Automatic Filters

Automatic filters are probably one of the most powerful tools in any e-mail program. When combined with labels, Gmail lets you do quite a lot with filters. To get started, simply click the check box next to one or more messages and then click the "More actions" button. Select "Filter messages like these."

Gmail will try to guess the criteria you're using, such as messages from a certain sender or messages containing a particular subject line. If the guess is wrong, you can change the criteria. Once you've got the correct criteria, click the Next Step button.

Now you choose an action. Your choices include archive (the Skip the Inbox option), star, mark as read, apply a label, forward, delete, and never flag as spam. You can select more than one action for an item, such as starring and never marking it as spam.

Next, create the filter. You can also select the check box to apply that filter to any previous messages that matched your criteria.

I use filters to automatically prioritize messages from business contacts with stars and subject labels. I declutter by archiving distracting mailing lists I may want to read later and notifications from Facebook and Twitter. I also make sure important senders never have their messages marked as spam.

NOTE: You can create an easy filter for a group or project by creating a custom e-mail address. Your Gmail address supports adding words to your address by adding them on with a + sign. For instance, you can have everyone involved with a project send messages to YourUserName+[email protected]. You can add a filter for messages sent to that specific address, and then apply the desired label.

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