How to Hide Folders and Labels in Gmail IMAP

Gmail labels are treated as folders by email programs using IMAP

Blank red note attached to file folder in row
Sigthor Markusson / Getty Images

Selective syncing of a Gmail account with a desktop email program completes cleanly if you're accessing Gmail through the Internet Mail Access Protocol. Gmail's labels support a show-in-IMAP flag that works even if your favorite email client doesn't natively support selective syncing.

How to Hide Folders and Labels in Gmail IMAP

To hide a Gmail folder or label from IMAP access:

  1. Open the Labels settings menu by selecting Settings denoted as a gear on the top right side.

    Gmail inbox with the Settings icon highlighted
  2. In the dropdown menu, select Settings again.

    Gmail gear menu with Settings highlighted
  3. Once Settings opens, select Labels which is located next to General.

    The Labels heading in Gmail on a web browser
  4. Remove the checkmarks from the Show in IMAP option for each label you wish to suppress within your IMAP-based email client. The list organizes into three sections — System labels, Categories, and Labels. The last section is the spot where your custom labels appear.

    Labels screen in Gmail with the Show in IMAP option highlighted
  5. Close the Settings window when you're finished. Because your changes are saved in real time, there's no "save and exit" or equivalent button to select.

Gmail Labels in IMAP Programs

Some email programs support the selective subscription of IMAP folders. That functionality does not interface with Gmail's "show in IMAP" feature. The email client will only see in its subscription window those folders whose labels are actively shown in IMAP, and if you change the list in your email program, those modifications do not sync back to Gmail.