How to use Filters

What are Filters?

Using Filters allows you to efficiently organize incoming mail. The filter option automatically labels, archives, deletes, stars, and forwards your mail. The filter option can also be extremely helpful for those looking to minimize spam mail.  Through using a combination of keywords, senders, and recipients, users are able to predetermine where mail will be placed before it arrives in their Inbox. For instance, emails sent from a certain professor might be filtered to always have the label “School”. Through using filters, emails from that professor will always be pre-labeled, and as such, stored in the “School” label. 

To access the Filter menu, select a message in your Inbox or other Labels then click the More Actions tab. Once you select More Actions you will see a drop down menu. In the drop down menu, select Filter Messages Like These. After selecting the Filter Messages Like These option, you will be taken to the Create A Filter menu.


As you can see, the Create A Filter menu gives you several criteria in which to sort incoming mail for filtering:

  • From: Selects all mail from a particular source. For example, the email address of a professor.
  • To: Selects all mail sent to a particular recipient.
  • Subject: Selects all mail with a particular Subject line.
  • Has the Words: Selects all messages which contain particular words. For instance, all messages containing the word “school” could be filtered to a School Label.
  • Doesn’t Have: Selects all messages that don’t contain certain words.
  • Has Attachment: Selects all messages with attachments. 

Once you have selected your chosen criteria, click Test Search to see which messages are filtered by your terms. If you are pleased with the messages selected, click Next Step. You also have the option of tweaking your filter criteria and running another Test Search.

After selecting Next Step you will be taken to the Choose Action menu. The Choose Action menu allows you to select where your filtered messages will be delivered. You are given several destinations to choose from: 

                • Skip the Inbox: Archives incoming message (labels messages as All Mail).
                • Mark as Read: Marks incoming message as read, even if you haven’t opened it.
                • Star it: Stars incoming message (labels message as Starred).
                • Apply the Label: Automatically labels incoming message with a chosen Label.
                • Forward It: Automatically forwards incoming message to a selected address.
                • Delete it: Sends incoming message to the Trash Label.
                • Never send to Spam: Ensures incoming message won’t be mistakenly deleted as spam. 

When you find the appropriate destination for your filtered messages, select Create Filter. Remember that once you create a filter, it only applies to new messages. To include older messages into your filter, check the Also Apply Filter option next to Create Filter.

Editing or Deleting Existing Filters

If you would like to delete or edit an existing folder you have to access Filters in the Settings menu. First select Settings (located at the top right of the page), and then click Filters in the Settings Menu. You will then see a list of all existing Filters. You have the option of either deleting the Filters or editing them. Deleting Filters will remove your filtering criteria while still leaving your messages intact. Editing Filters will bring you back to the Create a Filter menu to change the criteria of your filter.