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author photoChelsea FaithNovember 11, 2023

How to Label Emails in Gmail: The Ultimate Guide


Most email clients use folders for organization, but Gmail takes a different approach by introducing labels — a powerful tagging system that enhances your email management.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about Gmail labels, from creating and organizing them to supercharging your email management.

Also, stick around until the end to discover how to declutter your inbox and bid farewell to email chaos using an alternative email client.

Let's dive in.

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With Tatem, your inbox becomes clear and organized. Our automatic labeling feature sorts each email into categories like purchases, travel, social, and more, so you can find what you need in seconds. No more hunting endlessly for a certain message or attachment.

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Understanding Gmail Labels

Think of labels as digital tags you can assign to your emails to organize them better. Unlike folders, a single email can have multiple labels, ensuring that you can cross-reference messages effortlessly.

You can create custom labels to suit your needs and apply them to specific emails or conversations.

They facilitate quick decisions about an email's importance and purpose.

When you open your inbox, the presence of labels on emails can provide instant insights, helping you identify what needs your immediate attention and what can be attended to later.

Other benefits include:

  • Prioritize Your Inbox: You can organize your inbox for Gmail by labeling emails as "Urgent" or "To-Do," ensuring that essential messages don't get buried in the digital avalanche.
  • Streamline Searching: Finding specific emails is a breeze with labels. Rather than scrolling endlessly, you can type a label's name in Gmail's search bar, and voila! All labeled emails are at your fingertips.
  • Categorize with Precision: Labels let you group emails according to various criteria, such as projects, clients, or personal vs. professional. You can create as many labels as you want, edit labels, and manage Gmail labels to organize your emails more precisely.
  • Stay Organized: With nested labels (which we'll talk about later), you can create hierarchies, further refining your organization. For instance, your "Work" label can have nested labels for different projects, clients, or departments.

Creating Gmail Labels

Creating Gmail labels is a straightforward process. To create labels in Gmail:

  1. Go to Gmail on your computer.
  2. Scroll down on the left and click "More."
  3. Click "Create new label."
  4. Name your label.
  5. Click "Create."

Adding Labels to Emails

Now that you have your labels, adding them to emails is essential for effective organization. Here's how you can add multiple labels to your emails:

Label messages in your inbox

  1. Go to Gmail on your computer.
  2. Select the messages you want to label.
  3. Click "Labels" at the top.
  4. Select a label or create a new one.

Label a message you're writing

  1. Click "Compose" in Gmail.
  2. In the bottom right, click "More."
  3. Click "Label" and select labels.
  4. Click "Apply."

On Android

Labeling on Android is just as easy:

Add a label to a message

  1. Open the Gmail app on your Android device.
  2. Open a message and tap "More."
  3. Tap "Change labels" to add or remove labels.

Add labels to multiple messages

  1. Open the Gmail app on your Android device.
  2. Touch and hold a message.
  3. Select other messages.
  4. Tap "More" and then "Change labels."

Moving Emails to Labels

When you add a label, the email stays in your primary inbox. When you move it, the email won't appear in your primary inbox.

Here's how you can move an email to a label:

On Your PC

  1. Go to Gmail.
  2. Select the message.
  3. At the top, click Labels.
  4. Uncheck the current label, then select a new one.
  5. Click Apply.

On Android

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. Open the email or select it in your inbox.
  3. Tap More, then Move to.
  4. Choose the label you want.

Using Nested Labels

Nested labels in Gmail are like creating folders within folders, helping you organize your emails in a more detailed and structured way. They make it easier to manage lots of emails without making your label list messy.

Think of parent labels as the main folders or categories. They are the top-level labels that provide a general umbrella for related content.

Let's say you run a photography business. Your parent label could be "Photography Projects." Nested under this parent label, you can have sub-labels like "Client A," "Client B," and "Personal Projects."

If you go into the nested label "Client A," you might find even more specific labels for each photo shoot, creating a clear structure that mirrors your actual workflow.

To create nested labels:

  1. Locate the label on the left side panel.
  2. Hover over the label, and three dots will appear.
  3. Click on the three dots to reveal more options for this label.
  4. Choose "Add sublabel."
  5. Enter the sublabel details and click "Create."

Removing Labels from Emails

If a label is no longer valid or you've made a mistake, removing it is straightforward:

  1. Open the email.
  2. Click on the tag icon.
  3. Uncheck the label(s) you want to stop using.
  4. Alternatively, click the 'X' next to the label name.

Color-Coding Your Labels

When you apply a color to a label, all emails categorized under that label will be highlighted in that specific color.

This simple visual cue helps you quickly recognize and mentally categorize different types of emails without even reading their content.

Let's say you have labels for "Work," "Personal," and "Projects." You might assign the color blue to work-related labels, green to personal ones, and orange to projects.

Now, when you glance at your inbox, you immediately know the nature of each email based on its color. It's like having a traffic light system for your emails.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Hover over the label in the left pane.
  2. Click the three dots.
  3. Navigate to Label color and choose a color.
  4. Optionally, create a custom color.

Deleting Labels

Deleting labels is a simple process:

  1. Locate the label on the left sidebar.
  2. Click the three dots.
  3. Choose "Remove label."

Remember, removing a label keeps the emails in the All Mail label, as All Mail is also a label.

Merging Gmail Labels

Merging labels involves combining two or more existing labels into a single, unified label. Instead of having scattered labels for similar topics, merging allows you to streamline and declutter your labeling system.

Here's how to merge an existing label with another label:

  1. Open one label to be merged.
  2. Select all emails.
  3. Click on the Label icon.
  4. Uncheck the current label and choose the new one.
  5. Click Apply.

Automating Labeling in Gmail

Gmail doesn't just stop at manual labeling, it also offers a nifty feature to make your life easier: automatic labeling.

The email client achieves automation through the creation of filters. These filters act as a set of rules that, when met, trigger the automatic application of labels.

For example, if you want emails from a specific client to be labeled as "Client A," you can create a filter that recognizes the client's email address and automatically applies the corresponding label.

Once set up, automated labeling ensures that relevant emails are neatly categorized without requiring your intervention.

This not only declutters your inbox but also ensures that important messages are readily accessible when you need them.

To set up filters:

  1. Open Gmail settings (the gear icon).
  2. Click "See All Settings."
  3. Go to "Filters and Blocked Addresses" and pick "Create a New Filter."
  4. Decide the conditions (like who sent it or what's in the subject).
  5. Choose what Gmail should do (like applying a label).
  6. Click "Create Filter."

Gmail Labels: The Downsides

Let's face it, Gmail wasn't designed for email productivity. It excels at delivering email messages but falls short in managing the mess of emails flooding our inboxes. There are methods to improve your Gmail productivity, but the software was not built for speed.

So, while slapping on Gmail labels might seem like a quick fix, it's like putting a band-aid on a bigger problem of email chaos and subpar email habits.

Here's where they fall short:

  • Labeling emails that you only need for a short time may clutter your label list unnecessarily.
  • Simplicity is key, and creating too many labels might overcomplicate things for those who prefer a minimalist approach.
  • If you're committed to the Inbox Zero philosophy and prefer a consistently empty inbox, labels might not align with your strategy.
  • Labels are primarily designed for personal email organization, making them less effective for managing teams or shared inboxes.
  • Create too many labels, and you might find yourself lost in a complex, cluttered label list, making finding emails feel like a treasure hunt.
  • In cases where you only need simple organization, creating labels may be overkill.

That said, you need a comprehensive solution that covers all the bases, helping you streamline your email chores, save time, and reduce email-related anxiety. Tatem can be this solution to deal with email overload, and we'll explain how below:

Tatem: The Better Alternative

Tatem is a productivity email client designed for speed and convenience, connecting seamlessly with your email service provider to help you breeze through your inbox.

Instead of merely labeling your Gmail labels, Tatem takes email organization a step further. It features a customizable split inbox, allowing you to sort emails into different categories—an inbox for newsletters, another for subscriptions, and a primary inbox for urgent messages.

Setting rules ensures incoming emails are automatically sorted into their specific inbox.

The best part? Tatem's AI is constantly learning from you, performing various tasks without your intervention. From email sorting to smart labeling, text correction, and even drafting entire replies in your voice or any specified tone, Tatem simplifies your email experience.

Among the benefits are:

  • Tired of waiting for your inbox to load? Tatem eliminates the frustration with reduced loading and interaction lag. Experience seamless interactions, ensuring your email management is swift and efficient.
  • Tatem offers a range of keyboards and shortcuts that transform the way you search through your emails. Quickly locate what you need, saving you valuable time and effort.
  • Tired of sifting through countless emails? Tatem's smart search feature allows you to find specific emails based on keywords. No more scrolling, just pinpoint accuracy in locating the information you seek.
  • With features like multi-select, quick preview, and bulk commands, your email management becomes intuitive and seamless. No more wrestling with complicated tools.
  • Tatem ensures your information is treated with the utmost care. Unlike some platforms, your data is not stored in any database, providing you with peace of mind regarding your privacy.
  • You can make Tatem your own. Whether you prefer a sleek dark mode, vibrant wallpapers, or custom themes, personalize your email experience to match your style. Enjoy an inbox that reflects your personality.

Ready to transform your email experience? Sign up today