Email folders in Gmail

I absolutely fell in love with gmail once I started using it. I currently use it for my primary mail and am very happy with it. However, when I would talk to my friends about gmail their major grudge seemed to be the lack of "folders". I naturally would tell them about gmail's labels and how it is a more general concept than folders. The basic argument they would give me would be how using folders to sort mail (using filters) leaves the inbox uncluttered and allows one to prioritize mail handling. I saw a point in their argument. Essentially they wanted a way to hide all the mails on a label from the main inbox view… though they would prefer to keep the uncategorized mail in inbox.

One day I subscribed for a really high volume mailing list and searched frantically for a way to hide the mails under a label. Not being able to do that I unsubscribed but continued my search for a way. Then on visiting the page mentioned in the note above I saw a very easy of achieving the same. The basic idea is that gmail's inbox itself is some kind of a label. You should be able to see this when you go to 'All Mail'. By default, gmail marks all incoming mail with the inbox label. Assuming that you have a filter to automatically label the mails, you edit the filter of the given label and enable "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" [on the second pane for editing labels]. The mails filtered by this filter will still be visible in 'All Mail' but won't show in the inbox. However, you will see the unread count in the label corresponding to it in exactly the manner folders work.

Hope this helps. Criticism, suggestions are welcome.


This tip is largely because of the following web page. However, the author doesn't really stress on the part of hiding the mails from the inbox display using this technique. I had searched quite a lot for this on google and had found no answer. So I thought I would write it down.

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13 Responses to Email folders in Gmail

  1. David says:

    Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for.

  2. Luckylehana says:

    yeah i also found gmail to be good…….but it really sucks by absence of folders ……..i m used to of the same at office and yahoo servers

  3. Howard says:

    problem what if you get mail that is forwarded to you . some is important and goes in the label and sometimes not. You cannot apply a filter

  4. mash says:

    Yes, thank you, but this solves the problem only partially.
    Because when working with email folders you have the ability to create SUBFOLDERS as well. And I do not see, how can you replace this ability with labels :(

    • Robert says:

      you could always use a main label, like a folder, and then use a second label as a subfolder. for instance, you could make a general label like ‘Work’, and then a more specific label like ‘Clients’. if you gave all your work-related emails the Work label, and only some of the ‘Work’ emails the ‘Clients’ label, it would be like subfolders. kind of. do you know what i mean?

  5. Haraye says:

    Hi, I canít understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please :)

  6. Venessa Schmerer says:

    Great articles & Nice a site.

  7. lefthandpisces says:

    Amazing. Exactly what I was looking to do.

    Thanks!

  8. dj says:

    Thanks for this!!! great tip :D

  9. luke says:

    gracias amigo!

  10. rajni says:

    on nokia e 72 I cannot create folders for filing the e mail
    nokia e71 worked Very well
    can any one explain why an upgrade cannot do ??
    Very frustrated

  11. Katherine Lilly says:

    I solve this problem by using filters http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=6579. You can have e-mails from a specific e-mail address, or with certain words go into a specific “folder” which is the label.

    The most simple way to do this in my opinion is to have different e-mail accounts. Since I”m into photobooks right now I made a specific g-mail account for anything that had to do with all the sales and promos they have going on. Then I set up my new gmail to forward everything to my regular e-mail. Then I set a filter to label anything TO: my photobook e-mail address and by pass the inbox.

    On the labels settings you can decide whether you want to show or hide your labels on the left side.

    I hope this isn’t too confusing, but I find this works really well to prioritize my e-mail.

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