Using Gmail as if it had folders

Use filters to automatically sort emails into folders

Gmail doesn’t use folders in the traditional sense, but uses what they call “shortcuts.” When you mark an email with a different label, it still stays in the folder inbox , but also available from the shortcuts folder. One way to make labels look more like folders is to automatically move incoming messages to these label categories.

When you move emails from a folder inbox and classify them by labels, they will be displayed separately from the rest of your posts. For example, you can have all Amazon purchases in one label Amazon and emails from work in a label Work that no longer rubbish inbox folder.

You can manually move emails into these folder-like areas using drag and drop, but Gmail also supports automatic sorting of emails into folders via filters.


Automatically move emails from a folder to a separate folder inbox you need to set filters, which you can do via the search box at the top of Gmail. The first step is to choose how Gmail should decide which emails to move.

  1. Click the little arrow to the right of the search field at the very top of Gmail.

  2. Fill in this field with all relevant information. You can use just one option or all of them here.

    • By: . If you want emails to be sorted in folders by who sent them, fill in this field. You can even enter multiple addresses separated by commas if you want to apply the same filter to all those email addresses.
    • To who . If you have multiple email accounts set up in Gmail, this field is useful for filtering just some of those emails.
    • Subject: emails can be moved to folders in Gmail based on what’s in the subject line. For example, emails that use “delivery” or “order update” in the subject line may be moved to a folder created for online orders only.
    • Contains words . Add here the words that the email must contain for the rule to apply to it.
    • Has not . This is the opposite of other criteria. For example, if the letter doesn’t contain the word “work,” you can treat it as a completely different message and move it to another place.
    • The size . This is especially useful for emails with attachments. This rule ensures that the rule only applies to emails that are larger or smaller than the size you specified here.
    • date in . Select a date and time range so that this rule only applies to emails that fall within that date range.
    • Search . If you use this rule, the rule will only search for emails in the folders you select. For example, choose spam to make sure the rule only applies to posts there.
    • Has an attachment . Enable this setting to ensure that the email has an attachment before it is moved to the specified folder.
    • Do not enable chats. Enable this setting if you don’t want chats to be included in this filter.
  3. Select Create filter at the bottom of the popup.

Now that you’ve decided which emails to apply the filter to, it’s time to specify where emails should be sent when they arrive in your folder. inbox .

  1. Select Skip Inbox (Archive) at the very top of the window. This ensures that emails never appear in a folder inbox , but instead go to the folder you choose below.

  2. Near Apply Shortcut , click/tap the drop-down menu and select the label to which emails will be moved when they arrive in your Gmail account.

    Select New tag… at the very top of the drop-down menu if you haven’t set a folder.

  3. Select Create filter to finish.

You can optionally enable other options on this screen such as mark an email as important, apply a filter to current emails, mark an email as read, etc.

New messages that meet your rules will only arrive in their labels (ie folders) and will be skipped directly above the folder inbox . You can access them from the shortcut itself on the Gmail side or from the folder All emails .

If you don’t hide labels from showing in Gmail, you’ll know when emails arrive because they have a number that indicates the number of unread emails.

Opening Gmail through IMAP moves the same messages to the appropriate folders in your email program. However, this does not apply to POP Gmail. Instead, emails are downloaded to the same folder like any other new message.

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