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Gmail Filters are a great way to automatically manage recurring types of messages. For example, if you always label messages from a certain person so they stand out in your Inbox, you can have a filter automatically apply the label for you. If you want all messages containing people’s TPS reports to skip your inbox and go directly to a Status Report label, a filter can do that, too.
Filters can apply any number of different actions to incoming messages, based on any combination of criteria. And the great news is, they’re really easy to create! In this tip, we'll create a filter that applies a Finance label to all messages from your accountant that contain a budget report attachment.
Step 1. Define which messages to filter
Let's begin. You need to define the messages you want to filter. You do this by selecting one or more criteria, just as if you were performing an advanced search. In fact, it’s so much like creating a search, that you use the Search box to do it!
1. Click the small down arrow at the far right of the Search bar to open the Search box.
2. Select one or more criteria that define which messages to filter.
3. Click the Create filter with this search link.
Gmail filters all messages that meet all the criteria you select. That is, the criteria are linked together with an implicit “AND.” The more fields you select, the more focused your filter will be. In the example above, Gmail interprets the filter as: Watch for all messages from “email@example.com” (AND) where the word “budget” appears in the Subject line (AND) where the word “report” appears anywhere in the message (AND) if it has an attachment. When Gmail receives a message that meets all four of these criteria, it will perform one or more actions on that message. Which actions? That’s what we’re going to define next
Step 2. Define the actions to take on filtered messages
Clicking the Create filter with this search link does two things: First, it finds any existing messages that meet the criteria you just defined. It also opens another screen where you can define one or more actions to take on these messages. For example, you could have the message skip the inbox and go immediately to the Finance label. You could mark it as important and add a star. Or you could make sure it’s never accidentally marked as Spam.
Our example is quite simple. We just want to apply the Finance label to these messages so they show up more clearly in our Inbox. To do this:
- Select one or more of the available options.
In our case, we select Apply the label and choose the Finance label.
- Optionally, apply the filter to the five existing messages that already meet our filter’s criteria.
- Click Create filter.
Your filter at work
With the filter created, new messages from Ben Brown that have the word “budget” in the Subject, “report” in the body, and any kind of attachment, automatically display in your Inbox with the Finance label.
Tip: Select a color for the label to make it show up even more prominently!
Manage your filters in Gmail Settings
If you later want to see all your filters, change a filter’s criteria, or delete a filter, open your Gmail Settings from the Gear menu (1). Then go to the Filters tab (2) to edit or delete a filter. (You can create a new filter here, too.)