How to Whitelist in Gmail

Make sure important emails never go into Gmail's Spam folder

Apple monitor mockup with Gmail filter onscreen

Syed Ali/Dribble

 

If Gmail keeps sending messages from a certain sender to the Spam folder, you can make it stop by explicitly telling Gmail that the email is safe, which will allow it through the spam filter. You accomplish this in Gmail by whitelisting the address—that is, adding it to the safe senders' list.

You might set up whitelisting in Gmail if important emails keep getting marked as spam and never show up in your Inbox. What's happening is that Gmail is identifying them as nonimportant and possibly harmful emails that you probably don't want. However, the spam filter isn't always 100 percent correct, in which case you can take action to start getting those emails in your Inbox.

When you set up a filter to whitelist a certain sender, Gmail makes sure it reaches the Inbox folder for you to see. You can whitelist emails in Gmail by making an email filter. It can apply to a specific email address, a whole domain, or a mix of both.

Directions

Setting up email filtering in Gmail to allow messages through the spam filter is a simple process. Just open the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab to build a new filter that includes the address(es) you don't want blocked.

  1. Open the settings icon at the upper right-hand side of Gmail (the gear icon), and choose Settings from the list.

    Settings menu item in Gear icon for Gmail
  2. Open the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab.

    Filters and Blocked Addresses tab in Gmail
  3. Click the link called Create a new filter. If you already have lots of filters, you won't see this link until you scroll to the very bottom of the page.

    Create a new filter link in Gmail Settings
  4. In the From field, type the email address to whitelist.

    Be sure to type the full email address, like example@yahoo.com. To whitelist every email address from a specific domain, type just that domain name, like @gmail.com, to put every Gmail.com address on the safe list.

  5. Click Create filter at the bottom of that pop-up window to make the whitelist filter.

    Create filter button in Gmail Settings
  6. You'll also need to tell Gmail what to do with emails from your filtered addresses. Choose Never send to Spam if you don't want any of the other options listed. Click Create Filter again to finish the process.

    Create filter button in list of actions for Gmail filtered addresses

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.

If you don't see the vertical bar (also called the pipe or vertical slash) on your keyboard, hold Shift and then hit the backslash key (\).

Another Method

The other option for setting up whitelist filters in Gmail is to do it from the email. If you want to keep all messages from that particular sender out of the Spam folder, you can start the filter from one of the sender's messages.

  1. Open the message.

  2. From the three-dotted menu just above the message (the same button used to mark emails as read/unread or as important), click 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, create the filter with the Create filter button.

Tips

When you whitelist an email or domain in Gmail, the filter does not apply to past emails that are already in the Spam or Trash folder. The filter works from the time you enable it onward.

You can add more than one email address to the From field by selecting the emails from your account. For example, you can choose one from a Gmail address, another from Outlook.com, and a few others, and then use the Filter messages like this option to immediately copy all of those email addresses into the From field. From there, you can quickly whitelist all of those addresses, add others, or remove some from the selection.

You should avoid putting an entire domain into the safe senders' list. Whitelisting all Gmail.com addresses, for example, will keep every single email from a Gmail.com address from going to the Spam folder.

It might seem convenient to do this if you want to whitelist lots of Gmail addresses at once, but it's better to avoid grouping all addresses together. There's a good chance that some messages from Gmail.com addresses should indeed go to the Spam folder.

If you are whitelisting a whole domain in Gmail, it's best to do so for addresses that are not so popular, like if a website won't stop spamming you. For example, if the website spammy.org keeps sending you emails with that in the domain name, blocking all @spammy.org addresses is completely fine. You're more likely to run into issues when an entire email service (like @outlook.com or @gmail.com) is blocked.

On the other hand, if you're a webmaster and your users subscribe to content on your website, you can suggest that they whitelist your domain before they subscribe. This will ensure that every email the website sends will go to their Inbox.

Another way to mark emails as not being spam is to use the Not spam button. However, this button is only visible when the message is opened from the Spam folder. In other words, you cannot use this method to preapprove emails to make sure they don't get marked as spam.