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How to Get Notifications For Only the Emails You Care About With Gmail on Android

android-gmail-selective-notifications

Notifications are a distraction, especially for email. Email is supposed to be asynchronous — most people don’t need their phone to ping them for every email that arrives. However, sometimes you want instant notifications for important new emails.

You don’t have to enable all notifications or compulsively check your phone when you’re waiting for an important email — just set up the appropriate filters, labels, and notification settings to tell Gmail what you care about.

Create a Filter and Label

First, you’ll need to open the desktop version of Gmail on your computer. Android’s Gmail app doesn’t provide a way to create new filters, so we’ll have to do this part on a PC.

To begin creating a label, open an email you want to create a filter based on. Click the arrow icon and select Filter messages like this.

filter-messages-like-this-gmail

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Configure your filter to capture the emails you care about — you may want to receive notifications for all messages from a specific sender or receive notifications when an email with certain words in its subject line arrives. You can also create a filter based on both — consult our guide to creating Gmail filters for more advanced tricks.

Test your filter and you’ll see which existing email messages it would apply to.

gmail-create-filter

When you’re happy with your filter, click Create filter with this search to create it.

Tell Gmail to apply a new label to every incoming message that matches your filter — click the Apply the label checkbox, click the Choose label box, click the New option, and create a new label.

gmail-apply-label-to-filter[4]

Click the Create filter option when you’re done. New email messages matching your filter will automatically be categorized in the label you chose.

Configure Gmail Notifications On Android

Next, you’ll need to open the Gmail app on your Android phone or tablet, tap the menu button, and tap Settings.

Select the Gmail account you created the filter for. If you only have a single Gmail account configured, you’ll only see one option on the Settings screen.

android-gmail-settings-select-account

Ensure the Notifications check box is enabled or you won’t get any notifications at all.

android-gmail-account-settings

Scroll down on the settings page and tap Manage labels under Data usage.

android-gmail-manage-labels

First, tap Inbox in the list of labels.

android-gmail-labels

Uncheck the Label notifications checkbox on the Inbox screen. This disables the default notifications that appear when new emails arrive in your Gmail inbox.

gmail-disable-inbox-label-notifications

Next, tap the back button, scroll down to the label you created earlier, and tap it.

manage-a-label-on-android

Tap the Sync messages option and select Sync: Last 30 days. You have to sync a label to your device before you can get notifications for it.

enable-sync-for-gmail-label

You can now check the Label notifications checkbox and you’ll receive Android notifications each time a new email arrives that matches your filter. You can choose a custom sound and enable vibrate and select whether you want to receive a notification every time a new message arrives.

enable-label-notifications

If you tap the back button, you’ll see a “Sound on” indicator under your label, confirming that it will notify you. You can scroll through all your labels to see which ones you will receive notifications for.

gmail-label-notifications


This method can also be used with any other email notification program that can view Gmail labels — just tell the program to only alert you when a new email arrives in your label of choice.

If you like inbox notifications for all new emails but wish you wouldn’t receive notifications for certain unimportant emails, you could also create filter that tells such emails to “Skip the inbox” when they arrive. If you also categorize them under a label, you can review them at a later time by selecting that label. They’ll be marked unread, but you won’t receive the standard notification when they arrive because they won’t appear in your inbox.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 09/2/13

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