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Taming Gmail: Streamline Your Inbox With Google's Filters

Learn how to automate your e-mail sorting using Google Gmail's powerful filters, and keep your in-box clear for good.
When I search on from:[email protected], I see that InformationWeek has several newsletters that come from that address. So I'll add another search term:

from:[email protected] from:"InformationWeek Daily"

And now the InformationWeek Daily Newsletter -- and only that newsletter -- comes up in my search. Save that search term; you'll need it again in a few seconds.

To create a filter for that newsletter, go to the "Filters" page, click the "Create a new filter" link. In the fields at the top of the page, look for "Has the words:". Enter your search term -- from:[email protected] from:"InformationWeek Daily" in that field.

Then click the "Next Step" button and fill out the form. Check "Skip the inbox," apply the label of your choice, and optionally click the "Never send it to Spam" link if you're worried about your newsletter erroneously being sent to the spam folder.

I use rules like the ones I've described here to send my mailing lists into various folders, as well as most notices from Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.

I also have a folder called "bulk," to receive a large number of low-frequency newsletters, most of which only go out a few times a year -- not often enough for each newsletter to deserve its own folder. To create the "bulk" figure, I entered the following text in the "From:" field of the "Create a new filter" page:

[email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | | [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected] | | | | | [email protected] |

How'd I get those e-mail addresses? Every time I get a message in my inbox that belongs in that "bulk" folder, I take a minute to grab the e-mail address and add it to the "bulk" filter. The vertical bar means "or" -- that search term filters messages that come from [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected], and so forth.

By filtering bacn into appropriate folders and directing it automatically away from the in-box when it comes in, you can stay on top of your e-mail without letting e-mail run your life.

In a future article, we'll show you some more tips for using Gmail filters. Some people will call those tips "advanced." Others will call them "crazy-compulsive." Watch for the article -- you be the judge.

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