Hiding and Showing Labels in Gmail

Reduce clutter by showing only those messages that matter

Woman with label
You can hide labels in Gmail, or you can show them.

Catherine MacBride / Getty Images

In Gmail, every label has its use and function, but there's no need to see labels you rarely use. Hiding labels is a simple matter in Gmail, as is restoring them when you want to see them again.

How to Hide or Show Labels in Gmail

Use the Labels settings menu to show or hide relevant labels:

  1. Open the Labels setting by clicking Settings > Settings > Labels or by visiting the URL directly.

    (This shortcut link works best if you're already logged into Gmail in this browser.)

  2. Click show or hide for each label in the list. The settings window lists all labels. The first group contains system labels. The second group contains categories — i.e., the tabs many people see along the top row of the inbox. The third group contains your custom labels.

    You're free to show or hide system labels. For categories and your custom labels, you can show or hide the labels in the label list (on the left side of the Gmail screen) or the message list or both. For your custom labels, you can even flag them to show only if messages are unread.

    Gmail's Labels settings window screenshot
  3. Close the settings screen when you're done. All changes you make take effect immediately, so there's no need to save or confirm your updates.

The changes you make govern your entire Gmail account, but if you access Gmail through an IMAP-enabled mail program, your label settings won't govern which "folders" (i.e., labels) you see in the mail client. In the settings window, you can control which labels appear as folders in IMAP by checking the show in IMAP feature. This setting complements but isn't the same as, hiding labels within Gmail itself.