Three easy ways to organize Gmail

Gmail's updated inbox makes it easy to organize emails and become more efficient at communication. Photo: Katie Elizabeth

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 21, 2013 – The first step to an organized inbox is to know where things belong. Just like in a house, everything should have a designated place. Here are three ways Gmail users can organize their inboxes to become more efficient communicators in their work and personal lives.

Organize your tabs

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Gmail recently updated their inbox to include the option of separating the user’s email into five basic tabs: primary, social, promotions, forums and updates. To get this new version of Gmail, click the Settings button represented by a gear image on the top right hand of the screen. In the drop down menu, click Configure inbox.

Gmail will automatically sort the user’s email into what it believes is the correct tabs. For example, if the user receives newsletters from a mobile restaurant ordering company they will now appear in the inbox’s promotions tab. If the user wishes to change where the email appears, simply right-click on the email and in the drop down menu hover over Move to Tab and choose which tab it should be delivered to.

Users can also change which tabs they want from the five. Click on the plus (+) button at the very right of all the tabs. From there, hover over each tab name to view what kinds of emails will be delivered there. Users can place a check mark on the ones they wish to use and then click save.

Create filters and labels

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To further organize the inbox, create filters and labels. Depending on the user’s personal preference, he or she can designate emails to be filtered into specific folders or place a label on the email to better identify what it’s for.

To set up a filter, go to Settings button on the top right corner and click on Settings in the drop down menu. Click on Filters, which appears at the top with the rest of the tabs. To create a new filter, click Create a new filter which is centered on the bottom of the filters box. From there, fill out the designated boxes as they apply including the email address of the person who is sending the email. The user can include multiple email addresses in one filter by separating them with a comma. Once satisfied, click “Create filter with this search.”

The user will then be directed to another options box where they can choose to have the emails skip the inbox and go straight into a label of their choice. These labels show up on the left hand side below the compose button. Labels are also seen in the main inbox right before the emails subject line.

To place a label onto an email conversation, click on the email then go to the label image on the top. In the drop down menu, choose the label you wish to apply or create a new label. That email conversation will then appear both in the inbox and under that specific label tab on the left. Users can choose to archive the labeled email so it doesn’t appear in the inbox but the message is still retained in that specific labeled folder. To archive, select the email(s) you want and click the arrow on the box icon at the very top.  

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Power of the plus sign

This organizing technique isn’t widely known. Google ignores periods and anything after a plus sign (+) in an email address. For example, if the email is people can still email and it would still go to the user’s inbox.

This is a handy way to organize where your email is coming from using filters. If the user has a website on holistic drug rehab, he or she can create a filter for all emails going to This way, users can see all those emails in their holistic rehab folder on the left hand side, without having to go through every email that comes into their inbox.

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Katie Elizabeth

Katie Elizabeth is a freelance blogger, content coordinator and communications grad student. She’s always on the lookout for the latest and greatest social media and tech tactics and thinking about the creative ways in which professionals can actually USE them. 

She’s worked in several different industries, including real estate, sustainability and career development. When she’s not writing or studying, she’s probably on her way to a concert or exploring flea markets and antique stores.


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