10 Email Problems You Can Solve with Gmail Filters

Mihir Patkar 30-06-2016

An overflowing inbox is a common problem for everyone. It almost seems like those emails come in at a faster rate than we can take action on them. As with most things in life, it’s best to automate a few tasks than put the burden on yourself. That’s what Gmail’s filters are for.


We’ve shown you how to set up filters in Gmail How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook Email filtering is your best tool in keeping your inbox neat and organized. Here's how to set up and use email filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook. Read More and other email services, and the process is still more or less the same. Gmail has made it slightly easier now. You see that big search bar at the top? Click the little drop-down arrow, and you’ll find this box:


Fill in the fields with whatever data you want to sort your inbox. At the bottom, click “Create a filter with this search” to get a new box:


Tell Gmail what action you want it to take when it filters an email based on your criteria, and just like that, you’ll be sorting through your inbox faster than ever. Don’t believe it? Try some of these brilliant Gmail filters 4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email Decluttering and organizing your Gmail inbox is a daily chore. There is a smarter way to do it. Create four basic types of filters in Gmail to sort your emails right automatically. Read More to see the difference.


Many of the nifty filters we suggested 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox What filters should each and every person have in their arsenal so that their inbox is as orderly as mine? I'm here to help you get started in setting up your first five filters, or... Read More earlier have been made redundant by Gmail’s new tabs for Social, Priority, etc. But there are plenty of other ways that filters can solve your email problems.

Easy Way to Follow Up

When you don’t get a reply from someone, don’t overreact; just follow up Why Following Up On Email Is Important (Or How I Overreacted When Someone Didn't) Following up on emails is the proper thing to do. Backing up your claims is the proper thing to do. I thought I should share my experience with you as someone who was on the... Read More . But in the course of work, you’ll have so many messages where you need to follow up with someone that you’re bound to forget. There are services to automatically follow up without installing anything, but remembering how to use them is a bit difficult. So create a simple filter to solve your problems.


You probably know the old trick of creating a Gmail alias Divide & Conquer Your Email With The Power of Gmail Aliases When it comes to email organization, the immediate reaction is often all about folders, tags, filters, priority marks, and things of that sort. Not that any of those are bad - in fact, most of... Read More by adding a plus sign in your email address. Yup, that still sends the email to you. For example, “” will send the email to “”. Now, create a new filter with the following:


Has the words: (Replace “mihir” with your own email address)

Select Skip the inbox (Archive It)

Select Apply the label: Follow Up (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Now whenever you write an email to someone where you need a reply from them, add your “followup” address (i.e. to the BCC field. It will automatically be sent to your Follow Up label, which you can check every day to see what’s pending.

Create a Personal Clipboard or Notes

With its almost unlimited storage, a lot of Gmail users send attachments, reminders, to-do lists, or notes to themselves. The Gmail tab is always open and easy to access anywhere, so it serves as a quick clipboard.


After a point, that leads to a cluttered inbox. Using the same alias trick above, you can keep your inbox clean and tidy. Have simple add-on aliases for all your tricks, and rediscover the power of Gmail labels Rediscover Gmail Labels and Finally Tame Your Inbox There are plenty of tricks to deal with email overload, but there's one right under your nose that you might not be using: good old Gmail labels. Read More to keep them organized.


For example, let’s say I sent myself a few photos from my phone, so that I can open them on my computer. I’m basically using Gmail as a clipboard. So instead of sending it to, I’ll send it to And I’ll create this filter:


Select: Apply the label: Clipboard (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Create similar aliases and labels for your to-do list, notes, and other things you often email yourself. Every month or so, check that label and you’ll find plenty of old stuff you don’t need any more, so you can purge it easily.

You might also want to select the “Has attachment” criteria to indicate files you’ve sent to yourself.

Giant Keyword List to Stop Automated Mails

Gmail’s built in spam filter is brilliant, thwarting most unwanted messages before they ever reach you. But a few still get through, like those fraud or fake emails 5 Examples To Help You Spot A Fraud Or Fake Email The shift from spam to phishing attacks is noticeable, and is on the rise. If there's a single mantra to keep in mind, it's this -- the number one defense against phishing is awareness. Read More . Then there are those unsolicited emails from services you have signed up for, or the newsletters you want to check at a later time without clogging your inbox.



The good folks at marketing strategies blog Kikolani made a giant list of keywords to catch automated emails. Here’s how to create the filter:

Has the words: “to view this email as a web page, go here.”|”having trouble reading this email”|”having trouble viewing this email”|”email not displaying correctly”|”unsubscribe | change subscriber options”|”unsubscribe from this list”|”unsubscribe instantly”|”please unsubscribe”|”update subscription preferences”|”email preferences”|”follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out”|”if you would rather not receive future communications from”|”if you would like to unsubscribe”|”to ensure that you continue receiving our emails, please add us to your address book or safe list”|”safeunsubscribe”|”to unsubscribe”|”unsubscribe from these emails”|”unsubscribe from our emails”|”unsubscribe please click”|”unsubscribe from future”|”you can unsubscribe here”|”to unsubscribe or change subscriber options”|”this message was sent to” (replace with your email address)|”this email has been sent to you by”|”to opt out”|”opt out using TrueRemove”|”one-click unsubscribe”|”do not reply to this email”|”view this email in a browser”|”please do not reply to this message”|”if you no longer wish to receive our emails”|”if you do not wish to receive email from”|”no longer receive this newsletter”|”do not want to receive any newsletters”|”to remove this e-mail address from”|”removed from this mailing list”|”manage your email settings”|”edit your subscription”|”you may unsubscribe”|”you can unsubscribe”|”powered by YMLP”|”update your contact information”|”update your contact details”|”change your subscription settings”|”manage your subscription”|”manage your subscriptions”|”update Email Address or Unsubscribe”|”this email was sent by”|”this email was intended for”|”you received this email because”|”you received this e-mail because”|”you are receiving this message”|”prefer not to receive invites from”

Select: Skip the Inbox (Archive It)

Select: Apply the label: Automated (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

You could also choose to skip the label and send these directly to the Promotions category, if you use Gmail’s tabs.

Auto-Forward Bills and Finances

“Honey, did you pay the power bill this month?” Chances are, your power company sends the bill to one person in the house, but someone else needs to know about it to manage the household finances 7 Useful Excel Sheets to Instantly Improve Your Family's Budget It's not always easy to set up a family budget, but these seven templates will give you the structure you need to get started. Read More , whether it’s your roommate, your significant other, or even your accountant. Take a moment to set up auto-forwarding for all your financial information, from bills to account statements.


Unfortunately, there are no magic keywords that will get this done, so you will need to add each sender individually. What you need to know here is the “wild card” filter. When you add an asterisk, it applies to any entry in that field. For example, * will apply to any email where the sender has an “” email address.

So create the filter accordingly. Find the email for your last bill or account statement, and click the search bar:

From: *

Select: Has Attachment

Select: Apply the label: Bills (Create new if necessary)

Select: Forward it:

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

The recipient will need to accept auto-forwarded emails from you, so make sure you finish that verification process too. Most bills and bank account statements send you a PDF attachment of the bill, which is why I recommend selecting the “Has Attachment” option. If you get email bills without an attachment from any of your providers, then don’t select this option for their filter.

Track Receipts and Orders

Anything that you ordered online should go into one folder or label so it’s easy to find later when you need it. There are good apps to scan, manage, and track receipts The Best Receipt Apps for Scanning, Tracking, and Managing Bills These receipt scanner apps will help you scan, save, and organize every bill for your personal or business needs. Read More , but when they already come digitized, that’s even better!


For that, Redditor shenannagans has an excellent filter. Here’s how to create it:

Subect: “Order Receipt”|”your order”|”order confirmaton”|”your payment”|”your etsy purchase”|”my account payment processed”|”your purchase”|”your gift purchase”|”thinkgeek order”|”Your threadless order”|”order from Woot”|”your amazon order”|”Return Confirmation”|”your amazon order”|”Your package”|”Order Has Been Updated”|”UPS My Choice”|”UPS Ship Notification”|”Netrition order”|”Your payment”|”Your contribution”|”order has shipped”|”Your download”|”Your order”|”Payment scheduled”|”bill is ready”|”order confirmation”|”thanks for becoming a backer”|”you have authorized a payment”|”changed your pledge”|”successfully funded”|”you sent a payment”|” order”|”payment received”|”Purchase Confirmation”|”pledge receipt”|”Your TopatoCo Order”|”Humble Bundle order”|”your transaction”|”Package From TopatoCo”|”Your best offer has been submitted”|”Offer Retraction Notice”|”You’ve received a gift copy”|”Your Etsy Order”|”Thanks for contributing to”|”Shipping Confirmation”|”Purchase Receipt”

Select: Skip the Inbox (Archive it)

Apply the label: Orders (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Sort Non-Urgent Emails

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow to manage your inbox: If you have been BCC-ed on an email, then it doesn’t need your immediate attention. The message might still be useful, but there is no reason it should be taking up precious attention at the top of your inbox.


A BCC, of course, is a blind carbon copy. It means the sender hid your email address from all other recipients who got that email, but wanted to keep you informed about the message. Chances are, this is just an “FYI” email. So create a new filter:

Has the words:

Select: Skip the Inbox (Archive It)

Select: Apply the label: BCC (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Check these emails at your own leisure without worrying about missing an important update.

Find Large Attachments to Free Up Space

Are you running out of space? We’ve shown you some ways to free up storage on Gmail 3 Ways To Free Up Storage Space In Your Gmail Account Google Mail currently offers 7,679 MB of free storage. For the average user, that is enough space to last a lifetime. But what if you run out of storage space nevertheless? How can you find... Read More , which included the famous Find Big Mail, but there’s no need for that now.


Gmail lets you create a filter for emails with attachments that go over a certain size:

Select: Has attachment

Size: Greater than 10 MB

Select: Apply the label: 10MB (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Do this for a few file sizes (like 10MB, 20MB, 50MB, 100MB). Scan the labels from largest to smallest to ensure you won’t delete something important. And then just get rid of the unwanted remainders in one swoop.

Create Attachment Icons

You can see that pin next to an email, telling you there’s an attachment inside. But it can be helpful to know whether that’s a PDF, an Excel sheet, or an image file. Here’s where you can combine filters and labels to quickly find emails with the right attachments How to Quickly Find Messages With Attachments in Gmail Gmail and attachments are tied to one another. Find and manage all your large attachments with the help of these tips. Read More .


For example’s sake, let’s look at creating a filter for spreadsheets:

Select: Has attachment

Has the words: filename:xls OR filename:xlsx OR filename:odf

Apply the label: XLS (Create a new label if necessary)

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Once you’re done, go to the XLS label and change the color to green—which is the color for Excel in Microsoft Office. Create similar filters for DOC (blue label), PPT (orange label), PDF (red label), and so on. Your emails will be clearly marked with icon-like labels, saving you the trouble of opening them to check the attachments.

Catch Things Wrongly Marked as Spam

Sometimes, Gmail gets over-zealous and marks messages as spam even when it deserves your attention. And that can lead to embarrassing situations where someone asks if you got that mail they sent, and you have to tell them how Gmail decided they were spam.


There’s an easy way to get around this awkwardness by creating this filter:

Search: Spam

Has the words: Mihir OR MakeUseOf OR Patkar (Obviously, change these to your own name and work information)

Apply the label: Not Spam

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

Any time you see an unread number next to that label, check it out. If you get better at avoiding spam Still Getting Spam? 4 Email Mistakes to Avoid Today Avoiding spam is impossible. But there are some lesser known tips, tricks, and secrets that can help you fight the battle against suspicious email. Read More , you will also get better results from this label.

Backup All Attachments

This trick by Lifehack is the smartest thing you can do with filters. The idea is to get over the fear of deleting an important attachment in your quest to clean up your inbox, by simply backing up all such attachments.


Here’s how to make that filter:

First, make a new Gmail account for yourself, like

Select: Has Attachment

Select: Forward it to:

Select: Also apply filter to matching conversations

So any email with an attachment is automatically sent to this second account for safekeeping, in case you accidentally delete it from your primary email account.

Tell Us Your Creative Filters

Obviously, there are several other scenarios in which you can create Gmail filters for useful scenarios. The new Inbox by Gmail Google Inbox Review: A Breath Of Fresh Air Gmail is a household name in the email department, but Google wasn't content with it. Meet Google Inbox, a new way of approaching email. Read More also has drag-and-drop filters for convenience.

So tell us filters you have created that made your inbox easier to use.

Related topics: Email Tips, Gmail, Productivity.

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  1. Maru
    September 6, 2017 at 5:04 am

    for my team we use a filter to catch people's attention in an office of a million emails.

    we can "tweet" each other with

    ATJohn or similar (symbols such as @ do not work for the search unfortunately)

    So we have the filter
    email contains: ATJohn

    Apply Label: .Myname (. allows the label to appear at the top of the list as order is alphabetical)

    Then for the label, we choose "Show only if unread"

  2. Brent
    January 22, 2017 at 4:50 am

    I tried to set up the "Giant Keyword List to Stop Automated Mails" filter, but Gmail would not accept it, saying that the list of words was too long. Was anyone else able to get this to work?

  3. Hajar Rinjani Trekking
    January 12, 2017 at 2:45 am

    I have modified my gmail filter. But there is one serious problem occur that is most of my customers who use WEB MAIL listed as spam. This problem of course requires me to regularly check the SPAM folder.

  4. Pravin Kumar
    July 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Excellent one, Mihir. I am going to modify my existing filters with your tips. These are way better than my existing ones. :)

  5. Anonymous
    July 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Such articles, like this, help us not only to solve email problems, but describe the whole weak points in such course. We need to thank such authors and try to use these advice in practice.

  6. Vyasamoorthy
    July 2, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Thanks for a very very useful article. your insight into bcc messages is new to me.

    I am a member-moderator in many Google / Yahoo groups. We greet members on their birthdays. Birthday info is in relevant Google / Yahoo calendars. Birthday reminders from calendars to Gmail are received often to be forwarded in turn to concerned group. This activity and further archiving of such messages are taken care by filters.

  7. Anonymous
    July 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Doesn't a lot of filters slow down GMail? If so, at what number? 20 filters? 50? 100? 1000?

    • Pravin Kumar
      July 10, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Nice question.
      I reckon the "filtering" takes place at the server level and not at the local Device level. So, it may not slow down the mailbox. Maybe. I am not quite sure about it though. You/Somebody correct me if I am wrong about it. :)

      And even if it slows down the mailbox, it could be a couple of seconds more than the usual time. And it worth the hassles and time. Actually, these filters could save a lot more time than the extra loading time. I personally wouldn't worry about it :)


  8. Anonymous
    June 30, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I would like to create a filter that would move email that matches certain criteria directly to SPAM or designate it as SPAM. Unfortunately GMail/Google does not provide that option. All I can do is move it to TRASH.