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Using Filters in Gmail to Organize Incoming Mail

Did you know you can use filters to automatically label, archive, delete, star, or forward your mail based on keywords, senders, recipients, and more? Start to organize your mail with these simple steps.

To create a new filter:

  1. In Gmail go to Settings (at the top-right under the gear icon) --> Filters and Blocked Addresses --> Create a new filter
  2. Enter your filter criteria in the appropriate field(s). You can enter information in one or several fields to specify what to filter:
    • "From" - emails from a specific email address
      (ex. ", another personal address you have set up to forward, or an E-newsletter you receive)
    • "To" - emails sent to a specific address
      (ex. ", or a listserve you belong to)
    • "Subject" - any emails with keywords in the subject
      (ex. "Open House" or "Seminar")
    • "Has the words" - any emails with these keywords in the body of the email
      (ex. a grant number or the name of a class you are taking)
    • "Doesn't have" - any emails without keywords
  3. Click Create a new filter.
  4. Select one or more actions from the list. These actions will be applied to messages matching your filter criteria in the order in which the actions are listed
    • For example, choose to apply a certain label to your filtered emails so it places them in categories (like folders); or you could choose to Forward matching messages to a specific email address, then Delete the messages; or you could send certain messages directly to the archive so that they don't clutter up your inbox.
  5. If you'd like to apply this filter to messages already in Gmail, select the checkbox "Also apply filter to x matching conversations".
  6. Click Create Filter.


To create a filter from within a message:

  1. Click the drop-down menu (three vertical dots on the upper right).
  2. Select Filter messages like this.
  3. Enter your filter criteria in the appropriate field(s) as described above.


To edit or delete existing filters:

  1. Click Settings --> Filters and Blocked Addresses.
  2. Find the filter you'd like to change and click its edit link, or click delete to remove the filter.
  3. If you're editing the filter, enter the updated criteria for the filter in the appropriate fields, and click Next Step.
  4. Update any actions and click Update Filter.

You can create an unlimited number of filters, but only 20 filters can forward to other addresses. You can maximize your filtered forwarding by combining filters that send to the same address. More information on this topic can also be found here.