Saturday, August 29, 2015

Filters in Gmail

Ever wish you could have an email get automatically marked as unread in your inbox?  Maybe you would like an email to get labeled a certain way automatically instead of having to label it yourself?  Want a particular email to go straight to your deleted items, because no matter how many times you hit "unsubscribe" they just keep coming?  Well, you can, and it's easier than you think!

You can create filters in Gmail with just a few clicks.  To start out, the easiest thing to do is to select an email in your inbox, or actually open an email, either way - you will see the "More" option appear on the bar across the top of your inbox.  Click on "More" and choose "Filter messages like these".  It is good to choose an email that you'd actually like to filter, because it will autofill the senders email address, but it doesn't matter which email you use to get to the filter, because you can change all of the information anyway.

Once you click the "Filter messages like these" option, you will get a window that pops up where you can enter in all the information about what you'd like the filter to do.  The first set of options is for how to identify the emails you'd like to be filtered.

As I said, it will autofill the sender's email address, but you can change that to be whatever you'd like it to be, or even leave it blank.  You can have it filter by who an email is from, who it is to, what the subject is, what words are contained in the email, whether it has an attachment or not, what size the email is, etc.  Once you have entered in at least one of those identifiers, you can click the blue "Create filter with this search" link at the bottom right.  This will take you to the next set of options asking you what you'd like Gmail to do with the emails that fit the criteria you just set.  

You can have Gmail do all of the things you see listed.  One way that I use filters is to apply labels to an email.  To read about what labels are and how to create and use them, read my Labels in Gmail post.  If I want the email to be labeled and stay in my inbox, then that is the only option I choose.  If I want the email to be labeled and not be in my inbox, I can choose the option to apply a label, and also choose the option to "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)".  This will put the email in my "all mail" section but not in my inbox.  I can still access the email by searching for it, or by clicking on the label I asked Gmail to give it before it was archived.  I do this with newsletters so that they don't clutter up my inbox, but I can easily go to that label and read them whenever I have time.  

There are many reasons why you might create filters, as you can see by the list.  Once you have let Gmail know what you'd like it to do with the emails you identified, you can click the blue "Create filter" button.  You can choose the check box to apply it to the emails already in your inbox if you so desire.  

To edit or delete a filter after you have created it, or to see a list of all the filters you have created, click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of your inbox and choose "Settings".

Then find and click on the "Filters" tab across the top of the settings window.

I've blanked out my filter details to protect my privacy, but you'll see here that you can click on "edit" or "delete" on the right.  You can also click on "Create a new filter" at the bottom of your list.  There is currently no limit to how many filters you can create.  (You can only have 20 filters at a time that forward emails to another address.)

As you can see, it is pretty simple to create filters.  You can use them to save time and help organize email flow.  I have about 15 filters in use for my school account right now.  

I hope you found this helpful.  Happy filtering!

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