RAW Computing


Advanced Google Mail filters using labels

One of the first things that you learn when you switch to Google Mail is to use labels to tag messages. Create Work and Personal labels and you can select either one on the left to see just those emails in the inbox. That is useful, but what you may not be aware of is the way that labels can be used in the search box to perform some advanced filtering functions.

Suppose you have a label called News and you add it to all the newsletters you receive. If you want to display all emails tagged with News you just select it in the labels list on the left. Notice that in the search box at the top it says

label:news

Put a minus sign in front of this and you get the opposite effect, so that

-label:news

shows all the emails that are not tagged with the News label. Click the > to view the emails page by page in the usual way.

Two or more labels can be applied to emails. In fact, Gmail adds certain labels to emails itself. For example, emails in the inbox have the Inbox label. Emails that are unread have the Unread label and when you read them they have the Read label.

Suppose you wanted to see all the unread newsletters in your inbox. You would combine two labels and enter the following into the search box

label:news label:unread

Entering two labels like this is easy, but suppose you had more labels. To save a lot of typing, in cases like this you can use a shorthand method of specifying labels. The above command would be

label:{news unread}

Just list the labels in curly brackets and Gmail will display a list of all emails that have them. Suppose you wanted to see all the emails in your inbox that don't have labels. To do that you would have to put a minus at the start and a list of labels in curly brackets like this

-label:{Label1 Label2 Label3...}

To avoid having to type this every time, do it once and then save the page as a bookmark. The only snag is that if you add new labels you will need to update the bookmark.

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