How to Organize Gmail: 6 Tips

Organise gmail featured

Do you find that your inbox is overflowing, and you’re missing important emails? If so, learn how to organize Gmail using this guide.

Do you dread opening your Gmail because it’s such a mess? Do you have thousands of unread emails that you’ve always intended to deal with later? Have you missed an important email because it got lost among all the other unread emails?

If this sounds familiar, all is not lost. Gmail has some very useful tools that can help you get your inbox back into shape, and maybe even achieve the ultimate dream: inbox zero.

Here are some useful tips on how to organize Gmail.

1. Choose the Right Inbox Type

If you’ve not taken a deep dive into Gmail settings, the chances are that you’re still using the default inbox. You may not even be aware that there are different inbox types you can use. Choosing the right inbox type can make a huge difference in helping you to organize Gmail. Let’s take a look at your options.

Default Inbox

This is the standard look for Gmail. You have tabs at the top of the page for primary inbox, promotions, and social.

Important First

An effective way to ensure you keep on top of your most important emails, Important First learns which emails you open the most and which you reply to, as well as use other cues to place what it thinks are the most important emails at the top of your inbox.

Unread First

If you don’t always open every email in order, this inbox type can be highly useful. Your mail is split into two sections; the unread emails in the top section, and those you’ve opened below.

Starred First

If you want control over which emails are considered the most important, Starred First allows you to place all the messages that you’ve starred front and center. As with Unread First, your messages are split into two sections.

Priority Inbox

This splits your Gmail into up to four different sections and allows you to customize them from options such as Unread, Important and Unread, and Starred.

Multiple Inbox

If one inbox isn’t enough for you, you can sort your email into multiple different inboxes. You can create different search criteria for each inbox so that all your mail ends up in the inbox that you want.

How to Switch Gmail Inbox Type

Switching to a different inbox type is quick and easy to do. You can choose and customize your inbox type through Gmail settings.

To switch your inbox type in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings icon.
    gmail settings
  2. In the Quick Settings panel, choose your inbox type.
    gmail inbox type
  3. If you choose Default, Priority Inbox, or Multiple Inbox you can click Customize to choose the options for your chosen inbox.
  4. When you’re done, click the X at the top of the menu.

2. Make Use of Labels

Gmail has a set of pre-defined labels such as Important and Sent that are applied to your emails, but you can create your own labels to help keep your inbox organized. Creating labels for categories such as Friends and Work allows you to quickly access specific types of emails by clicking on the label in the sidebar.

To create new labels in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings icon.
    gmail settings
  2. Click the See All Settings button.
    gmail see all settings
  3. Select the Labels tab.
    gmail labels tab
  4. Click Create New Label.
    gmail create new label button
  5. Enter a name for your label.
    gmail label name
  6. If you want to nest it under another label, check the Nest Label Under box and select the label you want to nest it under.
  7. Click Create. Your label will now appear in the sidebar.
    gmail sidebar
  8. To apply your label to an email, right-click the message, hover over Label As, and select your label.
    gmail label as
  9. You can also add a label by opening the mail and clicking on the Labels icon at the top of the screen.
    gmail labels icon
  10. Select your label and click Apply.
    gmail apply label
  11. You can also use filters to apply labels. You can learn more about filters below.

3. Archive, Not Delete

In the quest for inbox zero, it can be satisfying to hit delete on all the emails you don’t need anymore. That’s fine until you realize that an email you need to access an email that you already deleted.

That’s where archiving comes in. Archiving your email will move it out of your inbox, so you can still achieve your goal of inbox zero. But the archived messages will all still be searchable, so if you ever need one again, you can retrieve it easily. Archiving is as easy to do as deleting once you know how and is a simple way to help organize your Gmail.

To archive an email in Gmail:

  1. Open the email you want to archive.
  2. At the top of the screen, click the Archive icon.
    gmail archive icon
  3. Your email will no longer appear in your inbox, but can still be found in the All Mail view and will appear in search results.
  4. Alternatively, to archive more than one email at a time, you can select multiple emails in your inbox and right-click on one of them, then select Archive.

4. Send and Archive

If you’re a fan of archiving, you can use a useful tool that will archive a message as soon as you send it. The email will remain hidden unless the recipient replies to it, at which point it will reappear in your inbox. This useful feature is disabled by default.

To turn on Send & Archive in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings icon.
    gmail settings
  2. Click the See All Settings button.
    gmail see all settings
  3. Select the General tab.
    gmail general tab
  4. Click the Show “Send & Archive” Button In Reply button.
    gmail send and archive on
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click Save Changes.
  6. When you reply to an email, you will now see the option to Send and Archive your email.
    gmail send and archive button

5. Filters are Your Friend

Gmail filters can be used to keep mail that you’re not that interested in out of your inbox. You can set up filters to apply labels to specific emails, or to send those annoying ‘jokes’ your great aunt sends you straight to the trash. If you want to organize your Gmail account, learning how to use filters is essential.

A useful example of a filter is to have any newsletter emails go straight into your archive.

To have newsletter emails skip your inbox in Gmail:

  1. Click the Search Options icon in the search bar.
    gmail search settings
  2. In the Has The Words field, type unsubscribe.
    gmail has words filter
  3. Click Create Filter.
    gmail create filter
  4. Check the Skip The Inbox (Archive It) box.
    gmail skip inbox
  5. Click Create Filter.
    gmail create filter button
  6. Now no emails with the word ‘unsubscribe’ in them will appear in your inbox, but can still be found in the All Mail folder.

6. Snooze Non-Urgent Emails

If an email needs to be dealt with but isn’t a priority, it can be all too easy to forget about it as it becomes buried under a mountain of other emails. Snoozing your email brings it back to the top of your inbox at a time of your choosing.

To snooze an email in Gmail:

  1. Hover over the email you want to snooze.
  2. Click the Snooze icon.
    gmail snooze button
  3. Select one of the predefined options, or choose your own time and date by clicking Pick Date & Time.
    gmail snooze date
  4. The email is removed from your inbox but will return at the top of your inbox at the time and date you specified.

Get More From Gmail

Learning how to organize Gmail ensures that you are in charge of your emails, rather than your emails being in charge of you. There are plenty of other tricks to help you get more out of your Gmail account.

You can learn how to quickly find unread emails in Gmail. You can ungroup emails if you’re finding the conversation view hard to follow. Not only that, but you can also create a group email list to quickly email multiple people at once.

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