How to Hide Folders and Labels in Gmail IMAP

Blank red note attached to file folder in row

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It's great how you can access all your Gmail labels and "folders" in any email program and mobile device seamlessly: all the folders, including the ominous folder called "All Mail" that holds all five GBs worth of email.

If all you want is the mail in your Gmail inbox, synchronizing All Mail and your labels may not be needed. If your email program or mobile device does not allow you to unsubscribe IMAP folders, you can still hide these labels and views — and stop their mail from downloading.

Hide Folders and Labels in Gmail IMAP

To hide a Gmail folder or label from IMAP access:

  • Click the gear icon in the top right of Gmail.
  • Select Mail settings from the menu that appears.
  • Go to Labels.
  • Make sure Show in IMAP is not checked for any folder or label you want to hide from email programs and devices connecting to Gmail via IMAP.
    • Hide All Mail, for example, to prevent your program from synchronizing GBs of mail.
      • Do keep in mind, though, that moving a message to All Mail is a way of archiving when accessing Gmail via IMAP.

You can also limit the number of messages visible to email programs in each folder — to speed up synchronization and have the desktop program keep less mail locally, for example.