Gmail originally came out in 2007, but believe it or not there are still people learning how to use it. I recently created this guide for one of my clients and thought I’d share it here to help others who might be learning Gmail for the first time. Here is a guide on how to use Gmail’s filters, labels, and search functions.
Gmail uses Labels and Filters to help sort email. Filters are like Inbox Rules in Outlook and Labels are like Folders in Outlook. Filters can be used to delete, ignore, or label emails. There are a couple of different ways to setup email filters.
Setting Up Email Filters from within an Email
If you look in the right-hand corner of each email, you’ll see a “More” drop-down and one of the choices is “Filter Messages Like These”. When you click that you’ll see options to create filters. Gmail will guess as to what you’re trying to filter (usually by auto-filling in the email sender or the to:address), but you can change these. At this point you can decide what you want done with the messages and do it for all emails in the past or just the future.
Setting Up Email Filters from within Gmail
If you’re not in an email message (or even if you are), you can click on the ‘cog wheel’ Settings menu in the upper right and click on “Settings”. From there you’ll see links across the top like General, Labels…and one of them is Filters. This is mostly used to edit existing filters, but you can also add new filters by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page.
Setting Up Labels
If you like the idea of color-coding your emails or sorting them in a way that makes sense to you, such as with Adsense emails, you can always label things. This makes it easier for you to find things later because you can always go to the search box and type “label:[label name]”. I’ll cover searching in a bit, but to continue on with Labels, these can be applied to any email by clicking the “Label” button above the email or through a filter. Once a label is setup, it’s color can be changed on the left menu by clicking on the color box.
Using the Search Box
As you would expect from Google, this is one of the best features of Gmail. Here are some example searches to show you how it works. For this example, we’ll suppose there is a label named, “Square”. This search will show you all emails labeled with “Square”:
Fun fact: all emails in your inbox have the label “inbox”. When you archive an email, the “inbox” label gets removed. When you delete an email, the “deleted” label gets applied. All deleted emails are deleted permanently after 30 days unless you manually delete them. This search will show you all emails from firstname.lastname@example.org:
This search will show you all emails you’ve sent to email@example.com:
Answers to Your Specific Question
Q, How do I make a folder that will hold all of my emails from a certain sender?
A. Create a Label for that sender and Filter to assign that Label to that person’s email address. The easiest way to do that is to find an email from that person, use the “More” menu in the upper-right of that email, and click “Filter messages like this”. Make sure the person’s email address is in the From box and click, “Assign a label”. If a label does not already exist, click “New label” and then assign that label. You will then have the opportunity to assign all emails in the past or just the ones going forward.