How to Sort Your Gmail Inbox by Sender, Subject, and Label
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Gmail is a great tool, but it falls short in terms of offering intuitive ways of sorting your inbox. Fortunately, there are easy workarounds that give you more control over finding messages. We’ll go over several of them below.

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1. View All Messages From a Recent Sender

There are several tricks that help you see all email received from a particular person.

One works best if you’ve got an email from that individual recently. However, you can use it anytime you’re in your inbox.

Go to your inbox and hover the mouse over the sender’s name on a particular email. It’s on the left side of the subject line. Then, wait for the popup box to appear.

sort gmail inbox

At the bottom of it, you’ll see a gray link that says Emails. Click on it to pull up a complete list of all the messages that person sent you.

Don’t see the desired sender immediately visible in your inbox? No problem. Type the person’s name or email address into the Gmail search box first. It’s at the top of the screen and has a blue magnifying glass button to the right of it. Then, click on any of the messages retrieved by the search. Put your cursor over the name and go through the same process you just learned.

2. View Messages From Any Sender

You can also get results without knowing the person’s name. Refer back to Google’s search bar and notice the small downward-facing triangle on the right-hand side.

Holding your mouse pointer on it displays a box that reads Show Search Options.

sort gmail inbox

After clicking on the triangle, you’ll see a box offering various ways to locate messages.

sort gmail inbox

You can specify parameters to find emails that include or do not have certain words. That option finds them in whole emails, not just the subjects. Filtering the results to only include messages with attachments is another option.

Play around with the capabilities of the search box and become familiar with them. There are also ways to find messages that arrived within a number of days from a date. Depend on those features to determine the name of your sender, if it’s someone you don’t know well and whose name you’ve maybe forgotten. Then, use the person’s Emails link to generate a message list.

If you’d prefer not to use the search options, there’s another method to try.

sort gmail inbox

Like Google, Gmail recognizes advanced search operators. Type “to:bob” in the main search bar without including quotation marks. That action finds all emails you sent to people named Bob.

3. Sort Your Messages by Subject

Perhaps you need to find all the emails people have sent you about an upcoming family reunion. Go back to Google’s search bar and bring up the additional search options. One of the boxes allows searching by subject.

As you’ll recall from the previous tips, it’s also possible to use word-based search terms. Get-together, gathering, and event are just some of the things a person might call the occasion. Make sure you don’t miss pertinent emails and enter all potential descriptors. Separate them with commas.

sort gmail inbox

Next, turn your attention to the dropdown list at the top of the additional search options. The default setting searches through all your emails. However, you might feel that’s too broad.

If so, change it to anything you want. The choices include all Gmail’s default folders, as well as any labels you’ve made.

sort gmail inbox

What if someone tells you they sent a message, but you don’t see it in the inbox? Switch the dropdown menu to Spam or Trash. Then, if the email got misinterpreted as junk mail or you deleted it, it’s not lost.

4. Look for Messages With Particular Labels

In the last section, we briefly brought up labels. If you’re not familiar with labels, think of them as folders within Gmail Rediscover Gmail Labels and Finally Tame Your Inbox 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 . Well, it’s possible to sort your inbox with them, too. Gmail offers many labeling options.

Apply Labels to Emails

One method involves clicking on any message in the inbox. After selecting it, look at the top of the Gmail interface to see the platforms graphical buttons. Choose the one with the tag-like image. That’s Gmail’s label button. Clicking it brings up a list of all previously made labels.

sort gmail inbox

You can also label several messages simultaneously by selecting their respective checkboxes (you can also do something similar to delete messages How to Delete Old Gmail Messages in Bulk Using Filters How to Delete Old Gmail Messages in Bulk Using Filters If your inbox is full and cluttered, you may want to look into deleting old messages in bulk -- by using filters that let you pick and choose which emails should be deleted. Read More ).

Do that just before clicking the label button on the top of Gmail’s interface. You can also label a message after clicking into it instead of from the main inbox.

sort gmail inbox

Sort Emails by Labels

Now that we’ve gone over applying labels, let’s apply that knowledge to email sorting, courtesy of labels.

sort gmail inbox

It’s very easy to do: just click the label tag either in the email itself (shown above) or in the sidebar of your inbox (shown below).

sort gmail inbox

5. Automatically Apply Labels to Sent Messages

As you’ve seen here, applying a label is a fast and straightforward process. However, it’s one more thing to remember while keeping tabs on your inbox. If you’re a perpetually busy person, you might prefer not to take that step.

A free app, with available premium plans, called Gmelius automatically puts labels on sent messages.

sort gmail inbox gmelius

After downloading the app, open its dashboard and find the Productivity tab. Then, look for the Send and add Labels option. Apply that option and reload your inbox. Then, check out the label icon next to the app’s send button. It looks like a small ribbon and indicates you’ve enabled auto-labeling.

To see how Gmelius works, send a message through Gmelius. Clicking the send button for an email makes a labeling box appear. Scroll through the list to choose one or use the convenient search box. Then, click the Label and Send option at the bottom.

If you end up giving Gmelius a try, it has several ways to personalize your inbox. They don’t relate to sorting messages but include other helpful possibilities. Since you know how to sort your inbox, why not do even more with this feature-rich app?

Download: Gmelius | Chrome | Safari (Limited free with annual plans starting at $5/mo)

What’s Your Preferred Way to Sort Your Messages?

Sorting your Gmail inbox How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook 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 isn’t as straightforward as some users expect.

However, making the tips you’ve just discovered part of your everyday routine isn’t difficult. For more, check out how to chop down your giant email inbox How to Chop Down a 20,000 Email Inbox to Zero in 30 Minutes How to Chop Down a 20,000 Email Inbox to Zero in 30 Minutes The Gmail inbox can grow to be a beast. These tips will help you reach inbox zero in six simple steps. Read More .

Which will you use most? How do you prefer to sort the messages in your Inbox? Tell us in the comments section below.

Explore more about: Email Tips, Gmail, Google Search.

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  1. annoyed
    September 14, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Unbelievable! #1 No longer works. What does Gmail have invested in NOT allowing users to sort by sender??

  2. Mary Meyer
    September 11, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    This is all fine, but we're busy. Why don't they have a function like very other email service that allows me to click on the name and sort or click on the subject and sort or click on the attachment and sort. I had that I'm stuck with this email written by people who are trying to tell us that we don't need sort because their search function is so superior! If I could I wouldn't touch any google products.

  3. J Cox
    July 26, 2018 at 2:08 am

    This, and every other article that tries to address this often-requested feature, assumes that EVERYONE asking for a way to SORT their inbox is too stupid to use a search bar.
    ME: Can I sort the messages in my inbox alphabetically by sender?
    HELP: Aww, you're obviously trying (so hard!) to locate one single email; what else could you possibly want to do? But sorting emails.... you don't need to do that, silly! You'll make a mess.
    Since you know the exact name of the sender (out of the hundreds in your inbox, gosh! so many!), you can just type the sender's "name" in the search bar. Then, you move the little magic arrow until it's on top of the "spyglass" (on the screen)... then press on the button (you will hear a "click") ... and presto! THERE it is, that thing you were asking about! Wasn't this helpful?
    ME: I hope your next sh¡t is square.

    • MakeUseOfWentDownTheToilet
      September 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Came here to say *this*

  4. Glenn Lake
    May 11, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    This is typical of MakeUseOf posts lately. Notice all the "clickbate" that is on every article. Also notice that this was written over 7 months ago. You would think someone as high up in status as Kayla Matthews, a senior writer at MakeUseOf would have someone actually read an article and see if it were even useful.

  5. Joe Blow
    April 29, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Apparently you have no clue what SORT means, and that it has NOTHING to do with SEARCH. Please learn a minimum kindergarten level of knowledge about basic computer concepts before trying to write a write an article.

    • DMS
      October 1, 2018 at 2:43 am

      Exactly!

  6. tim cawley
    April 16, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    SORT. Not Search. SORT. We want to SORT the inbox. In the order of our chosing. And G-Mail seems incapable of that. Yuck.

    • David
      April 20, 2018 at 7:01 am

      Totally agree!

    • ray allen
      April 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      I agree. Google does not seem to understand that you can't search for something if you're unsure of what to search for. That is why it's easier to find an email that you need by sorting.

      Google 'tech support' has also told me to do wildcard searches, but again, that implies that you know almost exactly what you are searching for.

      Knowing what I do now, I would have chosen a Microsoft webmail account for my job hunting email address because Microsoft allows you to sort your inbox.

  7. Jim Landfield
    March 13, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I use labels. But I need to be able to search for a criteria and then sort the results.

    For example# 1: The emails I need to work with today are labeled for today and for the week - label:2-due---by-day-and-week-3tuesday label:2-due---by-day-and-week-week-03-11-18-week - So I can tell what I need to handle today.

    What I am missing is being able to sort. I want to sort the above search results by one or more labels.

    In example #1, there are other labels. Like a client email label or a personal email label. I want to group all the search results by the personal label.

    How do I do that?

  8. Milagros Curutan
    January 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    It depends on what I am working on. I like to sort my mail by date, by sender, and by subject. In Microsoft Outlook, it is easy - I just click on the header at the top. My MS Outlook is not working for some reason and I am trying to use GMail instead. It is not as easy as using MS Outlook. I am going through the instructions above to see if I can get it going. It is very frustrating.

  9. Vyas
    January 19, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Want to sort all my gmail by the sender. How to do it? This is for the purpose of cleaning up all spam and unwanted.

    • DMS
      October 1, 2018 at 2:45 am

      Yes, that is exactly what I do - sorting (NOT SEARCHING) is the easiest way to clean up my mailbox.

  10. adam smith
    December 8, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Those are kind of useless tips since you have to know what you're looking for. If you just want to sort your emails by name and you don't know the name you're looking for, like say to sort spam messages by sender, these tips are useless. Especially since spammers send the same ad from thousands of different email addresses. Even if you set up labels it's going to take forever. I have no idea why they left this option out of gmail.

  11. dragonmouth
    October 3, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Back in the days when I had AT&T WordlNet, I've gotten used to sorting my emails by sender and/or subject. At work I used MS Exchange. Unfortunately GMail is not as advanced as either one of those. Google prefers to "upgrade" GMail with glitz and eye-candy rather than real-world features.

    • Erle S Bowman
      February 1, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      Ain't that the truth.....