How to Whitelist in Gmail

Make sure the messages you want to see always end up in your inbox

Apple monitor mockup with Gmail filter onscreen

Syed Ali/Dribble

 

Gmail's spam function works well by identifying messages that are likely to be spam and sending them directly to a Spam folder, so you never have to see them. But, this function can become problematic if it works too well, such as when Gmail identifies a message as spam that really isn't. When that's the case, you might continue to miss email messages from a certain sender because they always end up in your Spam folder.

If Gmail keeps sending messages from a certain sender to the Spam folder, you can make it stop by telling Gmail the email address is safe. This action, called whitelisting, puts the address on your safe sender list and allows those messages through the spam filter and into your inbox.

Start With Filters and Blocked Addresses

The way to whitelist a specific email address or domain is to make an email filter.

  1. Open Gmail. In the upper-right corner, select the Settings (gear) icon. From the menu, choose Settings.

    Settings menu item in Gear icon for Gmail
  2. Select Filters and Blocked Addresses.

    Filters and Blocked Addresses tab in Gmail
  3. Select Create a new filter. If you already have many filters, you'll have to scroll down to find this link.

    Create a new filter link in Gmail Settings
  4. A dialog box appears. In the From field, type the email address you want to whitelist. Be sure to type the full email address, like example@yahoo.com. To whitelist every email address from a particular domain, type just that domain name, like @yahoo.com.

    Create filter button in Gmail Settings
  5. At the bottom of the dialog box, select Create filter.

  6. On the next screen, tell Gmail what to do with the email address or domain you just indicated. To do so, select Never send it to Spam. To finish the process, select Create filter.

    Create filter button in list of actions for Gmail filtered addresses
  7. If you want to whitelist more than one email address or domain, you need not repeat these steps for each one. Instead, put a vertical bar (and a space before and after it) between the separate accounts, as follows: person1@example.com | person2@anotherexample.com | @example2.com.

Start With an Email Message

You can also start the process of making an email filter in Gmail from a message from the person you want to whitelist.

  1. Open the message.

  2. In the upper-right corner of the message, select the three-dot (menu) icon. Select Filter messages like this.

    Filter messages like this menu option in Gmail
  3. With the email address now auto-filled for you in the From field, follow steps 5 and 6 above.

Additional Gmail Whitelisting Tips

When creating filters in Gmail, keep these additional points in mind.

  • When you whitelist an email address or domain in Gmail, the filter doesn't apply to messages already received. It works from the time you enable it onward.
  • If you're considering whitelisting an entire domain, think about the possible consequences. For example, if you whitelist @gmail.com, every single email from a Gmail.com address will be prevented from going to the Spam folder. Yet, there's a good chance that some messages from @gmail.com addresses should indeed go there. It makes more sense to whitelist a company you do business with when, for whatever reason, messages from individuals at that company tend to end up in your Spam folder.
  • Another way to mark emails as not being spam is to use the Not spam button. However, this button is only visible when a message is opened from the Spam folder. In other words, you cannot use this method to proactively prevent messages from getting marked as spam.