Now that you can export and import email filters with Gmail, we've decided to compile some of our favourite filters for organizing your inbox into a single, handy download. Come and get it!
For years, Gmail users would have to set useful email filters up by hand. Now, since Gmail Labs added filter importing and exporting, we can share some of our favourites in a single file.
How to Download and Import These Filters
Next, right-click on the download button here and choose "Save link as" to save the filter file to your computer.
Before you import, it's important to know: These filters don't archive, delete, or forward messages, because we're not going to make those decisions about your inbox. All they do is file messages under a set of labels that all start with f/. That way you can see which labels belong to these filters easily, and tweak them to your liking. On import these filters will create the labels automatically, so don't be alarmed when they show up.
If you're using the excellent Folders4Gmail feature on the sidebar tab in the Better Gmail 2 Firefox extension, you'll be able to collapse the new labels as shown on the left. Otherwise your list will look like the one on the right.
Ready for that? To import the file, in Settings > Filters, click on the "Import filters" link and select the file you downloaded and saved on your computer. Then click the "Open File" button.
Then, select which ones from the list you want to import, and click on the "Create Filters" button, as shown.
Of course, once you've imported the filters, it's up to you to tweak them to your particular needs and add or modify the actions associated with them.
Here's a quick explanation of all the filters included in the file you're importing.
The search recipe: Finds all messages with a file attachment.
subject:"Fw: OR Fwd:"
What it does: Labels all messages with attachments
Tweak it: Only label forwards from a particular fwd-happy co-worker or family member by adding their email addresses to the To: field.
Filter: Attachments (All files as well as only images, PDFs, office documents, MP3s)
The search recipe: Finds all messages with a file attachment. Sub-filters label images, PDFs, office documents, and MP3s separately.
The image attachments filter is:
has:attachment .jpg | .jpeg | .png | .gif | .tiff | .tif
What it does: Labels all messages with any file attached
f/attachment. Additional filetype breakdowns are as follows:
- Labels messages with images attached
- Labels messages with PDFs attached
- Labels messages with .doc, .xls, .ppt files attached
- Labels messages with .mp3 files attached
Filter: Messages Not Sent Directly to You
The search recipe: Finds all messages that don't have your email address in the To: field—in other words, email not sent directly to you. (Microsoft Outlook can colour messages sent to you and only you a specific color; this filter is halfway to that functionality.)
What it does: Labels all messages that were not sent directly to you with
f/not to you. Messages from mailing lists, on which you were cc'ed, and to any email address aliases you set up will get this label.
Tweak it: Exclude valid email aliases from your criteria. For each alias append "OR you@alias" in From and To field of the filter criteria.
Tip: Gmail can show which messages are to only you with its > and >> "personal levels indicators", too, which may render this filter unnecessary. Turn on personal level indicators in your Gmail account's settings, as shown:
Filter: Social Network Notifications
The search recipe: Finds messages from various social networking sites that are send you notifications.
from:"flickr | twitter | meetup | facebook"
What it does: Labels all the messages from the social networks you specify
Tweak it: Add and remove keywords from the list of networks in the from field to match the ones you receive messages from.
Filter: TODO Self-Reminders
The search recipe: Includes messages sent to yourself with TODO in the subject line; good for emailing yourself a task you think of from your phone on the go for processing later.
to:me from:me subject:TODO
What it does: Labels all the TODOs you send yourself
Tweak it: If you use the Trusted Trio to organize your email, you may want to change the destination label to
Follow Up. If you get task reminders from a web-based to-do list like Remember the Milk or deadline reminders from a web-based calendar, you can add those senders to the To: field.
Filter: Mailing List Messages
The search recipe: Finds all messages to and from a particular mailing list. To try it yourself, replace the addresses with mailing lists you're on.
list:firstname.lastname@example.org OR list:email@example.com
What it does: Labels all the list email
Tweak it: I seeded the filter with two mailing lists I'm on for Better Gmail 2 and Todo.txt. Replace the addresses in the "Has the words:" field to match the lists you're on.
Email filters are a very personal thing, and good ones usually involve specific email addresses of people in your life, so it's a challenge coming up with rules that might be useful to everyone. But hopefully the ones included here gave you a good starting point for sharpening your own.
What do your must-have Gmail filters look like? Got an exported filter file you want to share? Post it up in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's founding editor, loves the ability to swap importable email filter files. Her feature Smarterware appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker.