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How to Organize Your Inbox with Gmail Labels

Gone are the days where email was a fun communication tool to keep in touch with friends and family. With marketers, salespeople, newsletters, and retailers clogging your inbox full of messages, email has shifted from an enjoyable communication channel to a necessary evil. Now more than ever we’re finding ourselves spending more and more time sorting through dozens of emails to find the ones worth replying to, reading, and forwarding to someone else.

Thankfully, email doesn’t have to drive anxiety while unread email counters pile up throughout the day. By using Gmail Labels it is possible to organize our inboxes to file away important emails to stay organized and enjoy a more productive inbox. In this article, we will introduce how you can use Gmail Labels to repair your relationship with your Gmail inbox. 

If you are an Outlook user, you can read our guide on How to Organize Your Inbox with Outlook Folders.

What are Gmail Labels?

Gmail labels are tags that can be assigned to any and every email, incoming or outgoing, in your inbox. Similar to using post-it notes in a file folder, you can have multiple Gmail labels assigned to an email. 

Why Would You Use Gmail Labels

If you have a busy inbox you may want to consider using Gmail labels to help organize your incoming and outgoing email. Similar to a filing or folder system, labels allow you to tag emails together to be searched, retrieved, and reviewed at a later time.

For example, you may want to attach a label for all emails from your department in your company so that when an email comes in from a team member, you can easily identify its relevance, importance, and even urgency.

How to create a Gmail Label

Creating labels in Gmail is easy. To create a label in your Gmail inbox, follow these steps:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the left-sidebar of your inbox.
  2. Highlight and click on Create New Label.
  3. Type in any name you want for the new label and click Create. 
  4. That’s it!
  5. Your new label is created and will appear in your Gmail inbox.

How to assign a label to an email

Assigning a label to an email or tagging an email with a label is simple and there are a couple of ways to do this. To assign a label to a single email from the reading view, follow these steps.

  1. Open an email you wish to add a label to
  2. Click on the labels icon on the top-bar menu of the email (above the subject line). 
  3. Check the box for any labels you want to assign to the email 

Alternatively, you can add to multiple emails from your email list view.

  1. Open any list view of your inbox, this could be your Inbox folder, the Sent folder, or anything else.
  2. Check the boxes of any number of emails you wish to apply the same label to
  3. Click on the labels icon near the top
  4. Check the box for any labels you want to assign to the emails you selected

Organizing your Labels with Color

Remember sticking colored post-it notes along the outer edges of notebooks, textbooks, and binders to help you organized during your studies as a child? You may have set all blue post-it notes to pages-to-review and red post-it notes to a certain chapter or section. Gmail gives you the same flexibility and control to help organize your inbox by allowing you to assign colors to your labels for quick and easy identification of the importance or urgency of your emails.

How to Setup Color Coded Gmail Labels

If you want to begin organizing your inbox by assigning colors to certain labels, follow these simple steps.

  1. Open your Gmail inbox
  2. Go to the left sidebar in your inbox
  3. Find and highlight the label you want to assign a color to 
  4. Click on the settings (the three vertical dots) of the Label
  5. From the dropdown menu that appears, open ‘Label Color’
  6. Select the color of your choice.

What are Gmail sub-labels or Nested Labels?

Gmail allows you to further organize your labels using sub-labels under a parent label, similar to a folder having multiple sub-folders. These sub-labels are often referred to as nested labels.

Why would you need sub-labels?

Sub-labels are a great way to organize your emails if they can have relationships under a central point.  As an example, let’s say you want to keep track of all correspondence for one of your clients in a single folder, you could create a label and move all client-related emails there. In the beginning, your label will be easily manageable. But over time, as you begin to file away more client-related emails such as client invoices, support requests, client appointments, post-meeting action items, etc, your label can become severely clustered, and searching for an email within your label will be come increasingly more time-consuming. 

By segmenting your labels into sub-labels or nested labels, you can not only organize your inbox but organize sections or groups of emails within your inbox. sub-labels will appear right underneath the respective label it is associated with. Additionally, you can even create a sub-label to your sub-label.

How do you add a sub-label? 

Adding sub labels is an easy and effective way to further organize groups of like-emails. To create sub-labels follow these steps.

  1. Highlight a label you want to create a sub-label for.
  2. Click on the settings (the three dots) next to the label name
  3. Click Add Sublabel
  4. Enter the name of the sub-label 
  5. Select from the dropdown where you want the sub-label to appear under
  6. Click Create

Now you’ll see your new sub-label appear within your label. 

Multiple Labels in Gmail

As mentioned earlier, one key difference between Gmail labels and Outlook Folders is that Gmail labels can be treated as tags, and multiple tags can apply to the same email. This can be very helpful in organizing emails under multiple dimensions. For example, you may want to assign all incoming support emails with a Support Label, they can then receive labels if they are from people within your organization or external email addresses, and be further labeled by the type of support required. In this example, you may have emails labeled as “Support”, “External”, and “Android” and others labeled as “Support”, “Internal” and “Email”.

Automatically Send Incoming Email to a Folder

Take your Gmail Label organization to the next level and by using Gmail Filters to automatically assign emails to your new labels without the need to manually assign individual or groups of emails. 

If you’re ready to create custom filters to let emails bypass your inbox to populate your custom labels, then take a look at our guide on how to set up Gmail filters to organize your inbox.

The Future of Email Organization

Creating Labels in Gmail is a great way to organize your inbox by allowing you to file certain emails away for later retrieval. If you are looking to go beyond manually creating labels, assigning emails to them, and creating and updating Gmail filters, then you should consider InMoat

InMoat enables you to file away unimportant emails to be reviewed at a later time so that your default inbox can be focused on important emails. No need to worry about complex configurations, filters, or manually filing emails. 

To learn more about how InMoat can help you gain control of your inbox to be more organized and productive, then check out an overview of InMoat features.

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