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People use all sorts of methods for organizing their inbox. One way is to move emails to specific folders, which in Gmail, are called Labels. So here, we’ll show you how to automatically label and move emails.

Using labels is especially important if you receive tons of messages daily. You can see those labeled emails in your inbox at a glance. But since they also move to the corresponding “folder,” you can view them there as well. You can do all of this by creating a filter in Gmail.

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Use a Filter to Label and Move Emails in Gmail

By using a Gmail filter, you can set up the criteria for the incoming emails and then apply a label to the matching messages. Then, you can select the label’s folder to see all emails with that label.

Note: This process does not remove the emails from your inbox.

Visit Gmail and sign in if necessary. Click the gear icon on the top right to view the Settings. Then, select “See All Settings” in the sidebar that appears.

Go to the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab in the Settings and select “Create a New Filter.”

Create a New Filter link

In the box that appears, you’ll set up the criteria for the emails you want to label. You can enter one or more conditions in the fields such as From, Subject, Has the Words, or Size. Click “Create Filter.”

Filter criteria fields

Next, you’ll create the action to label the emails. Check the box for Apply the Label and choose the label in the drop-down box.

If you want to create a label, pick “New Label,” give the label a name, and optionally nest it within an existing label. This automatically creates a folder for the label at the same time.

Create and name a new label

You can apply other actions if you like, such as Mark as Read or Star It. You can also check the bottom box to Also Apply Filter to Matching Conversations. This applies the filter to any emails in your inbox already. Click “Create Filter.”

Label selection action for a filter

Once the filter is created, all future emails that match the criteria will receive the label. You can see this in your inbox, but also in the label’s folder.

Display the sidebar on the left and expand Mail if necessary. Then, select the label’s folder and you’ll see all emails have moved to this spot as well, giving you quick and easy access to them.

Label folder in the sidebar in Gmail

If you need to edit a filter you create, return to Settings > Filters and Blocked Addresses, click “Edit” next to the filter, and make your changes.

Move or Label Messages Manually in Gmail

If you want to manually move a message to a label’s folder, you can do this as well. This can be handy if you didn’t apply the filter to your inbox when setting it up.

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Select the email in your inbox and then click the Move To icon at the top. Choose the label’s folder and the message will move to it.

This will not apply the label to the email, but simply move it. If you want to apply the label too, select the email, click the Labels icon in the toolbar, and check the box for the label you want.

Organizing your inbox is key to keeping important messages from getting lost in the chaos. So if this is a method you think will work for you, give it a go!

For additional help with Gmail, take a look at our guides for inbox management and labels as well as mail filters and the atar system.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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