Arpeet Kale / 10.03.2023Home / Email Security

A comprehensive guide to a clean inbox with Gmail filters

Gmail filters help you streamline incoming mail organization and automate repetitive tasks. Learn how to create and manage them.
There is a high chance that only a small portion of the emails you receive require action. The rest mostly fill up your inbox and Gmail storage, resulting in a cluttered email environment. You may also use one account for different purposes, and manually sorting your mail into corresponding folders is quite inconvenient.You can eliminate all of the above issues by using Gmail filters to automate mundane, repetitive email management tasks. This guide will show you how to use this helpful feature to keep your inbox clean. You’ll then learn about Gmail’s shortcomings to help you decide whether setting up different filters is worth it.
Elevate your email management with SkiffSkiff Mail combines powerful organization tools with end-to-end encryption, ensuring your inbox is both tidy and private
Sign up

How to filter emails in Gmail

The term “filtering” can refer to two actions:
  1. Using the search bar to find specific emails
  2. Creating automatic filters (also known as rules) that sort incoming mail
These actions are interconnected, as you’ll first use the search function to highlight specific emails before creating a filter.Let’s assume you want to create a filter that automatically deletes promotional emails. In this case, you can search for a keyword that appears in most of them, such as “unsubscribe.”Gmail will show you all emails containing the keyword, so you can click the filter icon on the right side of the search bar and go to ‘Create filter’ to access the automatic filtering option, as shown in the following image:
Source: Gmail screenshotYou can also access this feature from settings by following these steps:
  1. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the main screen
  2. Click See all settings
  3. Go to Filters and Blocked Addresses
  4. Click Create a new filter
Source: Gmail screenshotWhichever approach you take, you’ll see various options that let you decide on emails you’ll filter and actions Gmail should take.

How to create Gmail filter rules

The first step toward creating a Gmail filter is to set specific criteria for the email you wish to automate. The aforementioned example has the keyword “unsubscribe” as the criterion, but you can play with the feature using the so-called operators.Besides the self-explanatory operators like from: that lets you filter messages by sender, other common options include the following:
ORFilters messages that contain either of the given keywordsUnsubscribe OR Sign up
-Excludes terms or senders from the filter[email protected]
filename:Highlights emails with files under a specific name or typefilename:pdf
You can combine operators to fine-tune the conditions and target specific emails, which can be especially helpful for managing spam. Once you do that, follow these steps to finalize your action:
  1. Click Create filter
  2. Choose what you want Gmail to do with the emails that match the criteria
  3. Click Create filter again to set the new rule
Source: Gmail screenshotThe new filter will regulate all incoming mail, but you can apply it to everything currently in the inbox by checking ‘Also apply filter to matching conversations.’

How to filter emails to a folder in Gmail

Besides decluttering your inbox, organizing mail by folders automatically is the most common use of filters. Some users struggle with this option because no available filter actions mention folders.The explanation is simple—Gmail refers to folders as labels. You can apply them to the emails you want to clean and automate.For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you want to separate personal from business emails. In this case, you should first create the corresponding labels by following these steps:
  1. Click the + sign next to Labels in the left-hand menu
  2. Name your label
  3. Click Create
Source: Gmail screenshotThe new labels will show up on the left side of your inbox, and you can take the following steps to apply them automatically:
  1. Set the conditions as explained above (e.g., you can choose to filter emails from family members)
  2. Click Create filter
  3. Check the box next to Skip the Inbox (Archive it)
  4. Check Apply the label: and choose the corresponding label
  5. Click Create filter again
Checking the ‘Skip the Inbox’ box ensures the email goes straight to the chosen folder. Otherwise, it will appear in your main inbox despite being labeled.

How to edit filters in Gmail and delete unused ones

You may need to add new conditions or actions to your filters as your correspondence evolves. In this case, you can take the following steps to update them:
  1. Click the gear icon and go to See all settings
  2. Go to Filters and Blocked Addresses
  3. Click edit next to the filter you want to modify
  4. Change the conditions (if applicable) and click Continue
  5. Set new rules and click Update filter
Source: Gmail screenshotIf you no longer want to use the filter, click the ‘delete’ button positioned next to ‘edit.’ Note that while deleting a filter removes it from the affected emails, it doesn’t reverse any action taken while it was active—it won’t restore your deleted emails.

Are Gmail filters worth the commitment?

Many people choose an email service based on features, which explains Gmail’s popularity. It offers a solid email experience and valuable features at no cost. Unfortunately, the platform falls short when it comes to the most important aspects of emailing—security and privacy.Big Tech providers advertise their solutions as secure by claiming your data is encrypted in transit and at rest. This measure makes it seem like your correspondence is safe from malicious parties like hackers because there’s no attack surface they could exploit.If you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll realize this isn’t necessarily true. While Gmail does protect emails in transit, it does so using Transport Layer Security (TLS), a basic encryption protocol vulnerable to many types of cyberattacks.Data resting on Gmail’s servers is encrypted using AES-256, a robust algorithm that comes with a significant drawback—Google creates and stores the encryption keys, which means they can decrypt and read your emails at any point.Besides, a compromised server can result in the attacker obtaining the keys and accessing all sensitive information sent via email.With this in mind, handy organization features aren’t worth the risk of exposing your data to internal and external threats. The good news is that there doesn’t have to be a trade-off, as you can find privacy-first email solutions that don’t lack advanced inbox management features.
Choose safety and feature varietySkiff Mail offers advanced filters alongside robust privacy features for an organized and secure email experience
Sign up

Why you should use a privacy-first email service

Secure email services are relatively scarce, but there are still enough options for personal and business users alike. While each provider has unique selling points, they all share a crucial feature—end-to-end encryption (E2EE).Unlike Gmail’s default protection, E2EE gives you control over your privacy in the following ways:
  • It secures your correspondence at all points between you and the recipient
  • It grants you the authority over the encryption keys as they are created and stored on your device, where the emails are encrypted before you send them
  • It factors out server-level decryption, as only the recipient holding the decryption key can decipher the message
This way, you get complete confidentiality and can rest assured third parties and your provider can’t see plaintext copies of your emails. The only way a hacker could access them is if they stole the encryption keys from your device, so as long as you keep them safe, you can enjoy peace of mind.If you need a provider offering this level of protection, Skiff Mail is worth checking out.

Shield your correspondence with Skiff Mail

Skiff Mail is an end-to-end encrypted email service that gives you complete control over your personal data and correspondence. It does so by implementing two separate keys:
  • Public key—Encrypts the message and is shared with the recipient
  • Private key—Decrypts the email and remains safely stored on the user’s device
Skiff doesn’t own or store the keys, which means not even their team can’t see your emails—they’re only readable to the recipient.For additional privacy, Skiff Mail lets you sign up without leaving any personal information, thanks to the zero-knowledge login feature. Once you create an account, the Secure Remote Password algorithm will encrypt your login credentials alongside other critical account information and encryption keys.You can also enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your account in case someone gets ahold of your login credentials. Skiff implements 2FA through the Authenticator app, so you don’t need to provide your phone number.
Source: Skiff

Stay productive and create a secure workspace

Skiff Mail is equipped with various email organization features—the rich free plan includes:
  • Two filters
  • Five folders and labels
  • Four aliases
  • Schedule and undo-send
  • One custom domain
  • Lightning-fast email and text search
  • Crypto wallet integrations
You also get 10 GB of end-to-end encrypted storage, significantly above the industry standard for E2EE email providers. An average user should find the storage and feature variety more than sufficient for everyday correspondence.
Source: SkiffYour Skiff Mail account gives you access to three additional end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  • Skiff Pages—A comprehensive note-taking and document creation tool that keeps your file’s contents and key metadata end-to-end encrypted
  • Skiff Drive—A secure cloud solution supporting files of all types and sizes that comes with optional InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) integration
  • Skiff Calendar—An E2EE calendar app that features a built-in video conferencing tool and syncs with Skiff Mail
Skiff products are open source, which ensures complete codebase transparency. You can learn more about their features and security measures in this whitepaper and join Skiff’s GitHub community.The entire suite also offers excellent cross-platform support—it’s available on:

Get started with Skiff

If you need a secure Gmail alternative that values your privacy, you can sign up for Skiff Mail in three steps:
  1. Go to the signup page
  2. Choose your username and password
  3. Explore Skiff Mail and other E2EE products
Thanks to Skiff's one-click migration, you can transfer all your correspondence from Gmail effortlessly, and it will be encrypted immediately.If you’re an advanced user and wish to expand Skiff’s functionality with additional features and more storage, you can upgrade to one of three paid plans:
Plan Cost
EssentialFrom $3 per month
ProFrom $8 per month
BusinessFrom $12/user per month

Join the community

Become a part of our 1,500,000+ community and join the future of a private and decentralized internet.

Free plan • No card required