Creating a Gmail filter

Max Dana Updated by Max Dana

Gmail filters allow you to keep your inbox in order by automatically labeling, marking as read, deleting, forwarding, and doing lots of other fun things to emails that match certain patterns. Follow the steps below to set up a filter.

  1. Search for an email of the type you want to filter, e.g. an invoice, a receipt, and approval request, etc. and click the filter icon to the right of the search bar. Alternatively, you can select the meatball menu (three dots) on the top right of any email and select Filter messages like this.
  2. Next, you need to decide on what information will be the most useful when setting up the filter. It’s important that this information is consistent so that future emails of the same type will continue to be filtered. On the other hand, you want it to be unique enough so that you don’t accidentally forward an incorrect email. The combination of the sender email address and some portion of the subject line that is consistent each time is usually a reliable filter.
  3. If you have filters that have similar subject lines but need to be processed differently based on the body of the email, you can also add key words or phrases from the body of the email in the Has the words field. It's best to put key phrases in quotes to maximize accuracy.
  4. Click Search to test your filter logic. You should see search results that match the email you are trying to filter. If you see a lot of unrelated emails you may need to refine your filter.
  5. Click the Filter icon to the right of the search bar to return to your filter settings. Adjust your settings if needed, then click Create filter
  6. The next screen will give you a lot of options for how to process emails that match the filter criteria. For example, in addition to forwarding to a specific email address, you can also skip the inbox, mark the email as read, and apply a label to the email so that it is automatically archived without you having to do anything. You can also select the option at the bottom to apply the filter to existing emails that match the filter criteria. Once you have selected the options that you want, click Create filter.

Once your filter is created, it is a good idea to monitor it from time to time to make sure it is working properly. Changes in the content of an email, e.g. if a vendor changes the subject line, can lead to filters breaking.

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