Today’s Geek School tutorial will expand our discussion of labels in Gmail to include filters and then move on to tracking important celebrity emails.


  1. Getting to know Gmail
  2. Mobile application, mail composition and conversations
  3. Inbox management and shortcuts
  4. Mail filters and the Star system
  5. Attachments, signatures and security
  6. Invitations and Vacationers
  7. Use Gmail as a task list
  8. Multiple accounts, keyboard shortcuts, and remote sign out
  9. Use your Gmail account to access other accounts
  10. Power Tips and Gmail Labs

Labels are nice, but they can be used much more efficiently using filters, so messages that come in according to certain criteria are automatically labeled or labeled. This helps a lot with organization and can greatly reduce the clutter of incoming messages.

Create a new filter using the search box

To create a new filter, we will specify the search parameters in the Search field and create a filter from the search. To do this, click the down arrow in the Search field.


Enter your search criteria in the search options field. You can choose to search for messages from a specific person or the entire domain (, with certain words in the subject line, as well as with other conditions.

To create a filter based on this search, click the «Create a filter using this search» link.


The filter options will be displayed. Check the boxes that indicate what you want to do with messages that match your search criteria.

For example, we decided to always label messages that come from a given email address with the label «HTG School» and always mark those messages as «important». We also decided to apply the filter to all existing emails from this person.

NOTE. If you want your labels to act like folders, you can select «Skip Inbox (Archive)» to automatically move emails to labels as they arrive. This provides a more organized email, although you may risk missing an important message as it won’t automatically show up in your inbox.

Once you have defined the filter criteria, click «Create Filter».

NOTE. If you choose to forward a message as an action in a filter, only new messages will be affected. Any existing messages to which the filter is applied will not be forwarded.


A message will appear stating that your filter has been created. Please note that in this screenshot, all messages from this person are labeled «HTG School».


Messages were also marked as important automatically (the tag icons to the left of senders are filled with yellow).


Create a new filter using the settings screen

You can also create a filter in «Settings».

Open the Settings screen as described above and click on the Filters link at the top.


Click on the «Create a new filter» link.


Specify the search and filter criteria in the same way as in the previous method and click «Create Filter» in the filter options dialog box.

Instead of being taken back to your inbox, you’ll be taken back to the Filters screen and your new filter will appear in the list. You can edit, delete, or select it for export (exporting filters will be discussed later in this tutorial).


Click the Inbox shortcut to return to your inbox.


Use a specific message to create a new filter

You can also create a filter based on an existing message. To do this, select the message in the message list or in the label.


Click the «Advanced» button and select «Filter Similar Messages» from the drop-down menu.


Note that the «From» field in the «Filter» dialog box is automatically populated. Enter any other filter criteria and click «Create a filter using this search».


Specify the filtering criteria by selecting the filter options in the next dialog box as described earlier.

NOTE. You can use this method to set up filters to automatically delete unwanted email messages as they are received.

Apply the same filter to many senders

You can use one filter to manage messages from multiple different email addresses. For example, we can specify to tag posts from multiple people with the «HTG School» tag. To do this, open the search options dialog using the down arrow in the Search field.

Add each email address in the «From» field separated by the word «OR» and click «Create a filter with this search».


To apply the same label to messages from any of these email addresses, select the Apply Label checkbox and select the desired label from the pop-up list. Apply any other actions for this filter and click Create Filter.

NOTE. Don’t forget to check the «Also apply filter to matching conversations» checkbox if you want to apply this filter to messages you’ve already received from these two email addresses.


Export and Import Filters

Now that you’ve learned how to set up filters, you’ve probably created some very useful filters that you can use on other Gmail accounts. You can export filters from one account and import them to another.

Export filter

To export a filter, first open the «Filters» screen in the «Settings» screen (using the «Settings» button). Then select the filter you want to export from the list and click «Export».

NOTE. You can select multiple filters to export at the same time.


In the Save As dialog box, navigate to where you want to save the filter. The filter is saved as an XML file with a default name that you can change if you like, just leave the extension as .xml and click save.


You now have a file that you can backup, transfer to another computer, share with a friend, or import to another Gmail account.

Import filter

To import a filter to your Gmail account, open Filters from the Settings screen and click the Import Filters link.


In the Import Filters section, click Choose File.

NOTE. If you change your mind about importing the filter, click the Cancel Import link.


In the Open dialog box, navigate to the location where you saved the exported filter. Select a file and click Open.


The file name is listed next to the «Choose File» button. Click «Open File» to open the file and import filters into it.


The message is displayed in the Search field while the filter file is being opened. This may take some time, depending on how many filters are in the file.


All filters in the selected file are listed in the Import Filters section. Select the filters you want to import. If you want to apply imported filters to existing mail messages (as you would when creating a new filter), select the Apply New Filters to Existing Mail check box and click Create Filters.


A dialog box will appear showing the progress of the filter creation process. You can cancel the creation of filters by clicking «Stop».


When filters are created, they appear in your list on the Filters screen.


Keep track of important emails using the Star system

The Gmail star system lets you mark your most important emails so you can easily find them later. By default, flagged posts are marked with a yellow star, but you can add other colors and types of stars.

Stars appear to the left of the sender’s name in your inbox.


Add a star to a post

To add a star to a message in your inbox, click the star icon next to the sender’s name, as shown above.

You can also add an asterisk to a post while it’s open. To do this, click the star icon in the upper right corner of the message to the right of the date. In conversations, this will be to the right of the first message at the top of the conversation.


To add a star to the message you’re composing, click the More Options arrow in the lower right corner of the Compose window.


Hover over the Label option and select Add Star from the submenu.


On the Sent Mail label, the message you sent is marked with an asterisk.


Use multiple asterisks in your posts

Gmail allows you to use several colors and types of «stars» to distinguish messages from each other.

This feature is useful if you want to flag multiple posts with different levels of importance. For example, you can use a purple star for posts you want to read again and a red exclamation mark for posts you need to follow.

Click the «Settings» button and select «Settings» from the drop-down menu. On the General tab, go to the Stars section. Drag icons from the Not Used section to the Used section to add different types of asterisks. If you have more than one type of asterisk, clicking on the asterisk icon next to an email will cycle through all the asterisks in use. If you flag a post while it’s open, only the first type of star is applied.


Find starred messages

To view all starred messages, click the Starred label on the left side of the main Gmail window. You can also search for starred messages by typing «is:starred» in the Search box.


Find posts with a specific type of star

If you have used several different types of asterisks to tag your posts, you may want to search for a specific type of asterisk. To do this, search using «has:» with the name of the star (for example, «has: red-bang»).


To find out the name of a specific star, open the General tab on the Settings screen and hover your mouse over the type of star you want. The name of the star is displayed in a pop-up window.


Help for advanced search in Gmail Help also has a list of celebrity names.

Keep flagged messages outside of the main tab

If you organize your inbox using the custom tabs mentioned earlier in this tutorial, messages from other tabs marked with an asterisk are also included in the Basic tab. If you don’t want to see flagged messages from other tabs in the General tab, you can disable this.

Click the plus sign to the right of the tabs.


In the Select Tabs to Include dialog box, uncheck Include Starred in Primary and click Save.


Further …

We’re here at the end of Lesson 4, but you’re well on your way to becoming a Gmail pro! In just four short days, you now know as much as you need to truly shine your inbox, and messages now automatically land on assigned labels without filling up your inbox.

In the next lesson, we’ll talk about signing and how to keep your profile safe and back up your data.

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