Inbox a mess? Here’s the surefire way to keep your email in check

·5 min read

I have a rule: If discussing something via email is going to take paragraphs and paragraphs, I pick up the phone instead.

Another way I keep my inbox clean is by archiving all my messages at the start of the year. Who says you can’t do the same thing in summer? Tap or click for my quick and easy fix to get a clean slate.

I recommend a smart email trick for every homeowner: Set up an email address just for your home. Tap or click to see why it’s just so useful.

If you’re sick of wasting time searching endless or scrolling through your inbox, it’s time to up your email game. Every Gmail user should do this.

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How to use Gmail filters

Think of filters as Gmail’s alternative to folders. Use them to apply a label to messages, archive, delete, star, or automatically forward your mail.

If you're the victim of endless spam and other annoying messages, this is the perfect way to beat the spammers to the punch. You’ll banish the junk that gets through your spam filter with the right filters.

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Filters are also useful to move everything from, say, your aunt who never stops sending articles to one specific spot. Or filter messages from your HOA to easily find what you need.

There are a couple of ways to set up filters in Gmail. One is right from your inbox.

Hit the Show search options icon in the search bar at the top. (It looks like three lines with slashes through them.) A filter menu will open immediately that allows to you create a filter with any of these parameters:

The sender and recipient (if you have multiple addresses)

The subject’s contents

Keywords within the body of the email

The size of the email

The date it was sent or received

Whether the email has an attachment

Enter your search criteria. To check that your search worked correctly, see what emails show up by clicking Search. If all looks good, click Create filter at the bottom of the search window.

Only new messages will be impacted when you create a filter. Another thing to keep in mind: When someone responds to a message you’ve filtered, the reply will only be filtered if it meets the same search criteria.

Think of filters as Gmail’s alternative to folders. Use them to apply a label to messages, archive, delete, star, or automatically forward your mail. <span class="copyright"> Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images</span>
Think of filters as Gmail’s alternative to folders. Use them to apply a label to messages, archive, delete, star, or automatically forward your mail. Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

GET SMART: Gmail tips and tricks: 10 buried settings and features to try

How to create a Gmail filter within a message

Another way to create a filter is from within an email you’ve already received. Here’s how:

Open Gmail.

Check the checkbox next to the email you want, and click More (it’s a three-dot menu).

Click Filter messages like these.

Enter any additional filter criteria.

Click Create filter.

How to edit or delete Gmail filters

If you don’t like a filter you’ve set up, you can edit or delete it. Here’s how:

Open Gmail.

At the top right, click Settings (the cog icon) > See all settings.

Click Filters and Blocked Addresses.

Find the filter you’d like to change.

Click Edit to change it or Delete to remove the filter. If you’re editing the filter, click Continue when you’re done editing.

Click Update filter or OK.

Pro tip: Gmail filter ideas

What’s the best way to use Google filters? Aside from what I mentioned above, here are a few to consider.

Prioritize messages from your most important colleagues.

Save your receipts, bills, and payment confirmations in one place.

Automatically Star important things to archive — order numbers, tracking numbers, and other things to reference later.

Forward messages automatically or answer certain messages automatically with a custom, pre-written template.

Send less important or annoying messages to one spot so you can read them at your leisure instead of letting them sit in your inbox.

Chances are, your inbox is exhausting. Filters are one of the best solutions for productivity and peace of mind.

Keep your tech smarts growing. Hit the link below for my latest podcast.

Another way to create a filter is from within an email you’ve already received <span class="copyright">Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images</span>
Another way to create a filter is from within an email you’ve already received Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.