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How to Keep Your Inbox (Super) Tidy With Gmail Labels

By June 8th, 2023No Comments
Gmail labels

One of the most distracting and time-consuming activities in the workplace is finding an email within an inbox. Gmail labels are the secret weapon that allows you to run your inbox on your terms. However, it does require attention to manage and continually utilize.

In this article, you are going to learn more about these Gmail rules, and how to use them alongside filters to have the tidiest inbox you have ever seen.

What are Gmail labels?

As everybody knows, we use labels as a method of categorization of almost anything that consists of attaching a tag that gives some information about it. With emails, you can do the same, to organize your inbox according to your needs. It facilitates how you visualize your inbox and how you handle your emails.

Besides, these labels work similarly to Gmail folders. Although according to Google, “labels are more flexible than folders because a given email can have several labels but can’t be in several folders at the same time”.

You can label all the emails in your inbox —the ones you send, receive, and even the drafts. Also, you can apply as many tags as you want to one email, which makes it possible to organize your email account in infinite ways, personalized to your own experience.

What is a nested label in Gmail?

Nested labels allow you to go even further in your inbox organization. They are sub-labels that go under your top-level labels.

So you can create a parent label and name it as Project and then create nested labels with the names of the people in your team, or even stages of the Project.

Notice that when you select the option “Nest label under”, this nested label must have been created before.

How to create labels in Gmail

There are three different ways to create a new label in Gmail. It’s interesting to know all of them because depending on what you are doing at the moment in your inbox, they can be handy.

  1. First, on the left side menu, scroll down until you find the button “Create new label”. You are probably going to need to click “More” to display all the options on the menu, and then locate the button. Click on it, and a pop up to create the new label will appear.create labels in Gmail
  2. If you already have some displaying emails in your inbox that you want to attribute labels, you can just select a bunch of them. When you choose emails, another toolbar appears right under the search bar. Click the tag icon, that when you hover will show the name “Labels”. A drop-down menu will appear, containing all the labels you have, and at the bottom, you will find the option to create a new label.create Gmail label
    The process is the same for when you open an email:Gmail labels
  3. On the top right of your screen, click “Settings” —represented by the gear icon. Then click the button “See all settings” and choose the tab “Labels”. Scroll down the page to find the button “Create new label”.

creating tags in Gmail

No matter which method you choose to create, Gmail will display the same pop-up, where you can type the name of your new label:

new label
How to create a nested label

To create a sub-label under the parent label you just created, click “Create new label” again. On the “New Label” pop-up, type the name of the sub-label you want to create in the “Please enter a new label name”. Select the “Nest label under” checkbox, select the parent label you created before from the drop-down list, and finally click “Create.”

On the example, we created the parent label “Project”, and a sub-label called “Budget”:

how to create nested label in Gmail
You can also create a nested label by entering the parent label, followed by a slash (/), and then entering the nested label name – all in the “… new label name” edit box. For example, we created another label “Project/Planning”, without marking the checkbox, or selecting the parent tag “Project”.

how to nest labels in Gmail
Notice that you can’t create both parent and nested labels at the same time. So, remember to create the top-level tag before the sub ones.

The hierarchy of labels will be on the left-side menu, as you can see above:

nested labels

How to turn an existing label into a sub-label

If you want to place a parent label inside a sub-label, do the following steps:

1. Click the three-dots icon next to the label’s name.

2. Click ‘Edit’ from the drop-down menu that appears next.

3. Then choose under which label it will be nested.

editing labels and sub-labels
How to add labels to an email

It’s pretty straightforward to add labels to an email. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select the email(s) you want to label;
  2. A menu will appear below the search bar, click the tag icon;
  3. A label list will appear, so you can mark down the label(s) you want to apply to your selection.
  4. Finally, click apply.

Apply labels while you’re composing an email message

You can also use Gmail labels in the new messages, while you’re writing them. This allows you to certify that these emails ant their respective replies will remain adequately organized and displayed in all the right places.

To apply a label on a composing email, just click the three-dot menu icon in the bottom left of the compose window, next to the “trash” icon. Hover the option “Label” and choose the tag you want to apply. It’s also possible to create a new label. Just scroll down and select the option “Create new”.

labels composing email

How to manage labels in Gmail

Once you have learned how to create and apply your labels, you need to know how to handle them: move, rename, delete, add colors. Everything that will help you personalize your organization even more.

Editing the label color

By default, when you create a label, its color is gray. But you can edit the color according to your needs. We highly recommend that you change the color of each one of your labels so that you can have a better visualization of your tagged emails.

So for example, if you have a label “urgent”, try to use colors like red or orange, which often brings the meaning of urgency.

To change the label color, follow these steps:

  1. On the left side menu of your Gmail inbox, find your label’s name and click the three dots next to it.
  2. Select Label color.
  3. Choose the color you would like on the label.
  4. You can customize it on the same section, and even delete it whenever you want.

how to change label colors

How to rename Gmail labels

Whenever you need to rename a label, go to the left side menu of your Gmail inbox. Then find the label’s name and click the three dots next to it. Find the option “Edit”. The same pop-up to create a tag will appear, and you can change its name and save it.

How to remove a label from an email

If you have labeled the wrong email, it’s easy to remove it:

  1. Select the email by marking the checkbox next to it.
  2. Click on the tag icon in the menu right below the search bar.
  3. Uncheck the label(s) you want to remove.

If you opened the email, you could also remove a label by merely clicking the ‘X’ button next to its name.

removing labels
How to merge Gmail labels

In case you want to unite two or more Gmail labels,  follow these steps:

1. Enter the names of the labels you want to merge in the search bar in this format’ label:name OR label: name’. For example, if the two tags you want to join are “To-Do” and “Urgent”, then it should be – ‘label:Urgent OR label: To-do’.

2. Gmail will display the results for both labels. Select all the emails.

3. Click on the tag icon, on the menu below the search bar, and create a new label.

merging labels

How to delete a Gmail label

Sometimes a label can get out of use and utility, so it’s time to delete it. To remove tags, go to Gmail settings:

  1. On the top right of your screen, click the gear icon.
  2. Then click the button “See all settings” and choose the tab “Labels”.
  3. Scroll down and find the label you want to delete, and on the section “Actions”, click “Remove”.


Gmail Labels Tips and Tricks

Using labels can help you manage your inbox in an entirely different way than you are used to. Once you learn these tips, you are going to make your life dealing with emails a lot easier.

Use labels to improve your experience in the mobile app

One of the best features from Gmail labels is the ability to decide which email notifications you get on your mobile. The best part is that you’ll prevent receiving so many distracting emails. 

To turn on notifications on your mobile app based on labels, do the following steps:

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Gmail app.
  2. In the top left, tap Menu (the three aligned bars icon).
  3. Click “Settings”.
  4. Select your account.
  5. Select “Manage Labels”.
  6. Tap one the desired label as “Important”.
  7. Then click “Sync messages”, and next select “Last 30 days or All”. You only can turn on notifications for the label if you sync the messages.
  8. At last, choose your notification settings for that label.

Unfortunately, for now, this is not available for IOs devices.

Let Gmail apply labels for you (with filters!)

To make your organization even more complete, you can associate your labels with Gmail filters. This means that instead of applying tags manually in each incoming email, you can have Gmail doing that for you automatically.

Before setting the filter, you need to consider what would make an incoming message fit into a particular label. You can use several different types of information to label them, such as:

  • The sender’s email address or domain name;
  • A specific word in the subject line;
  • A specific word in the body of the email;
  • Or even emails with an attachment;

filters and labels
For example, you can have Gmail to apply the label “Urgent” to all the emails containing the sentences “by tomorrow”, “by the end of the day”, and others similar to these, that includes an urgency tone. Or even a label “Finance” coming from a specific email address that usually sends you invoices or also your accountant’s email address. There are several use cases that filters and labels can be handy; you just need to think about what rules will facilitate managing your inbox.

We recommend that you read our complete Gmail Filters article, to learn how to set them properly:



Shared Labels for business email accounts

Labels are excellent for your personal and even your business email account. But if you are part of a team that needs to share the same account, you may need a tool that can help you improve your processes.

Nowadays, many companies need to share multiple inboxes in just one account, to keep their workflow in email organized and aligned. That’s why shared inbox solutions can provide the collaboration side that a regular Gmail account can’t offer. For instance, imagine having a sales team with ten people sharing the same email account, and each one of them creating different labels and filters. There are high chances that instead of keeping the inbox tidy, it will become even more confusing.

Drag can help teams to collaborate in a very uncomplicated way, with no need for sharing passwords. Each teammate has their email account, and inside their accounts, they can have more than one inbox: the personal and the shared ones. So, for example, a support team needs to have the alias [email protected] to contact their clients. Drag will display the support inbox on all the team members’ accounts. And they will be able to see and interact with the emails on it in real-time.

Drag boards
Besides allowing you to use the regular labels in Gmail, Drag offers shared tags for teams to apply to their emails and tasks. This way, it becomes easier to categorize pieces of workflows. For example, for Customer Support teams, tags can be support level, level criticality, type of ticket (bug report/help/feature request), and for sales teams, it can be the size of the opportunity, timezone, probability, and others.

The team decides which is the best way to categorize their emails, and what information is more critical.

Wrapping up

As you can see, there are many ways to organize your inbox, and with Gmail labels, you can put your mark on the way you hold your emails. You are going to notice how much more straightforward will be handling your Gmail account by using multiple labels.

Don’t forget to use filters to help you set your tags automatically. Organizing your inbox will never be so effortless after starting using these Gmail features.

A whole new way of organizing Gmail.

Drag turns Gmail into your Team’s Workspace – One single place to support customers, manage tasks and close deals, from the place teams love: Gmail. We are a Techstars-backed Company, trusted by 30,000 users around the World.

Try Drag for Free
Samantha Anacleto

Author Samantha Anacleto

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