It happens to all of us: you’re expecting an email from an acquaintance who tells you they’ve already sent it your way, but you can’t see it anywhere. Finally, you figure the email might have somehow found its way to the spam folder, and long and behold! You were right. And what’s even more infuriating is that at the same time, promotional emails advertising some product or another appear in your primary inbox.
Well, no more. Using some of the tools that Gmail provides us, you can set up filters that will ensure that nothing important gets lost and that all the spam ends up in the right place. All you need to do is follow these steps.
There are two main ways to set up a filter in your Gmail: creating a filter from scratch, or from existing emails. To create a filter from scratch, click the downward-pointing arrow in the search bar in your Gmail (“Show search options”).
Enter the terms, email addresses, subjects, etc. you want to filter by and click “Create filter”.
Next, check the boxes for the actions you want Gmail to take with emails that fit the criteria you’ve set and click “Create filter”.
The other method, creating a filter from an existing email, is particularly helpful in those cases when the automatic filtering system in place sends emails to the spam folder or to the promotional category and you can’t see them without looking for them. Choose one such email, check the box next to it, and then click the three vertical dots icon under the search bar. Click “Filter messages like these”.
You will get the same box with fields to fill out, but the “From” email address will be filled out. You can, of course, add more criteria. When you’re happy with it, click “Create filter”.
If you don’t want emails from that source to get sent to the spam or the promotional folders, make sure to check the appropriate boxes and choose “Categorize as primary”.
But what if you’re not happy with one of the filters you’ve set up, or it isn’t functioning exactly as you wanted it to? Is it irreversible? Not at all. To change or delete one of your filters, click the cogwheel icon above your inbox (on the right-hand side) and click “Settings”.
Next, click “Filters and Blocked Addresses”.
You will now be presented with a list of all of the filters you have in place. Simply click “Edit” or “Delete” in order to change or remove any of them.
Finally, another cool application of Gmail that can help you tidy up your email is aliases. The way Gmail addresses work is that certain variations on your address will still register as being you, meaning you can give someone an address that’s a bit different to your main Gmail address, and you’ll still receive their email on your main Gmail account.
The rules for this are simple. Let’s assume your Gmail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. There are two types of aliases Gmail will recognize as being you:
• Adding periods to the email address. So, if your address is email@example.com, any email sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, “email@example.com”, or even “firstname.lastname@example.org” will still arrive in your inbox.
• Adding a plus sign after your address. So any mail addressed to “email@example.com” will be received by firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can add text after the plus sign, for example “email@example.com”.
But why are aliases useful? Well, many websites and services require email registration and may wish to send you advertisements and unwanted promotional ads. By giving out an alias instead of your real Gmail address, you have an easy way of filtering those unwanted emails.
To do so, create a filter from scratch, and fill out the “To” field with the alias you’ve given out, and then you can choose a specific action you want Gmail to take about all emails addressed to the alias.
By using these methods, you can be certain your Gmail inbox is always tidy, and all of the relevant emails are always a click away.