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 when you access 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. Select Settings denoted as a gear in the upper-right corner.

    Gmail inbox with the Settings icon highlighted
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Settings.

    Gmail gear menu with Settings highlighted
  3. In the Settings window, select Labels.

    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, 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 the Gmail Show in IMAP feature. The email client only displays in its subscription window those folders whose labels are actively shown in IMAP. If you change the list in your email program, those modifications do not sync back to Gmail.