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How to create folders in Gmail

How to create folders in Gmail

min read

When you’re receiving hundreds of emails each day, it’s tough to stay organized. Setting up a categorization system is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss or lose an important message. 

Luckily, Gmail offers plenty of helpful features to keep your inbox tidy. Creating folders and filters are two of the easiest ways to organize your incoming mail. Here’s how to create folders in Gmail (and more) to  make your daily communication a little less stressful. 

<a href="#create-desktop" class="anchor-link">How to create Gmail folders on desktop</a>
<a href="#create-mobile" class="anchor-link">How to create Gmail folders on mobile</a>
<a href="#send-emails-folders" class="anchor-link">How to automatically send emails to folders</a>
<a href="#add-labels-emails" class="anchor-link">How to add labels to existing emails</a>
<a href="#delete-folders" class="anchor-link">How to delete folders in Gmail</a>
<a href="#organization-strategies" class="anchor-link">Helpful folder organization strategies</a>

What’s the difference between Gmail folders and labels?

Before we discuss ways to create and organize folders, let’s talk semantics. This header is actually a trick question: Gmail refers to folders as “labels,” so you’ll often see the two terms used interchangeably.

When you first open your Gmail account, you’ll notice that there are already some pre-built labels in the left-hand toolbar. You should see your main Inbox as well as Starred, Snoozed, Important, Sent, and Drafts. Creating a label adds a custom listed item just below this existing list in Gmail’s left-hand column. 

A screenshot of the existing list in Gmail’s left-hand column.

Gmail also has some pre-built categories that look like tabs in your Inbox. The Promotions and Social categories exist to help you cut down on spam in your Inbox. With these categories, it’s easy to comb through your promotional emails on your own time without them clogging up your main Inbox. 

Why are Gmail folders helpful?

For many professionals, most days are spent sorting through and responding to emails. If you receive a lot of messages throughout the workday, it’s easy for important communication to get lost in the shuffle. When this happens, people spend extra time searching for the right emails to respond to—which takes time away from more important tasks. 

Implementing Gmail labels helps you work more efficiently and keep track of important messages. This is crucial because you only have so many hours in a workday. Custom Gmail labels can keep internal and external communications separate, and even sort emails by project. For entrepreneurs or business owners, labels also work well for separating personal and business messages. 

How to create folders in Gmail

So let’s get practical. It’s pretty straightforward to create a label in Gmail. However, the formatting differs slightly between the desktop and mobile versions of the Gmail app. 

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How to create Gmail folders on desktop

 There are two ways to create a label in Gmail on a desktop. Here’s the first:

A screenshot of the formatting in Gmail on a desktop.
  1. Navigate to the toolbar on the left-hand side of the Gmail app. From the list of options, select ⌄ More to open the drop-down menu. 
  2. This will bring up a list of options. Select + Create new label from the bottom of the list. You should see a pop-up window that looks like this. 
A screenshot of the pop-up window when creating a label in Gmail.
  1. In the menu, name your new label. You’ll also have the option to nest the label under an existing label. For example, you might have “Orders” as an overarching label, and then create additional labels to separate messages from different types of ordersyour organization can fulfill. 
  2. Click Create. You’ll then see the new label, Orders, in the left-hand column of your screen under the Labels section. 
A screenshot of Gmail's formatting on a desktop showing an example of what the inbox looks like when clicking the Labels section.

It’s also possible to create a label from the settings section. 

  1. Start by clicking on the gear icon in the top right corner of your screen. 
  2. Then, select See all settings from the pop-up menu on the right side of the screen. 
  3. This will bring up a larger settings page. Select Labels from the tabs at the top of the page.
A screenshot of Gmail's formatting on a desktop showing the labels section on the settings page.
  1. On this page, you’ll be able to see all of the labels you currently have. Approximately halfway down the page, you’ll see a Create new label button. 
  2. Select this button to bring up a pop-up menu that’ll let you either name or nest your new label.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="create-mobile" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

How to create Gmail folders on mobile

Here’s how to create a label in the Gmail mobile app. 

  1. Start by selecting the menu icon in the top left corner of your screen. This icon consists of three horizontal lines and is located next to the search bar. 
  2. This will bring up a menu on the left-hand side of the screen, similar to the desktop app. Scroll down to the Labels section and select Create new
  3. This will bring up a menu that will allow you to name and save your label. 

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How to automatically send emails to folders

To make your email setup as efficient as possible, you’ll want to set up email filters. This will automatically label incoming emails based on criteria you set, so you don’t have to manually label your emails as they come in. Here’s how to do it on desktop. 

  1. Find and click the filter icon in the right-hand side of the search bar. It will look like three little horizontal sliding scales. 
  2. This will bring up a menu with a variety of options. Enter the type of filter you would like to use. For example, you might want to filter emails from a specific sender or an email that contains a specific word. 
  3. At the bottom of the menu, select Create filter
  4. This will bring up another menu with a checklist. Select Apply the label and then choose the folder that you would like these emails sent to. Then, click Create filter.

Now, any email that meets your pre-designated criteria will be sent to that label automatically. 

Organize your email with folders

Once you’ve learned how to create labels in Gmail, there are so many different ways you can use them to organize your inbox and set yourself up for success. 
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How to add labels to existing emails

We’ve already discussed how to send emails to specific labels automatically, but you can also label emails manually as you’re organizing your inbox. 

To do this, open the email you’d like to label, and then click the Label icon on top of the message. This icon looks like a small arrow or tab. 

A screenshot of the icons at the top of the message after opening the email in Gmail.

When selected, the icon will bring up a list of labels you’ve already created. Select the correct label for the email, and Gmail will move the message there. 

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How to delete folders in Gmail

It’s also easy to edit or delete labels once they’ve been set up. Here’s how to delete labels in Gmail or make changes to existing labels. 

A screenshot of Gmail's formatting on a desktop with a pop-up window on the right of the Label section.

  1. Scroll down to the Labels section in the column on the left-hand side of the screen. If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll need to navigate to the menu (the three horizontal line icon mentioned earlier) to find this section. 
  2. Identify the label you’d like to edit or delete and hover over it. Select the three vertical dots to the right of the label. 
  3. This will bring up a menu to the right of the label. 
  4. If you want to edit your label, select Edit. This will bring up a menu where you can rename or re-nest your label. 
  5. To remove an inbox label in Gmail, select Remove label and then select Delete

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Helpful folder organization strategies to try

We recommend customizing your labels based on your own workflow and the types of emails you receive. Here are some popular ways people implement labels across their inboxes. 

Organize by time sensitivity

This will ensure that you don’t miss an important email and thoughtfully prioritize your communication. For example, you might have labels for “Respond Today,” “Respond This Week,” or “No Response Needed.” 

Organize by contact type

Another helpful way to sort your emails is by type of contact. Labels can help you organize communication within your organization by team or department. You can also sort incoming emails from outside your organization into categories like leads, existing clients, or vendors. 

Organize by project

If you’re working on several large projects at once, consider creating an email label for each project. This way, you can keep the emails for each project separate and avoid confusion throughout the day. 

Filter out promotions or spam

If you frequently receive promotions from brands or vendors that you don’t have time to respond to, you can use labels to remove them from your main inbox. Using a label for specific types of promotional emails means that they won’t automatically be deleted, and you’ll be able to browse them all at once when you have time. 

Improve your email organization with Streak

If you need to get a messy inbox under control, Gmail labels are a helpful tool. However, this feature offers limited functionality if you’re looking to create a more sophisticated email organization system. 

That’s where Streak comes in. The Streak plugin brings your favorite CRM features directly to Gmail, allowing you to build pipelines, collaborate with your team, and make notes. 

A screenshot of a Gmail inbox with Streak inbox labels
Streak helps you organize your emails with pipelines and inbox labels

Streak’s pipeline tool has a sophisticated labeling feature that allows you to sort incoming emails based on the project they’re associated with. This allows your entire team to track emails from important contacts. Not only will you be able to keep your own emails organized, but you’ll also have access to these real-time insights as you work. 

You’ll also have crucial pipeline details at your fingertips while managing your inbox, including related emails, associated tasks, and any other helpful contact or project details you’ve already entered. With this feature, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and avoid searching through your inbox to find the information you’re looking for. 

Here’s to better inbox hygiene and Gmail excellence for all with Streak. Feel free to take our free plan for a spin today.

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