Using filters

Gmail's filters allow you to manage the flow of incoming messages. Using filters, you can automatically label, archive, delete, star, or forward your mail, even keep it out of Spam.

To create a filter

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the down arrow in your search box. A window that allows you to specify your search criteria will appear.
    Gmail Search Box

  3. Enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, click the search button.
  4. Click Create filter with this search at the bottom of the search window. If you need to verify the search results, you can click the x to collapse the filter options. Clicking the down arrow again will bring the window back with the same search criteria you entered.
  5. Choose the action(s) you want the filter to take.
    To keep organized, many people like to have incoming messages automatically labeled and removed from their inbox until they can look at them later at a more convenient time. If you want to do this, make sure to select Skip the Inbox (Archive it) and Apply the label: when you create your filter.
  6. Click the Create filter button.

Please note: When you create a filter to forward messages, only new messages will be affected. Any existing messages that the filter applies to will not be forwarded.

To use a particular message to create a filter

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Select the message in your message list.
  3. Click the More button, then Filter messages like these.
  4. Enter your filter criteria in the appropriate field(s).

To edit or delete existing filters

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click the Filters tab.
  5. Find the filter you'd like to change and click edit or delete to remove the filter.
  6. If you're editing the filter, enter the updated criteria for the filter in the appropriate fields, and click Continue.
  7. Update any actions and click the Update filter button.

You can create an unlimited number of filters, but only 20 filters can forward to other addresses. You can maximize your filtered forwarding by combining filters that send to the same address.

To export or import filters

If you're a filter pro and have a great filter system that you want to use in another account or share with a friend, you can export and import filters.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click the Filters tab.

To export a filter, check the box next to the filter, and click the Export button at the bottom of the page. This will give you a .xml file, which you can edit in a text editor if you'd like.

To import a filter, click the Import filters link at the bottom of the page. Choose the file with the filter you'd like to import and click the Open file button. Click the Create filters to finish importing the filter.