How to Configure Gmail SmartLabels

Gmail's smart SmartLabels labels need no configuration: they move newsletters and promotions out of the way for later reading, highlight receipts and notifications; they mark mailing lists, too.

Gmail's smart SmartLabels labels can profit from configuration, of course. If you prefer messages from lists filed to a label and not show up in the Inbox, for instance, or don't like promotions thrown together with other bulk email, adapting SmartLabels to your tastes is as easy as modifying any rule in Gmail — or easier.

Configure Gmail SmartLabels

To change how a certain category of mail is treated:

  • Click the gear in the top Gmail navigation bar.
  • Select Mail settings from the menu.
  • Go to the Filters category.
  • Look for a filter that matches something beginning with label:^smartlabel_.
    • See below for setting up a filter for a new category.
  • Click Edit next to the desired category's rule.
  • Verify the desired category is listed under Category:.
  • Click Next Step ››.
  • Pick the desired actions under Choose action.
  • Make sure Exclude from SmartLabel categorization is not checked.
  • To apply a label, for instance, make sure Apply the label: is checked and select the desired label or create a new one.
    • You can set up a new label just for the Promotions smart label, for instance; by default, promotions are labeled "Bulk".
  • To have messages in the category show up in their label, if you use one, and under All Mail but not in the Inbox, make sure Skip the Inbox is checked.
  • Click Update Filter.

To add a filter for a new category (available categories are Bulk for newsletters and other bulk emails, Forums for mailing lists and web forums, Notifications for, e.g., shipping notices and receipts, Personal for mail not sent in bulk and Promotions for advertisements and campaigns):

  • Use the gear in the top Gmail navigation bar.
  • Choose Mail settings from the menu.
  • Go to the Filters category.
  • Verify no rule exists for the desired SmartFilters category (look under SmartLabel Filter).
  • Click Create a new filter.
  • Enter the following under Has the words: depending on the desired category:
    • label:^smartlabel_newsletter — Bulk
    • label:^smartlabel_group — Forums
    • label:^smartlabel_notification — Notifications
    • label:^smartlabel_personal — Personal
    • label:^smartlabel_promo — Promotions
  • Click Next Step ››.
  • Click OK if Gmail warns you about searches containing "label:".
  • Choose the desired actions under Choose action. (See above for some examples.)
  • Click Create Filter.

In addition to configuring your filters' settings, you can also report misclassified emails for review, of course.