How to Create Labels in Gmail

Labels in Gmail organize your inbox like folders

Labels in Gmail function much like folders do in other email clients. Labels are applied to email messages, and all messages of a particular label can be viewed in a collection by clicking on the label name in the left side pane. What makes labels more useful than folders, however, is that a single message can have multiple labels so it can appear in each of the assigned label's lists.

Creating a new label

  1. Open the message you want to label.

  2. Click the Labels icon in the toolbar (hover your mouse pointer over each to see the name).

  3. Click Create new.

  4. Type the name you want to use for the new label under Please enter a new label name.

  5. You may also choose to make the new label a sub-label of another by checking the box next to Nest label under, and in the dropdown selecting the current label you want the new one to fall under.

  6. Click Create.

Assigning a label to multiple emails

There are several quick methods for labeling multiple emails with a label. One way is to select each message by checking the box to the left of each message you want to label. When you have selected all of the messages you want, click the Labels icon in the menu. Check the boxes next to each label you want to assign to your selected messages; or click Create new to assign a new label to the messages.

You may also use the search function to pull up a list of messages you'd like to label. This is especially handy if you have a large number of emails that you want to collect under a label.

For example, you might search your inbox for "Your Amazon.com order" (include the quotation marks to limit your search results to that exact phrase) to see all the email messages Amazon automatically generates when you place an order. Click the first check box at the top left of the search list to select all of the emails displayed. Clicking the down arrow next to the check box, you will have further options to limit your selections to all read, all unread, starred messages and more.

If you have a very large number of messages, not all of them will appear in the displayed list. Look at the top of the email list and click the message Select all conversations that match this search to select all the emails that fit the search criteria, including those that are not displayed.

Once you have all your messages selected, follow the same process for applying labels, clicking the Labels icon and selecting the labels to apply.

Removing a label from a message

At the top of a selected message you can see all of the labels that have been applied to it listed along the top of the email. It's very simple to remove a label. Click the X on each label you want to remove from the message.

Labeling a message you're composing

You can also label a message you're currently writing by clicking the Menu button in the lower right corner of the message and moving your pointer down to Labels. A slide out menu will show you labels you have already created, if any, and give you the option of creating a new label.

Deleting a label

You can delete an entire label you no longer want at any time. Doing so will not delete the messages that carry that label, however.

  1. Open or select any message or conversation in Gmail.

  2. Click the Labels icon in the toolbar.

  3. ​In the menu, click Manage labels.

  4. Scroll down to the Labels section and under the Actions column click remove.

  5. Click Delete to confirm the action. Gmail will delete the label, it will be removed from any messages it applies to.

It is good practice to delete unused and unneeded labels. Labels are a great organization tool, but many of them will begin to clutter your left pane menu. . Too many a label can make Gmail slow, and Gmail via IMAP is more manageable with fewer labels, too (though you can also hide individual labels from IMAP).