How to Use Labels in Gmail for Easy Inbox Organizing

For the simplest way to organize your Gmail inbox, use the application’s built-in feature. Here are the basics for labels in Gmail.

If there is one feature that you should be using to manage emails in Gmail, it’s labels. Labels are similar to folders because they allow you to organize your emails. You can quickly find an email by selecting its label, automatically creating filters to label messages, and keeping your inbox clean.

Here, we’ll walk through the basics of creating, editing, and applying labels in Gmail.

Labels Versus Folders

While labels in Gmail are similar to folders in other email applications, Google makes the difference clear.

Labels are different from folders. If you delete a message, it will be erased from every label that it’s attached to and your entire inbox.

So, keep this dissimilarity in mind when working with labels in Gmail.

Create a Label in Gmail

You have a few places in Gmail where you can create a label. You can do so in your Settings, from the toolbar, or using the menu on the left.

Create a Label in the Settings

To access the label section of the settings, click the gear icon on the top right and pick See all settings in the sidebar.

In the Settings area, choose the Labels tab. At the top, you’ll see System Labels and Categories. These are Gmail’s default labels. You cannot edit or remove these labels, but as you can see, you can hide labels if you like.

Go to the bottom, in the section called Labels, and click Create new label. Any labels you set up will then display in this area.

In Settings, Labels, click Create new label

Create a Label From the Toolbar

You can create and apply a label simultaneously from your inbox with a message selected or from the email window.

Click the Label button in the toolbar at the top and pick Create new.

Click Labels and pick Create new

Create a Label From the Side Menu

Whether you hide or show the left-side menu, you can create a label from it as well. At the bottom of the list, click More and select Create new label.

Click More, Create new label in the menu

When the new label window opens, give your label a name. You also have the option to nest your label if you already have others. Click Create.

Name the label and click Create

Your new label will appear in the side menu at the bottom of the System Labels. Simply select a label in this area to view all emails with that label applied.

Label in the Menu

Apply a Label in Gmail

Once your label is created, you can apply it to any emails you like. Click the Label button in the toolbar in your inbox or the message window and check the box next to the label you want. Then, click Apply.

Click Labels, pick a label, and hit Apply

You’ll see your label next to the email’s subject line in your inbox and on the message itself.

Label applied to email

You can set up a filter to automatically apply labels to incoming emails. Be sure to check out our how-to for using filters in Gmail if this interests you.

You can add more than one label to an email or remove a label and apply another.

Apply Multiple Labels

Select the email and click the Label button in the toolbar. Check the boxes for all labels you want to use, uncheck those you don’t, and click Apply.

Apply multiple labels

Apply a Different Label

To apply a different label to a message, uncheck the current label, check the box for the new one, and click Apply.

Change Gmail labels

Edit or Delete a Label

Like creating a label, there is more than one spot in Gmail to edit or delete one. For editing, you can change the name or label it’s nested within. If you delete a label, you’ll be asked to confirm.

  • Go to your Gmail Settings, select the Labels tab, and scroll to the bottom. Click Remove or Edit next to the label.

Edit or Remove a label in the settings

  • Hover your cursor over the label in the side menu and click the three dots that appear. Choose Edit or Remove Label at the bottom of the shortcut menu.

Edit or Remove a label in the menu

Labels for Better Organization in Gmail

Gmail Labels give you an easy way to keep your emails organized. And since you can create as many as you like, it’s the ideal feature for finding emails quickly.

For more help with Gmail, check out how to manage your mailbox with multiple inboxes or how to adjust your Gmail snooze settings.

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