How To Set Up Email Filters In Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo

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Setting up email filters or organising your emails into folders is an efficient way to manage your emails. You might want to know how to set up email filters to automatically sort your email into folders for better management.

For example, you may want to have a Facebook filter to separate all your notifications emails from your everyday emails. You could also do this for newsletters that you are subscribed to, emails from family members, or emails related to work. It’s also a great tool to automatically trash or mark certain emails as spam. As you can see, there are a lot of advantages for filtering your emails.

So how do you set them up? Well, I am going to show you how to set up email filters in Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, and point you in the right direction on how to set them up in Thunderbird and Outlook.

Creating Filters in Gmail

The first thing to point out is that Gmail does not use the tradition “˜folder’ structure. Gmail uses “˜labels’, but they are pretty much the same thing, it just has a different name.

To setup an email filter, click on Settings which is in the top right corner, then click on Filters. If you already have filters setup, they will be displayed. As you can see, my first filter sends all my emails apart from Facebook emails to another email account so I can access them on my mobile phone.

The second filter deletes all my Buzz notifications, or anything with Buzz in the subject.

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how to set up email filters

So to create a filter, simply click on Create a new filter.

You will then be prompted to provide criteria to base the filter on. From the image below, you can base the filter on the following search criteria:

  • From: Who the email is from. This can be an email address or a phrase in the email address such as makeuseof. If you include makeuseof in the From box, all emails that are from a MakeUseOf email address will be applied to the filter.
  • To: You may have email forwarding or POP access set up on your Gmail account so all your work emails get sent to your personal Gmail account. Therefore, if you want to separate your work emails from personal emails, enter your work email address in the To box. All emails you receive that are sent to the email address you specify, the filter will apply.
  • Subject: If you enter a phrase in the Subject, any emails with that phrase in the subject would be apply.
  • Has the words: If the contents of the email has the words you specify, the filter will apply.
  • Doesn’t have: All emails that do not contain the following phrase you specify, the filter will apply.
  • Has attachment: All emails with a file attached.

how to set up email filters

Depending on what you want to filter depends on what you enter. In this example, I am going to create a filter to to move all my Facebook emails in to a folder/label. To do this, I am going to enter Facebook into the From box. The reason why I am using Facebook and not is because not all emails are from the domain name, some are from So by just typing in Facebook, I will capture all emails from Facebook, including emails from another domain name that has the phrase Facebook in it.

If you want, you can test the search to ensure it works by clicking on Test Search. If you are happy with the results, click Next Step.

Now I am going to tell Gmail what to do with the emails it filters. I am going to select Apply the label: Facebook because I want all my Facebook emails to go into a Facebook label. If you don’t have a Facebook label, make sure you create it when you select the label in the drop down box. Make sure Apply the label is also checked.

how to set up email filters gmail

Then all you have to do is click on Create Filter. If you want the filter to sort your current emails, make sure you tick the Also apply filter to xx conversations below checkbox.

Congratulations, you have successfully created your Gmail filter.

Create An Email Filter In Hotmail

Login to your Hotmail account. In the top right hand corner, click on Options, then select More Options. Under Customise your mail, select Automatically sort e-mail into folders, then click on New Filter.

how do email filters work

Similar to Gmail, enter your filter criteria. In this example, I am going to have a filter that moves all my emails from MakeUseOf into a MakeUseOf Folder. By having, any emails received from a MakeUseOf email address will be moved into the MakeUseOf folder I created.

Once you are done with your filter, hit Save.

Setup An Email Filter in Yahoo

As like Hotmail, click on Options and More Options which is in the top right corner of the screen. On the left hand side, select Filters. To create your filter, on the top bar, select Add Filter. Everything should be self explanatory and very similar to Gmail and Hotmail.

how do email filters work

As I contribute to MakeUseOf Answers regularly, I get a lot of email notification of replies. As you may be aware, the subject of the replies begins with [makeuseofanswers]. So I am going to setup a filter to move these emails into a MakeUseOf Answers folder. I won’t use the sender as a filter criteria because it won’t work. As the comment system uses Disqus, I don’t want to have comments from other blogs in my MakeUseOf Answers folder.

To apply the correct filter, in Subject section, I am going to select begins with in the drop down box and type [makeuseofanswers] as this will filter my email’s appropriately.

Other Clients

If you are using Thunderbird to manage your email’s, Tina has a great article on how you can setup filters.

If you use Microsoft Outlook, you may want to read this article and this article to organise your emails into folders.

So hopefully, you now have an understanding on how to organise your emails more efficiently. Remember, when creating a filter, you need to ensure that the emails you are filtering have a unique but common occurrence such as a specific email address, subject, or a phrase in the email contents. If it doesn’t, other emails may get caught in the filter which you don’t want to happen.

Did this article help you get started with the filters feature? Have you used it before? Any tips of your own? Voice them out in the comments.

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