How to Make Life Easier with Labels/Filters Feature in Gmail

Do you have many circles of contacts? In my case, I do. I have friends and relatives, administrative people in the university, business partners and clients, and students. Do you receive a lot of emails from them? In my case, I do–especially from the last group. Do you want to miss their emails? I don’t. Well, to tell you the truth, sometimes I feel fine if I miss emails from the university administration. But, for God’s sake, I don’t want to miss any emails from my students–they, and their emails, are as important as my career as a student/teacher is. The problem is: they are only 19 out of hundreds of my contacts. What should I do so that I don’t miss their emails? Easy: use the filter feature/labeling of your email provider. In this post, I will only talk about gmail in particular. If you currently use a different provider, I hope this post will give you an inspiration to find out yourself how to set up the filter there.

So, what is this “filter feature” or “labeling” actually?

Basically, filtering/labeling is a mechanism in Gmail that allows you to 1) mark certain emails with a label and 2) put said emails into an inbox-like group. Therefore, if you set it up correctly, you only need to click this new “inbox” (you can choose any name to your liking) and you will see emails from a particular group. In my case, I only need to click “Comp I Fall 2013” to see all incoming emails from the students in the class I’m teaching this semester.

How can we do it? Here is how to set up filtering/labeling in gmail: 

  1. Click “Setting” on the upper right area of you Gmail. It’s the rotary wheel logo right under your personal icon. Click “Settings” in the menu that pops up.
  2. You will be directed to a page with menus listed horizontally at the top, starting from “General” and ending with “Themes.” Click “Filters.”
  3. At the bottom of the next page, you will see “Create a new filter” and “Import filters.” If you want to make a new filter, then click “Create a new filter”
  4. There will be a pop up where you can fill out the specific information about the filter. You can choose to filter the emails by their senders, by the recipients (this is possible because gmail allows you to forward emails from your other providers to gmail; with this filter, you can segregate emails based on which other provider they are forwarded from), and so on. For our purpose–putting together emails from certain circles of contact–just fill out the “from” bar with email addresses of the particular circle you want. In my case, this is where I put the email addresses of dozens of my students. If you put more than one email address, you need to give curly brackets “{” and “}” before the first email and after the last email. Basically, it will be like this “{,}.” This way, emails from any one of them will go through this filter.
  5. Click “Create filter with this search” and you will be given several choices as to what to do with those emails.

That’s it. I think you would agree with me that it is such an easy process, and pretty soon you will also agree with me that this filtering is such a little thing that brings a lot of convenience in your life. Just to show you the end result of this process, I’ve posted here a capture from my email. By the way, if you want to give different colors to your labels/filters, you can click that tiny square box and you will be given options to change certain things related to the labels.

So, I guess that’s all for today. To my students, I think this answers your question whether or not I write about you. Yes, this is the first time I’m writing about you, and it’s nothing but a good thing about you, right? 😀


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Chris says:

I just read a post where you can create a filter by specifying the name of a circle:
“circle:circlename”. I have not tried it yet but it would certainly make it a lot easier than specifying every email address 🙂

wawaney says:

Thanks, Chris. Actually for some reason I already have filters with my circles name. I don’t know whether I made them myself of whether they were there since the first time. But for sure whenever i have an email from one of the people in those circles, it usually goes there. Thanks, anyway for pointing this out.

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