The Ultimate Guide to Gmail Labels
Lina Yakunina
December 18, 2019

Do you know how much of your working day is spent looking for information in your inbox? 

According to McKinsey, almost 20% of employees’ time is spent searching for information. That’s the equivalent of one full day at the office.

And with office workers receiving 121 emails per day on average, it’s more than likely that much of the time is spent sifting through emails and attachments.

Luckily, email labels are Gmail’s secret weapon to fight against inbox clutter. They allow you to quickly organize your inbox, reducing the time required to track down information. 

This guide will take you through the process step by step to create a neat, tidy, and well-organized inbox. It includes screenshots, how-to’s, and some insanely helpful tips. 

You can use the links below to jump to a specific section or you can enjoy the full read, to make sure you’ve covered every aspect of Gmail labels.

  1. What are Gmail labels
  2. How to create a new label
  3. How to associate labels to emails
  4. How to edit a Gmail label
  5. Why and how to share a Gmail label
  6. How to turn a Gmail label into a Kanban board inside Gmail
  7. How to integrate Gmail with Trello, 2-way
  8. How to create nested labels
  9. How to create a high-level label from a sub-level label
  10. How to create nested Shared Labels
  11. How to search within labels
  12. How to merge Gmail labels
  13. How to delete a Gmail label
  14. How to remove somebody from a Shared Label

Ready to be an inbox ninja? Let’s go.

1. What are Gmail labels?

In Gmail, you can add a tag or label to emails that are sent, received, or drafted. 

Similar to folders, they are used to organize your inbox by grouping together relevant emails. But unlike email folders, you can add multiple labels to one email. 

For instance, Sales teams can use email labels to organize their inbox by creating different labels such as ‘Leads,’ ‘Contacts,’ and ‘Deals.’ 

Project Managers, on the other hand, might add a project status such as ‘In Progress’ or ‘Complete’ to an email chain. 

2. How to create a new label

It’s really simple to create a new label. Any logged-in Gmail user has three options for adding a label to an email:

  1. First, from inside an email, you can select the ‘Label As’ icon at the top of the window. Then select ‘Create New Label’ and name the label accordingly. If required, you can nest the label under another label to create a subcategory. 
  2. Second, you can select ‘Create New Label’ from the menu on the left-hand side and enter the name of the category and, if required, subcategory. 
  3. Third, you can select the gear icon from the top right of the window and then select ‘Settings’ from the drop-down menu that appears. Next, select ‘Labels’ and then ‘Create New Label’.

3. How to associate labels to emails

Depending on your use case, there are multiple ways you can add a label to an email.

3.1. Manually add labels

You can manually add a label to an email by selecting the ‘Label As’ icon from the top. 

3.2. Use filters to add labels

Another option is to add a label using a filter rule. It’s quick, easy, and allows you to automate your inbox organization:

  1. Inside Gmail, click the gear icon and select ‘Settings.’
  2. Next, click ‘Filters and Blocked Addresses’ from the top.
  3. Select ‘Create’ to apply a new filter.
  4. Select how you’d like the mail to be filtered. For example, it could be by words included or the sender’s name. 
  5. Click ‘Create Filter’ with this search.
  6. Check ‘Skip the Inbox’ and ‘Apply’ to apply the label.
  7. Click ‘Create Filter.’

3.3. Add or remove labels in bulk

You can also easily add or remove labels from multiple emails in one go by following these easy steps:

  1. Select the emails you would like to add or remove labels from. 
  2. Click the ‘Label As’ icon from the top. 
  3. Either select or deselect any labels. 
  4. Click ‘Apply.’

3.4. Use “Move to” button to organize your emails with labels

To archive emails and keep your inbox uncluttered, you can move emails out of the inbox and into another folder or label with just a couple of clicks:

  1. Open the email you would like to move to. 
  2. Select the ‘Move To’ icon from the top. 
  3. Select the folder or label you would like to move the email to. 

Or simply select multiple emails and drag them into a chosen label.

3.5. Add labels to outgoing emails

The above options are related to emails in your inbox; however, you can also add labels to your outgoing emails. To do so, follow these easy steps:

  1. Compose a message in Gmail.
  2. Select the ‘More Options’ icon (the three stacked dots toward the right side) in the toolbar at the bottom of the compose window. 
  3. Choose ‘Labels’ from the new menu that opens.
  4. Another menu will pop up with the available labels, check off the one(s) that you want to use. Or select ‘Create New’ and enter your new label name.
  5. You can also choose to ‘star’ the message from the same menu if required.
  6. Select the body of your message again to close all of the menus.
  7. Compose your message and hit send as usual. The label(s) that you chose will be applied to the message and any ongoing email chain.

3.6. Add labels using advanced automation features

Gmail is great, it’s arguably the most feature-packed email provider on the market. But like most email solutions, it lacks advanced automation features such as email templates and sequences. 

In order to automate your outreach, you can use Gmelius, a collaborative workspace that seamlessly integrates inside Gmail. It allows you to create, share, and send personalized email templates and automated follow-ups based on your recipients' interactions.

To do so, first, install Gmelius and create an email template (read the full guide on creating and sharing email templates). Now, whenever you select that template in your Compose window, the label will be applied automatically.

Sequences can also be used as a more advanced automation feature. When creating an automated sequence, you can direct Gmelius to add labels at certain stages in the workflow.

All of your email templates, sequences, and conversations sync in real-time across your entire team and all of their devices, so once you receive a reply, you’ll find the email under your chosen label.

4. How to edit a Gmail label

Once you’ve created a Gmail label, you can also edit the color, the name, and its visibility. 

To edit the label, follow these steps:

  1. On a computer, open Gmail (you can't edit labels from the Gmail app).
  2. On the left side of the page, hover your cursor over your label's name.
  3. Click the down arrow from the drop-down arrow.
  4. Click ‘Edit.’
  5. Make changes to your label.
  6. Click ‘Save.’

5. Why and how to share a Gmail label

Gmail is the most powerful email provider, however, as with all email solutions it is primarily designed for individual use. 

Unfortunately, this is a serious flaw for modern teams that work collaboratively across departments, offices, locations, and timezones.

Granted, there are various hacks you can cobble together to force your email to work for team collaboration —  you can forward, cc, bcc other team members, you can share the login details to one email account, or you can hook up a third-party CRM. 

You guessed it. None of these are ideal solutions. 

Instead, by using Gmelius’ shareable email labels, you and your team can collaborate more efficiently and effectively.

In cases where you don’t need to share your whole inbox, just specific email conversations, shared labels give you more detailed control over shared inboxes.

You can assign individual tasks and work together on email threads, avoiding duplicate conversations or missed emails. 

By sharing email labels you immediately increase transparency and accountability around team emails, create efficient and successful team collaboration, and benefit from advanced automation features. 

The applications of shared labels are universal. For example, marketing teams can share conversations related to a new lead with the sales team or the accounts department can work together on an email thread relating to an outstanding invoice. 

What’s more, it only takes a couple of clicks to set up Gmelius’ shared email labels. Once an email label is shared, you can find it nested under the Gmelius label on your lefthand Gmail pane. 

And if your team is on Slack, you can even use the new Gmelius Slack integration to create full sync between shared labels and your chosen Slack channels.

There’s no need to jump back and forth between platforms; everyone in your team can share and assign emails to other team members, add email notes, and more, either directly from Gmail or Slack. 

5.1. How to create a new Shared Gmail Label

To create a shared label, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Gmelius icon for your right hand Gmelius Sidebar to appear on Gmail.
  2. Click on 'Create.'
  3. From the drop-down menu, select the relevant option to create a new shared label. A new tab in your browser will open directing you to your Shared Labels configuration panel.
  4. Fill in the ‘Share’ field with the name of the new shared label you want to create or select from the drop-down list the existing Gmail labels that you want to share in bulk.
  5. Enter or select the names of the users with whom you want to share the emails labelled with the shared labels, and click ‘Next’.
  6. If you want to automatically add future team members to your shared label(s), select the relevant option. You can change this option afterwards if required. 
  7. Decide where you want your team to manage the shared label(s) from.

For further details with screenshots follow the article on how to create a shared label.

5.2. How to sync existing conversations in a Shared Label

If you have existing conversations in a label, you can sync the shared label for your team to get these conversations. 

  1. On your Gmelius Dashboard hover on the actions column of the shared label you want to sync.
  2. Click on ‘Synchronize History.’

6. How to turn a Gmail label into a Kanban board inside Gmail

Any email can lead to a task and any task is part of a project. Gmelius lets you convert email conversations into actionable task cards and collaborate on projects across your teams with Kanban-style project boards directly inside your Gmail inbox.

It only takes a few clicks to turn your Gmail labels into visual Kanban boards.

  1. Make sure you have shared your Gmail Label. (See part 5.1)
  2. Head to your Gmelius Dashboard - Collaboration - Shared Labels. 
  3. In the Integrations column, click ‘Create a board’.
  1. Refresh your inbox tab.
  2. Access Boards on the left sidebar of your inbox.
  3. Your new board is ready.

7. How to integrate Gmail with Trello, 2-way

Tired of switching between Gmail and Trello while managing projects or clients? 

Stop the endless tab-switching with Gmelius’ 2-way integration between Gmail and Trello.  Easily synchronize your email conversations with Trello and manage your Trello projects from your inbox.

To sync your Gmail label with Trello:

  1. Access a board view of a Gmail label you want to sync with Trello.
  2. Click ‘Export to Trello’.
  1. Authorize the integration.
  2. Your Gmail Label is now synced with Trello

You and your team can now manage emails as task cards and seamlessly collaborate on projects in real time, both from Gmail and Trello.

Alternatively, if you already have a tailored board on Trello, but would like to work on it from Gmail - Gmelius got you covered.

Import your Trello board following these steps:

  1. Click on the Gmelius icon for your right hand Gmelius Sidebar to appear on Gmail.
  2. Click on 'Create.'
  3. From the drop-down menu, select the relevant option to create a new board. A pop up window will appear.
  4. Choose  ‘Import your Trello boards in Gmail’.
  5. Authorize the integration.
  6. Choose a Trello Board to import into Gmail.

To learn more about our 2-way Gmail to Trello integration, follow this article.

8. How to create nested labels

You can also nest labels within higher-level, parent categories. 

So, if you receive an email from an ACME client who is located in the USA, you can apply the label ‘NEW YORK,’ which is nested under the ‘ACME - USA’ label. 

Or, if you need to keep track of expenses, you can create a master folder for invoices and sub-labels for each supplier or expense category. 

Follow these steps to set up a nested label in Gmail: 

  1. Select the gears icon in the top-right corner of the window, and choose ‘Settings’ from the drop-down menu. 
  2. Select ‘Labels’ if the Labels tab isn't displayed. 
  3. Select ‘Create New Label’ and enter a new label name. 
  4. Select a higher-level label in the drop-down menu inside the ‘Nest’ label section. 
  5. If you need to move an existing sub-label to a different higher-level label, navigate to the ‘Labels’ section and find the label you would like to change. 
  6. Select ‘Edit’ in the Actions column. 
  7. Choose a new higher-level label from the drop-down menu in the ‘Nest’ label. 
  8. Click ‘Create’ or ‘Save.’

9. How to create a high-level label from a sub-level label

You can easily change a sub-level label into a high-level label by following these steps:

  1. In the ‘Labels’ section, find the sub-label you want to convert. 
  2. In the Actions column, select ‘Edit.’
  3. Deselect the ‘Nest’ label. 
  4. Select ‘Save.’

10. How to create nested Shared Labels

Exactly as with your parent Gmail labels, Gmelius lets you transform Gmail sub-labels into nested shared labels:

  1. Create a new sub-label under the already shared label in Gmail.
  2. Head to your Gmelius Dashboard to transform it into a shared one. Click on the Gmelius icon for your Gmelius Sidebar to appear on Gmail and click on 'Create' and select from the drop-down menu to create a new shared label. A new tab in your browser will open directly to your Shared Labels configuration panel inside your dashboard.  
  3. Turn your newly created sub-label into a shared one.
  4. From the drop-down list, choose the newly created label.
  5. Proceed as usual with the creation of the shared label and choose with whom to share it. Then complete the setup.
  6. Refresh your inbox and voilà – your shared sub-label is ready to use!

11. How to search within labels

You can search by multiple filters in Gmail. For instance, you can search for all emails in one label that were sent by a specific email address. 

To search, follow these steps: 

  1. In the search bar at the top of Gmail, enter the ‘label: label_title’.
  2. Use the up and down arrow keys to highlight the label you want to open.
  3. Click ‘Enter’ to view the emails in that label.
  4. Press the spacebar after the label name and enter the text that you want to search for within the label. For instance, if you’d like to only see emails from one email address, enter the label: ‘label_title email_address’.

12. How to merge Gmail labels

You can merge two or more Gmail labels by following these steps: 

  1. Enter the names of the labels you want to merge in the search bar in this format: ‘label: label_title OR label: label_title’
  2. Select all the emails that appear in the search results.
  3. Finally, create a new label to be applied to all of the selected emails.

13. How to delete a Gmail label

To delete a normal Gmail label, follow these three steps: 

  1. On the left-hand sidebar, select the three-dot icon next to the label name. 
  2. Select ‘Remove Label.’ 
  3. Click ‘Delete.’ 

To delete a shared Gmelius label, follow these three steps: 

  1. Visit the Gmelius Dashboard.
  2. Select the three-dot icon next to the label.
  3. Select ‘Delete.’

Note that you can only delete a shared label if you created it. If the label was shared with someone else, the label icon in their inbox will change from the Gmelius shared icon to a classic Gmail label icon.

14. How to remove somebody from a Shared Label

If you have shared a label with colleagues, you can remove them. 

Once your colleague is removed, syncing will stop and that person won't receive shared conversations anymore, but the label will remain in their inbox.

If a label was shared with you, you can leave the shared label. 

Also, if you remove someone from your Gmelius subscription, all conversation syncing will stop. New conversations and continued threads will continue syncing immediately.

Summing up

Gmail is arguably the most feature-packed email provider out there. 

Labels are just one piece of Gmail’s functionality, that allow you to customize and organize your workflow. 

However, Gmail alone doesn’t do everything. In fact, it lacks core collaboration functionality, such as the ability to share labels with your team. 

Fortunately, Gmelius does. 

And it’s this powerful combination of Gmail and Gmelius that enables your team to be as productive as possible, save time, and improve efficiency. 


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