Carnegie Mellon University

Individual typing on a keyboard with a flowchart suspended above.

April 20, 2022

Google Mail Filters: Automate Your Inbox Like a Pro

If there's one thing we can all agree on when it comes to email, it’s repetitive. Every day, we perform similar tasks, from replying to the same people to providing the same answer and then filing the message accordingly. What if we told you that you don't need to repeat many of the things you do in your inbox every day? With Google, you have nothing but options, and a big part of that is the Filters feature.

Search First, Filter Last

Consider the types of messages you would like to create a filter for, then search for them.

  1. Perform a search using one of the following options: 
    • Right-click on a message to find mail that matches that email's sender or subject. 
    • Click the Search field (top) and enter your search criteria.
  2. Once you've generated a basic search, click Search (top) > Show search options (right) to refine your search and add any additional criteria if needed.
  3. Click Create filter to set actions that will be automatically applied to search results that match your criteria.
  4. When a message is an exact match, you can tell Google Mail to:
    • Skip the Inbox (Archive it) - this will cause Google Mail to auto-archive mail that meets your criteria.
    • Mark as read - mail will be marked as read. This is often combined with the Skip the Inbox (Archive it) option.
    • Star it - a star will be applied to mail that meets your criteria with a star.
    • Apply the label - you can automatically apply an existing label to mail that meets your criteria or create a new label.
    • Forward it - auto-forward mail that meets your criteria to a specific address.
    • Delete it - auto-delete mail that meets your criteria..
    • Never send it to Spam - do not send mail that meets your criteria to spam.
    • Send template -  auto-reply to mail that meets your criteria with a specific email template.
    • Always mark it as Important - mark mail that meets your criteria as important with a flag.
    • Never mark it as important - never mark mail that meets your criteria as important.
    • Categorize as - apply a Google Category to mail that meets your criteria.
    • Also apply filter to matching messages - we recommend always selecting this option as it will apply your filter to existing messages. Otherwise, Google Mail will only apply your filter to new messages.
  5. Click Create filter to apply the filter.

Create filters

Edit Filters

To edit a filter in Google Mail:

  1. Click Settings > See all settings > Filters and blocked addresses.
  2. Click edit to modify an existing filter.
  3. Click delete to remove a current filter. 
  4. Click Select All to export or bulk delete filters.

Edit or delete filters

Our Favorite Filters

Interested in using filters but aren't sure where to start? Here are some of our favorite filters:

 Why you’d want it:

It removes calendar event notifications from your inbox and labels them.

  • To: enter your email address to specify replies addressed to you.
  • Subject: Accepted (invite.ics OR invite.vcs)
  • has attachment
  • Skip the Inbox (Archive it)
  • Apply the new label Meeting Response
  • Also apply filter to matching messages

Why you’d want it:

If you receive regular messages from a particular sender or with a specific subject, you can set up Google Mail to auto-reply with a specific email template. 

Add these criteria to your search:

  • To: Enter the email address where the messages will be sent.

  • Subject: Enter the subject line (if consistent).

Add these criteria to your filter:

  • Skip the Inbox (Archive it)

  • Send template - Note: You must already have a template. If you do not have one, you may create a template in Google Mail.

Why you’d want it:

Google Mail will mark some messages as important automatically, but this step will ensure you’ll never miss an important email from your manager!

  • Fr: enter your manager’s name or email address
  • Skip the Inbox (Archive it)
  • Apply the new label Your Manager’s Name
  • Also apply filter to matching messages


Your email may require some actions day in and day out, but that doesn’t mean the experience has to be painful. Create email filters today and put Google Mail to work for you tomorrow!