

You can add a + and then whatever word you want to your email address, and it will still come to you.  You can do this with any Google Apps account.  For instance, my email is  If I am signing up at a retail store, or online at someplace like Pinterest for example, when I sign up on their form, I will list my email address as  The emails will still come to me, but I can tell Gmail to take any message sent to, which should be ALL the emails they ever send me, and mark them all as read, or archive them, whatever I wish to do with them.  No matter what words are in the messages, no matter which email address they come from, all the messages from Pinterest will get caught by the filter.  Neat, huh?  

To set up your filters, you will need to select an email.  It doesn't have to be one from the person or organization you wish to filter, but it's ok if it is.  Whether you simply select the email by clicking the check box to the left of the sender in your inbox, or you actually open the email, your instructions will be the same.  Once you do one of those two things, click on the "More" button at the top of the screen and click on "Filter messages like these".  (If you click on the "More" button before you either select the email or open it, you will not have the option you need.)  

Once you click "Filter Messages like these", you will get a box with options for your filter.  The "From" box will be autofilled with whoever the sender of the email is that you selected.  It will also say "from:" and list the sender at the very top of the option box.  It doesn't matter who it is, because you need to delete everything in the from box anyway.  We are going to set up the filter to look at who the email is sent to, not who it is from.  

Let's say I signed up at Pinterest with the email address  (Oh how I wish I'd known about this feature long ago!  You can bet I'll be updating some email addresses!)  I want everything sent to that email address to be marked as read and archived.  That way, I can search for emails from Pinterest and look at them when I so choose and they won't clutter up my inbox.  To do this, I want to delete anything that is in the "From" box and type whatever email I signed up with into the "To" box.  Then click "Create filter with this search" at the bottom right corner of the box.  

You'll notice that the very top of the option box will update and now show that you are making a filter using "to" the email address you listed, instead of "from" the address in the email you selected to start the process.  Here is where you can choose what you want Gmail to do with the emails that come in.  I like to "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" and "Mark as read", but you can do whatever you like.  If you look at the green arrow below, you can also add a label to the message.  I'll cover labels in a future blog post.  If you already use labels, this is where you would add a label to the incoming message if you wanted to.  Once you have selected the options you want, click on the blue "Create filter" button at the bottom left.  If you already have emails from this specific organization that were sent to the email address you are trying to filter, you'll want to make sure you check the box next to "Create" that says "Also apply filter to matching conversations".  That way the filter will catch these emails as well.

Once you click "Create filter", you are all done!  Your filter is created and now any new emails that are sent to that specific email address will do whatever you selected in your filter.  

If you need to go back and edit your filter in the future, click on the gear box in the upper right hand corner of your inbox and click "Settings".  

Across the top, select "Filters".  

You will then see any filters you have created and you can edit or delete them as you please.  

That's it!  Simple, but very cool!  I saw my husband do this at Ikea the other day and could not believe I didn't know about it sooner.  I think it's pretty handy!

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog.  I hope you found this little tip helpful!  Stop by again soon for some more handy tech tips!

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