If you're using an old version of Gmail, your Inbox may look a little different.


Gmail: Signatures, Labels, and Filters

Set Up Your Email:

Signatures, labels, & filters

Create an email signature

1. Open Gmail.

2. In the upper-right corner of the Mail window, click Settings.

3. On the General page, in the Signature section, enter your signature in the box.

4. Optionally use the options to format the text and add links and images.

5. Click Save at the bottom of the page.

Note: You can set up only one signature.

Create and apply email labels

Using labels

Labels help you organize your messages into categories -- work, family, to do, read later, jokes, recipes, any category you want. Labels do all the work that folders do, but with an added bonus: you can add more than one to a message.

Only you can see your labels, so whether you mark a message with "Best friend" or "Read later," the sender will never know.

Create a label

Here's how to create a label that you can add to any of your messages:
  1. On the left side of the page, click More at the bottom of your labels list. (If you don't see "More," grab the gray dividing line with your cursor and drag it down to show more labels.)
  2. Click Create new label.
  3. Type the name of your new label and click Create.

You can also create a new label for a message in your Inbox by selecting the box next to the message, clicking the Labelbutton above your message list, and then clicking Create new.

Apply your label

You can add a label to your messages in several ways:
  • When viewing your Inbox, select the checkbox next to those messages, click the Labels  button, and click the label you want. (Or check the boxes next to several labels and click Apply.)
  • When viewing a message, click the Labels button to add a label to the message. You can also click and drag a label from the left side, and drop it on the message.
  • When writing a new message, click More options drop-down arrow More options in the bottom right corner of the compose window, click Label, and then select one of your labels.

Changing label colors

To change the color of a label:

  1. On the left side of the Gmail page, click the square to the right of a label.
  2. Note: If you don't have any labels yet, first create a label to see the options above.

  3. Select a color from the palette that appears. Changes will be instantly reflected in Gmail.

    You may also customize colors for your labels by clicking on the square to the right of a label and selecting Add custom color.

You can remove a color by selecting Remove color at the bottom of the color palette.

Create email filters

Filters are a great way to automatically manage similar types of messages that you always deal with the same way. For example, if you always label messages from your manager so they stand out visually in your Inbox, you can have a filter apply the label for you. If you want all messages containing people’s status reports to skip your Inbox and go directly to a Status Report label, a filter can do that, too.

Filters can apply any number of different actions to incoming messages, based on any combination of criteria. And the great news is, they’re really easy to create! In this tip, we'll create a filter that applies a Finance label to all messages from your accountant that contain a budget report attachment.

Step 1. Define which messages to filter

To begin, you need to define the messages you want to filter. You do this by selecting one or more criteria, just as if you were performing an advanced search. In fact, it’s so much like creating a search, that you use the Search box to do it!

1. Click the small down arrow at the far right of the Search bar to open the Search box.

2. Select one or more criteria that define which messages to filter.

3. Click the Create filter with this search link.

Gmail then filters all messages that meet all the criteria you select. That is, the criteria are linked together with an implicit “AND.” The more fields you select, the more focused your filter will be. In the example above, Gmail interprets the filter as: Watch for all messages from “ben@cloudeasel.com” (AND) where the word “budget” appears in the Subject line (AND) where the word “report” appears anywhere in the message (AND) if it has an attachment. When Gmail receives a message that meets all four of these criteria, it will perform one or more actions on that message. Which actions? That’s what we’re going to define next! 

Step 2. Define what actions to take on filtered messages

Clicking the Create filter with this search link does two things: First, it finds any existing messages that meet the criteria you just defined. It also opens another screen where you can define one or more actions to take on these messages. For example, you could have the message skip the Inbox and go immediately to the Finance label. You could mark it as important and add a star. Or you could make sure it’s never accidentally marked as Spam.


Our example is quite simple. We just want to apply the Finance label to these messages so they show up more clearly in our Inbox. To do this:

  1.  Select one or more of the available options. 
In our case, we select Apply the label and choose the Finance label.
  1.  Optionally, apply the filter to the five existing messages that already meet our filter’s criteria. 
  2.  Click Create filter. 

Your filter at work 

With the filter created, new messages from Ben Brown that have the word “budget” in the Subject, “report” in the body, and any kind of attachment, automatically display in your Inbox with the Finance label.

Tip: Select a color for the label to make it show up even more prominently!

Manage your filters in Gmail Settings

If you later want to see all your filters, change a filter’s criteria, or delete a filter, open your Gmail Settings from the Gear menu (1). Then go to the Filters tab (2) to edit or delete a filter. (You can create a new filter here, too.)