How to use labels to organize and categorize messages in Gmail

what to know

  • Add a label: Open a message or select one (or more) messages from your inbox. In the toolbar, select the Label icon.
  • Customize labels: Go to Settings > Labels to create a new label, or select options to decide what the label does.
  • Delete a label: Select the More button next to the label name, then select Delete label .

Unlike most email servers, which rely on a series of folders to organize your mail, Gmail replaces folders with labels. These labels are a tagging system for emails. Learn how to use labels to organize your messages using Gmail on any operating system.

Folder-based sorting stores emails in one place. Tag-based sorting can apply multiple tags to a single message.

To add one or more labels to a Gmail message:

  1. Log in to your Gmail account

  2. Open the message, or check the checkboxes in the message list to select multiple emails.

  3. Go to the toolbar and select the label icon.

  4. In the Label With dialog box, select the label you want to apply. Select New to make and apply a new label.

The Label As dialog box contains a link to Manage Labels , which is a shortcut to the Labels screen of the Gmail Settings menu. Click the link, or go to Settings > Labels . If you're already logged into your Gmail account, you can go directly to your Gmail label settings.

At the bottom of the settings screen, you'll see the Customize tab. Select "Create new label" to add a new label to the list.

Each label supports four settings groups:

  • Show in label list : Whenever a mail list with a label appears in the left sidebar, select Show (default) to permanently show the label, select Hide to permanently hide the label, or only appear with that label. "Unread" is only displayed for unread messages in the label.
  • Show in message list : Select whether the label displays on messages in the message list.
  • Action : Select Delete to delete the label or Edit to change the label.
  • Show in IMAP : Forces email programs that use IMAP folders instead of Gmail labels (such as Microsoft Outlook) to treat labels as IMAP folders.

Show in IMAP is selected by default unless you need to hide the message.

To edit or delete a Gmail label:

  1. Go to the folder pane and select the tags you want to manage.

  2. Select the "More" button to the right of the label name.

  3. Select the features you want to change, such as label color. Alternatively, select Edit to change the label name or nest it under another label.

  4. Select Save to apply changes.

  5. Select "Remove Tag" from the "More" menu to delete the tag.

  • You can have up to 500 Gmail labels. However, you can create other tags within these tags.

  • In your Gmail inbox, select the search bar and enter label: name or label: name (replace name with the name of the folder you want to merge). Select all messages in the results and create new labels for the selected messages.