2020 Encouragement

2020 Organizing Encouragement – How to setup Gmail Labels

Last week’s Org Encouragement was about organizing emails and included a suggestion to set up to folders/labels for Holding and Archive. A social media follower asked about how to set up folders/labels. Thank you so much for asking! Here are some instructions for setting up Gmail labels.

I’ll start with Gmail as I think it is the most common email provider these days. Gmail uses labels instead of folders. You have different labels you can apply to an email message. Unlike a folder system, you can have multiple labels on one email message. Gmail also has an incredible search function, so you don’t need a lot of labels unless you find them useful. If you need an email from Betty, you can search for Betty, and it will pull up all emails from Betty. If you need an email about benefits, search the word ‘benefits,’ and you can find it the same way.

One other important thing to know about Gmail before we get started, you have your inbox and an archive automatically. Gmail already has an archive function built-in, so we don’t have to create a label for it. I’ll show you how to find those emails later!

How to Set up labels

This is the screen that loads when you open Gmail IF you have turned off inbox tabs. Inbox tabs is a function where Gmail moves social/promotions/updates out of your primary inbox for you. If that works for you great, that won’t impact labels we make today in any way.

Step 1: click on the gear top right

Step 2: click on settings

Step 3: click on labels

This is the label panel:

First – you may or may not have the IMAP checkboxes on the right for system labels; this is not important for what we are doing here.

Everything you see here is what should be in an account without any labels previously created. Show/hide is indicating what is shown on the left list below ‘+Compose’. You can show and hide what you like.

Step 4: click on ‘Create new label’ at the bottom of the labels list, the highlighted area is where all your created labels will be. They are always at the bottom of the list.

Step 5: type in ‘Holding’ and hit create, and you will get this:

We now have a new label for Holding. You can see it on the left side panel under ‘All Mail’ as well. I suggest leaving it as ‘show’ on both the label list (the list on the left) and ‘show’ under Show in the message list. This last one means that when you are looking at messages you can see the label for Holding.

So, yeah, we have a label for holding, now what?

How to label an email

Let’s go back to the inbox. I moved a bunch of Lululemon promotional emails into the inbox to show you how to label an email. (Please note I am not endorsing, affiliated, or suggesting Lululemon to you, I get their emails, and it seemed like a good example.)

When looking at your primary inbox, click on the left checkbox to highlight the email (or emails) you want to label:

Next click on the label icon at the top:

Click the checkmark for Holding and then apply:

You can now see that there is 1 (one) email in the holding label on the left and on the message it has the holding label as well:

You can label email from a list screen OR an open email; the labelling process is the same. The only difference is when an email is open, you don’t have to click a checkmark. The label is applied to the open email.

Now, when I click on Holding on the left-hand side, I get this:

The email is now under the Holding label. BUT, it is still also in the inbox. The whole idea of creating a holding label is to get emails out of the inbox. So let us go back to the primary inbox and click on that email again:

We are now going to archive this email. This might not be very clear. I said originally you should have an archive folder/label AND a holding folder/label. So why is this email going in both? Because Gmail has an inbox and an archive, email can be only in those two places. BUT with the label of holding the email, we want to be able to reference, we can easily find again. So, we are getting this email out of the inbox!

I have checked the email so I can now archive it by using the first icon above the emails. This works when an email is open too!

We have now labelled our email and can easily find it again with the holding label!

Find generally archived emails by using the ‘All Mail’ label on the left-hand side. This will give you ALL the emails that are archived within Gmail, which will include the email with a holding label. Remember, Gmail has two places for an email to be inbox and archive!

One other fun thing you can do with labels you create is colour them! I prefer the grey background theme, so that coloured labels show up well and stand out.

How to colour labels

The first step is not visible with screenshots, but if you place your mouse cursor over the label on the left-hand side you will have three verticle dots that appear where the 1 currently is/would be in the screenshot above, click on the dots, and you get this list:

Mouse over label colour and a pop-up to the right will appear, and you can choose the colour you want.

To visualize this, I have archived all the inbox lululemon emails and searched for Lululemon:

This makes it easy to see the Holding email. You can add more labels if you think that will help you find what you are looking for. You can also create labels in the Gmail app; I felt it was easier to visualize in a browser, but the steps would be the same.

Let me know if you found this useful (or not). This is a lot more detailed than what I had planned for my weekly posts, but if you find value in more detailed instructions, I am happy to help! You can comment below or find me on socials! Tag me but also use the hashtag #OWJOrgEncouragement. 

Find the full list of 2020 Organizing Encouragement here.

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