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How to create rules in Gmail to filter your inbox

How to create rules in Gmail to filter your inbox

min read

Did you know that the average person receives 121 emails per day? If you work in a communication-heavy field like sales or marketing, that number is likely to be significantly higher.

Cleaning out a clogged inbox is a frustrating task for anyone. Between essential work emails, personal messages, promotions, and spam, there’s so much to sort through and organize. 

To stay on top of these messages, you’ll need to leverage automated tools. 

This is where Gmail rules come in. Let’s take a look at what Gmail rules are, how to create rules in Gmail, and how to use the Streak plugin to organize your inbox and glean insights from your messages. 

<a href="#what-is-a-rule" class="anchor-link">What is a rule in Gmail?</a>
<a href="#how-to-create-a-rule" class="anchor-link">How to create a rule in Gmail</a>

  • <a href="#create-rule-search-bar" class="anchor-link">Create a rule from the search bar</a>
  • <a href="#create-rule-specific-message" class="anchor-link">Create a rule from a specific message</a>

<a href="#edit-delete-rules" class="anchor-link">How to edit and delete rules in Gmail</a>
<a href="#import-export-filters" class="anchor-link">How to import and export filters in Gmail</a>
<a href="#helpful-filter-options" class="anchor-link">Helpful Gmail filter options</a>

  • <a href="#archive-promotional-emails" class="anchor-link">Archive promotional emails</a>
  • <a href="#remove-app-notifications" class="anchor-link">Remove app notifications</a>
  • <a href="#mark-senders-important" class="anchor-link">Mark senders as “important”</a>
  • <a href="#build-a-to-do-list" class="anchor-link">Build a to-do list</a>

<a href="#automatically-sort-emails" class="anchor-link">Automatically sort emails with Streak</a>

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What is a rule in Gmail? 

Gmail rules are filters designed to sort mail automatically as it enters your inbox. You can implement a wide range of custom rules in Gmail based on how you want to organize your inbox. There are Gmail rules to label, forward, delete, auto-reply, and more to your messages as they reach your inbox, so you no longer have to worry about handling these tasks manually. 

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How to create a rule in Gmail

There are two ways to create a rule in Gmail: from the search bar or from a specific message. Both options are quick and straightforward. 

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Creating a rule from the search bar

A screenshot of the Gmail inbox showing how to create a new filter or rule from the Gmail search bar
Create a new filter or rule from the Gmail search bar

The Gmail search bar is located at the top of your screen. To create a rule:

  1. Start by typing in a specific filter keyword or parameter. For example, you can filter out emails that contain or don’t contain a specific word, or emails from a specific sender. 
  2. Click the "Show search options" icon on the right to set more specific parameters, like the email size, date, or subject line.
  3. You can use the "Search" button to preview the filter results within your existing emails. Refine your rule if you need to.
  4. Once you’ve decided which parameters you want to use, click the "Show search options" icon in the search window and select the “create filter” button.

Next, you’ll need to choose an action for this filter from the list available. Gmail provides 12 options to choose from and many different ways to customize them. 

A screenshot of the options when creating a rule for what you want Gmail to do with the messages once you have a filter criteria
Once you have your filter criteria, create a rule for what you want Gmail to do with those messages

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="create-rule-specific-message" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Creating a rule from a specific message

A screenshot in the Gmail inbox showing that you can select a specific email and use the menu option (after clicking the three dots) to create a filter that matches your selection
Select a specific email and use the menu option to create a filter that matches your selection

It’s also possible to create a rule directly from a specific email message.

  1. Start by finding the message in your inbox that exemplifies the rule you want to create. For example, it could be from a specific sender or it could have a keyword in the subject line that indicates it’s a weekly report. 
  2. Check the box on the left-hand side of the subject line.
  3. Click the three-dot icon at the top of the page to see Gmail's menu options. 
  4. Select “filter messages like these”, which will open the filter menu and allow you to set your filter parameters. For example, you can filter for emails that contain or don’t contain a specific word, or emails from a specific sender. 

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How to edit and delete rules in Gmail

A screenshot of the "Filters and Blocked Addresses" page within Gmail settings
Manage your Gmail rules and filters in your Gmail settings

Once you’ve set up rules in Gmail to filter your incoming messages, it’s easy to edit or delete them in your settings page. Here’s how to do it. 

  1. Select the gear icon in the top right corner of your inbox
  2. Select “See all settings” from the menu. 
  3. Once you’re on the Settings page, choose “Filters and Blocked Addresses”. This will bring up a list of all your existing Gmail rules. 
  4. On the right-hand side, there will be an option to edit or delete each rule, and you can make changes as needed. 

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How to import and export filters in Gmail

Gmail has an import and export feature that makes it easy to share the Gmail rules you’ve created. This allows teams to share filters with new employees and get everyone working at the same pace. 

This is especially helpful for company-wide automated reports or status updates that are shared via email. Typically, you don’t need to read each one of these reports, but you may want to refer to a specific one later.

To export rules you’ve already created:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top-right of your Gmail inbox.
  2. Select "See all settings"
  3. Select “Filters and Blocked Addresses”
  4. Then, select the rules you’d like to export using the checkboxes to the left of each rule.
  5. At the bottom of the page, click the “Export” button. This will create a .XML file with your rules that you can share or edit. 

To import a list of Gmail rules:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top-right of your Gmail inbox.
  2. Select "See all settings"
  3. Select “Filters and Blocked Addresses"
  4. At the bottom of the page, select “import filters” and choose a file from the file picker. 
  5. Gmail will automatically upload your filters to Gmail and you’ll be able to manage them directly from the settings page. 

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="helpful-filter-options" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Helpful Gmail filter options

Gmail rules give you plenty of different ways to organize your inbox automatically. Here are some of the most popular filter options available. 

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Archive promotional emails

Promotional newsletters occasionally provide helpful coupon codes or sale information, but they’re often just a nuisance clogging up your inbox. Most promotional emails have an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom, so create a filter to send any emails with the word “unsubscribe” to your archives and keep your inbox clean. 

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Remove app notifications

Many popular apps send email notifications throughout the day to keep you updated on activity. However, if you’re already checking these apps regularly, these email notifications will be redundant. For example, you don’t need an email every time someone likes your post on LinkedIn or you meet your FitBit step goals. To filter out these app notifications, select relevant keywords and then add a label to them, archive them, or delete them, depending on your preferences. 

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Mark senders as “important”

If you’re consistently missing messages from important clients because they get buried in your inbox, try this filter option to ensure they show up. Marking a specific sender’s messages as “important” will give them priority in your inbox and use a special label to make them more visible. 

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Build a to-do list

One of the most helpful features of Gmail rules is the ability to create your own email labels. You can use this feature to create a to-do list directly in your inbox. Create a to-do label, and then filter emails with relevant keywords or characteristics into this label to keep them organized. 

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Automatically sort emails with Streak

Setting up your own Gmail filters is just the first step to optimizing your inbox. Add the Streak plugin to organize emails with colorful inbox labels and share them with your team. 

a screenshot of a Gmail inbox with Streak inbox labels
Automatically add color-coded labels to your emails in Gmail with Streak

With Streak, you can automatically organize emails in your inbox by contact, deal, or workflow. Just tell Streak which emails are important, and we’ll add them directly to Streak pipelines to help you track where each email conversation is in your sales, hiring, fundraising, you-name-it process. 

Once added, Streak labels your emails with useful color-coded information, making it easy to keep your inbox organized and find important emails in Gmail. 

Need to keep your team in the loop? Use Streak’s automatic email sharing to share conversations and allow team members to reply to your conversations with contacts and leads. 

Try Streak for free today.

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