How to Create Folders in Gmail

Without knowing how to create folders in Gmail, it’s very difficult to keep your emails organized and prevent them from piling up. If you have yet to master the art of creating folders in Gmail or you just want to brush up on your email organization skills, this article is for you.

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Gmail Labels vs Folders

All Gmail users sooner or later discover that Gmail doesn’t have traditional folders like many other email clients, including Microsoft Outlook, do. In a folder-based email client, one email message can belong to exactly one folder.

As such, folders in email clients mimic the behavior of real-life document folders. When you add a sheet of paper to a document folder, you can’t add it to another folder without printing an additional copy. However, there are many reasons why you might want to add the same email to multiple folders, and that’s where labels come in.

The most important difference between Gmail labels and Gmail folders is that a single email message can have multiple labels. For example, if you assign the labels “Personal” and “Wedding” to an email message, the message will appear in both “Personal” and “Wedding.”

One thing to keep in mind is that Gmail automatically assigns the label “Inbox” to each email message you receive. When you click on the Gmail inbox folder, you’re really just telling Gmail to list all email messages with the label “Inbox.”

Because Gmail labels are really just folders on steroids, we use the terms label and folder interchangeably when we explain how to create folders in Gmail in the next section of this article.

How to Add Folders in Gmail

If you’ve never created a folder in Gmail before, don’t worry. Learning how to make folders in Gmail is very easy:

  1. Open Gmail in your favorite web browser by going to https://www.gmail.com.
    • You might be asked to log in. If so, enter your email address and password.
  2. Select an email by clicking on the checkbox to the left of it.
    • The reason why you have to first select an email is that you can’t create a blank label. This is the reason why many people struggle to figure out how to add labels in Gmail.
  3. With an email message selected, click on the label icon located right below the search bar. The label icon looks like an arrow pointing to the right.

How to create folders in Gmail

  1. A drop-down menu will appear. Click the “Create new” button located near the bottom.

How to add folders and labels in Gmail

  1. Enter a new label name.
    • You can nest the new label inside of another label, which is the Gmail equivalent of placing a folder inside of another folder.
  1. When you’re done, click the “Create” button.
    • The new label will automatically be assigned to the email you’ve selected.

All your labels are listed in the menu on the left, but you might have to click the “More” button to see them all. To display all emails with a specific label, simply click on the corresponding label. When you select an email with a label, you will see a new icon below the search bar: a crossed arrow facing to the right. By clicking on this icon, you can remove a label from an email or even multiple emails at the same time.

Keep in mind that the list of labels on the left can display up to 500 labels. If you have more labels than that, you won't be able to see them all unless you created nested labels.

How to Create Folders in Gmail App

The good news is that it’s just as easy to learn how to add folders in Gmail app as it is on the website:

  1. Open the Gmail app on your smartphone.
    • Most Android smartphones come with Gmail pre-installed, so you probably won’t need to download it from the Play Store if you’re an Android user.
  2. Open an email message or select multiple emails.
  3. Tap the hamburger button (consisting of three horizontal bars) located in the top-left corner of the screen. A pop-out menu will appear.
  4. Tap “Change labels” and add a new label.
  5. Tap OK.

How to Move a Message to Another Label

If you ever decide to change the way you organize your emails and come up with new labels, you don’t have to painstakingly remove all existing labels from email messages and then assign new ones. You can simply move messages to another label:

  1. Open Gmail in your favorite web browser by going to https://www.gmail.com.
    • You might be asked to log in. If so, enter your email address and password.
  2. With an email message selected, click on the label icon located right below the search bar. The label icon looks like an arrow pointing to the right.
  3. Uncheck the current label, then select a new one.
  4. Click Apply.

You can also move messages to another label in Gmail app by tapping the hamburger button, selecting “Move to,” and then choosing the label you want to move the email to.

How to Rename Folders in Gmail

Have you ever created a folder (or label to use Gmail’s terminology) with a typo in it and noticed only after you’ve assigned multiple email messages to it? Well, you don’t have to live with your mistake forever because Gmail makes it pretty easy to rename labels:

  1. Go to Gmail on your computer.
  2. You should see a list of labels on the left side of the page. Move the mouse cursor over the label you want to rename.
  3. Click the three vertical dots.
  4. Select the Edit option.
  5. Rename the label and click Save.

You can also rename labels in Gmail from Settings:

  1. Click the cog wheel in the upper right corner of the page.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Go to Labels.
  4. Edit the label.
    • Be careful not to click Remove, which is right next to Edit.
  5. Make your changes and click Save.

How to Remove Labels in Gmail

When you remove a label in Gmail, you don't delete the emails you've assigned it to, which is one difference between labels and folders. To remove labels in Gmail:

  1. Go to Gmail on your computer.
  2. You should see a list of labels on the left side of the page. Move the mouse cursor over the label you want to rename.
  3. Click the three vertical dots.
  4. Select the Remove label option.
  5. Gmail will tell you the number of email messages the label is assigned to and ask you confirm your decision to remove it. Click Delete.

If you would like to delete not just the label but also the emails that carry it, follow these instructions instead:

  1. Go to Gmail on your computer.
  2. Select the label from the list of labels on the left side of the page.
  3. Use the checkbox button from the top toolbar to select all emails.
  4. Click the Delete button to move all emails to Trash.
  5. Follow the instructions above to delete the label itself (which should now be empty).

How to Create Nested Labels in Gmail

Nested labels are like folders within folders, and they can save you a lot of time if your email management strategy relies heavily on labels.

Let’s say you like to label emails from a colleague named Thomas with two labels: Work and Thomas. The two labels allow you to separate emails sent by Thomas from emails sent by Dan, which you assign the following two labels: Work and Dan. Since both Thomas and Dan are your work colleagues, it makes sense to nest the labels Thomas and Dan under the label Work so that the label Work is included automatically every time you use the labels Thomas and Dan.

Follow these steps to create nested labels in Gmail:

  1. Click the cog wheel in the upper right corner of the page.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Go to Labels.
  4. Select Create new label.
  5. Name the new label and click on the checkbox next to the Nest label under option.
  6. Select which label you want to nest the new label under and click Create.

How to Hide Labels in Gmail

Just like your inbox, you should keep your labels organized and tidy. If there are some labels you rarely use, you can hide them from view by following the steps below. When you hide a label, it disappears from the list of labels in the panel on the left, but it remains assigned to emails so that you can still use it to easily find them.

  1. Click the cog wheel in the upper right corner of the page.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Go to Labels.
  4. Click on the Hide option next to each label you want to hide.

Smarter Folder Management with Clean Email

Traditional folders and even more modern labels can get you only so far when it comes to email management. To prevent email overload and achieve Inbox Zero, you need a smart email management tool like Clean Email.

Clean Email can do something no email client can: it automatically groups related emails into easy-to-review bundles, called Smart Views, allowing you to clean up your inbox with just a few clicks. Clean Email does this without accessing the actual content of your emails or attachments, so there’s absolutely no reason to be concerned about your privacy.

How to find folders and labels in Clean Email

Think of Smart Views as intelligent folders that remove the burden of manual email management from your shoulders, allowing you to be more productive. With Smart Views, you can group emails by their category, such as "Travel", "Finance", "Social notifications", "Subscriptions and Newsletters", and so on.

If you’ve been neglecting email management for some time now and find it difficult to get yourself organized even with the help of Smart Views, you can use the Quick Clean feature to instantly find and group all emails that Clean Email users clean on a regular basis and get rid of them with a simple click.

You can even instruct Clean Email to apply selected actions automatically to new emails, which means that you can easily end the ongoing struggle that is email management. You can get started with Clean Email for free, and it works not only with Gmail but also with Outlook, Yahoo, iCloud, Office 365, Fastmail, and other email services.

Conclusion

Knowing how to create labels in Gmail is the first step toward bullet-proof email management. Thanks to smart email management tools like Clean Email, you can say goodbye to manual email organization by embracing automation features that let you apply any action to new emails automatically.

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