How to Use Gmail Labels Properly

closeThis post was published 12 years 7 months 26 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

Over the months, I’ve seen a lot of complaints from people who don’t like Gmail’s labeling features and want Google to implement folders. The only problem here is, labels can already be used as folders. You just don’t assign more than one label to a conversation.

One comment in particular, on Matt Cutts’ recent post requesting Gmail feature suggestions, got my attention. The author, Luke Daly, says:

FOLDERS!!! I hate the labels feature, I want to add a email to a folder and not see it again until I view that folder

Luke, you can. Set up a filter like so:

  • Filter criteria (sender, subject, keywords, whatever)
  • Check “Skip Inbox” and set what label to apply at “Apply label”

It’s that easy. Really, it is! So do you need folders? No! Will everyone please stop suggesting folders already?!

I’m going to wait a bit for this to show up as a trackback, and if it doesn’t, I’m posting this page’s URL to the comments manually to stave off any further suggestions of folders. The idea!


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

One Comment:

  1. Funny. I get the same request at work from coworkers. I have been using folders for years and after one day of using labels (after switching to Gmail) I thought, “Man why didn’t I start using Gmail earlier!”. I think most people who struggle without folders just don’t want to give labels a fair shot.

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