Gmail has advanced leaps and bounds ever since it’s initial launch in 2004. People have adjusted according to the technology they use and Gmail without a doubt has taken over with more than 500 million Gmail users as at January 2014. This figure must have increased rapidly following the Gmail statistics according to DMR. Even though there is a massive user base for Gmail as a whole, we see only a small subset that digs deeper into the advance features that it offers.

One of the coolest features about Gmail is its filters and when you set it up properly, you will see a massive difference and improved functionality in your Gmail account. You can easily save time and space while getting rid of unwanted mails filling your inbox. Setting up new rules for incoming mails can look like a difficult task but here are some easy steps that you can use filters and make a difference in your email account functionality.

1. Prioritizing emails from people you know

Even though most of you don’t use Google+ for your social networking purposes, it can help you out to sort out your mails from your inbox. You can simply enter [circle: “name of circle”] in your Gmail search box to identify people that you have added to your Google+ circles. You can use the drop-down dialog to create a filter from the search and simply prioritize these messages by marking them as important. You can also set up a circle in Google+ for the sole purpose of message filtering and apply any sort of action to mails that you receive from those contacts.

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2. Filtering emails from other accounts

Some of you use Gmail to consolidate messages from other email accounts. If that is the case, you can easily direct these mails away from your main inbox. In the search box you can enter [to: your other email address with the domain name] to choose messages from your secondary address. Simply open the drop-down dialog and create a filter from the search. Then you can choose to mark these emails as read as they come in or shift the mails to the Updated tab and mark them as unimportant. So all the mails from your other email accounts will be in the update tab ready to be read when you are free without cluttering your inbox.

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3. Archiving Messages and Keeping them Unread

In this time period, having a clean and uncluttered inbox is sort of the ultimate goal since many transactions personal or work related are exchanged electronically. You can easily archive your messages by setting up filters that assign emails to specific labels such as social media, promotions, newsletters, etc and set them to skip the inbox and also keep them unread for later. By keeping them unread, you can read them later on without entirely forgetting about it.

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4. Control your Group Emails

Let’s be honest. Receiving group emails can be a nuisance most of the time if you are a hard worker. Therefore, depending on your work, family and leisure activities, you can use the [cc:me OR bcc:me] query in the Gmail search field and then create a filter by using the drop-down dialog. You can deal with messages that are not sent directly to you as you see fit. You can also move them to the updates category or archive them without sending them to your inbox.

5. Identifying Mailing Lists and Newsletters

When you enter [unsubscribe] in your Gmail search box, you can easily identify messages that you receive from mailing lists or newsletters. But let’s hope that your colleagues and friends will not use the word as often in their day to day emails. Another effective way is to use the [label:^unsub] and search as this method uses a hidden smart label that has been automatically assigned by Google so that you can unsubscribe from messages that you think are just clutter in your inbox. Once you search and open the drop down dialog box, you can get rid of these emails from your inbox, star them for reference of even archive them to read later on.

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6. Get Labeling

You might have to modify this a little so that it suits your exact needs. However, there are many situations where you will find it useful to affix a label to a message that has a certain type of attachment. A fine example would be [has:attachment filename:(doc OR docx OR xlsx etc)] where you can label work messages. Also you can try out [has:attachment filename: (jpg OR gif OR png)] to flag out and label all media and photos that are received to your Gmail inbox. Later on, you can easily identify these mails and check them out.

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7. Star Away

If you have opted to receive notifications from your social media network sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc, then Gmail will automatically filter them into your social tab. Even if you choose the default tabs or not, the ‘social category’ will be applied to these messages anyway. You can also use the search term [category:social friend’s name] and run a search on tweets, messages, new posts etc on anyone that is in your circle or friend’s list. You can create a filter to apply a star so that you will not miss any of the important notifications.

8. Reminders so that you will not forget

Google Calendar can be set up to remind yourself about events that are important to you and that you should never ever miss. You can set up a label [“events”] so that your calendar reminders go straight to the label, star the label and make it skip the inbox. Now, your events will be in one place and won’t be scattered throughout your inbox. Once the event is complete, you can easily un-star it.

9. Send Spam to Trash

Yes. Instead of having your Gmail account send unwanted messages to your spam folder, you can easily set up a filter with [is:spam] in the “has the words” fields, click ‘ok’ on Gmail’s warning dialog box when you click the next step and choose ‘Delete it’ as the action. The exciting news is, now all your spam messages will directly go to your trash.

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10. Easy for Bloggers

If you are an ardent blogger, you can have all your blog’s comments and ping-backs automatically archived. You can label “blog” so that these notifications won’t fill up your inbox.

11. Know about Labs

You can also find a lot of extra features in Gmail Labs. From quick links and canned responses to multiple inboxes to picasa previews in mails, Labs offers you many features that you can use to improve Gmail and enjoy a better experience altogether. One of the best features of Labs is the “Undo Send” feature. There are times that you write a letter or official mail and hit that send button only to realize that it was the wrong move. Now, you can adjust Gmail to wait for a predefined time limit from 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds before sending your email. During this period, you can hit the “undo” button and probably amend the mail and get rid of the mistake. You might think it unnecessary but its safer to enable the feature as a precaution.

You should remember that a filter works much like Gmail’s search function while you can add search terms such as “AND” or “NOT” or “OR”. You can look for addresses that are from a number of senders using “OR” or emails that must include all the words in the given list using AND. As a Gmail user you can also use search operator symbols such as ‘|’ for OR, space for AND ‘-’ for NOT etc. Beyond these common terms, filters can use other terms such as “from:”, “to:”, “has:”, “filename:”, “is:” and “label:” Remember, filters can be more powerful if you make use of these terms.

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