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How to Create Folders in Gmail (Step-by-Step w/Screenshots)

how to create labels in gmail

Want to learn how to create folders in Gmail? 

A well-organized inbox is one of the easiest ways to improve email productivity.

After all, if you can manage your email better, you’ll have more time to do the things that matter!

Fortunately, Gmail offers several effective ways to manage your inbox — with the easiest being creating folders.

In this article, I’ll first clarify how Gmail’s folder system works. Then, I’ll cover how to create folders in Gmail and highlight everything you can do with Gmail folders.

This Gmail Guide Contains:

(Click on a link to jump to a specific section.)

Let’s get started.

And if you’re new to Gmail, check out my comprehensive guides on:

Gmail Folders vs. Labels

The first thing to note about Gmail is that it doesn’t have a traditional folder system like other email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.

For example, in email providers like Microsoft Outlook, an email can belong to only one folder. So if you want to add that same email to two folders, you’ll have to create different copies.

However, Gmail works differently.

In Gmail, you don’t have folders per se.
Instead, you have labels. 

Labels work in the same way as folders in other email clients like Microsoft Outlook.

However, there’s a twist.
You can add multiple labels to an email in Gmail.

This way, an email can belong to more than one label at the same time.

For example, with Gmail, it’s possible to assign an email to the labels “Weekend plans” and “Personal” — without creating a copy of it for each label.

Since Gmail labels and folders are the same things, I’ll be using “Gmail labels” and “Gmail folders” interchangeably in this guide. 

How to Create Gmail Folders on the Web App

While there are several ways to create new folders in Gmail, I’ll cover the two easiest methods in this guide.

Note: You can’t create a custom folder (custom label) in the Gmail mobile app. 

Method 1: Using email options to create labels

1. Using your web browser of choice, head to gmail.com, and sign in to your account.

How to create folders in Gmail using email options to create labels

2. Select a message in your inbox and right-click on it.

This will bring up several options (shown below)

Hover your mouse cursor over the Label as option and click Create new.

Remember, I’m using “labels” and “folders” interchangeably in this guide.

How to create folders in Gmail using email options to create labels

3. Provide a name for your new folder and hit the Create button when you’re finished.

How to create folders in Gmail using email options to create labels

Note: You’ll also notice the option to nest the label. This is Gmail’s equivalent of creating a subfolder.

I’ll go into more detail on how to create a nested label later in this guide.

Method 2: Using the left sidebar to create labels

1. Head to gmail.com and sign in to your account.

How to create folders in Gmail using email options to create labels

2. From the left sidebar, scroll down until you find the More button and click it.

How to create folders in Gmail using the left sidebar to create labels

3. From the additional options that appear, click on the plus icon entitled Create new label.

How to create folders in Gmail using the left sidebar to create labels

4. A pop up appears, asking you to provide a name for your new folder. Fill in the name and hit Create.

How to create folders in Gmail using the left sidebar to create labels

5. Alternatively, instead of clicking “Create new label” you can also click the Manage labels button in the left sidebar.

How to create folders in Gmail using the left sidebar to create labels

Then, the Labels settings page will appear.

Keep scrolling down until you see the Create new label button, as seen below:

6. Click the Create new label button, and you’ll see the same dialog box as before.

Name your new folder, click Create, and you’re good to go!

How to create folders in Gmail_Using the left sidebar to create labels_5

Pro tip: To create a folder, you can also select an email and click the little label icon located below the search bar and follow the steps outlined above.

How to create folders in Gmail using the left sidebar to create labels

Once you’ve created your new folder, you need to add the relevant emails to it.

How to Move Emails into Folders on the Web App

Moving emails into Gmail folders is even easier than creating new folders.

Here’s how to do it:

1. To move a single email, click and hold to drag the message and drop it in the desired label on the left sidebar.

2. If you’d like to move multiple emails at a time, check the boxes on the left of the emails you want to move.

How to create folders in Gmail -How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Web App

Then, click and hold to drag them over to the required folder on the left sidebar.

3. Alternatively, you can right-click the message you want to move, click the Move to option, and select your desired folder from the list.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Web App

How to Move Emails into Folders on the Mobile App

While the mobile app won’t let you create new folders, you can move emails into your existing folders. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Gmail app on your mobile device.

2. Select the message or messages you want to move.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Mobile App

3. There are three vertical dots at the top right-hand corner of the screen; tap on them.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Mobile App

4. Now tap Move to and select the desired folder.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Mobile App

This is how the Move to (destination folder) window looks:

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Move Emails Into Folders On The Mobile App

How to Assign Emails to a Folder Automatically

Gmail also lets you avoid the hassle of manually assigning emails to folders.

All you have to do is create automatic email filters!

Note: This feature isn’t available on the mobile app. 

Here’s how it works:

1. Log in to your Gmail account.

2. Click the little downward-facing arrow in the search bar at the top of the screen.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

3. Enter the email address you want to assign to a folder in the From field in the drop-down menu that appears. This way, all emails from this email address will automatically go to the folder you assign.

Note that you can also fill in other filter criteria if you want to create a more restrictive filter.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

4. Click the Create filter button when you’re done.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

5. From the new window that appears, select the Apply the label option to choose which label will automatically apply to these emails — and where they will automatically be filed.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

6. Finally, click the Create filter button.

Gmail will now send all incoming emails from that email address to the specific folder you have chosen.

Alternatively, open the message you want to apply a filter to, and click the three vertical dots next to the label icon.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

From the drop-down menu that appears, select Filter messages like these and follow the steps outlined above.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Automatically Assign Emails To A Folder

How to Nest Folders in Gmail Using the Web App

Nesting folders in Gmail is very similar to creating subfolders inside a parent label.

Note: The mobile app does not support creating a nested label.

Method 1: Create a new nested folder in an existing folder

Here’s how to create a new nested folder inside an existing label:

1. Sign in to your Gmail account.

2. Navigate to the label list on the left-hand side of the screen, and find the folder you want to make the parent folder.

3. Hover your mouse over the folder and click on the three vertical dots that appear. Then, from the list of options available, pick Add sublabel.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Nest Folders in Gmail Using the Web App

4. Then, give it a name and hit Create.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Nest Folders in Gmail Using the Web App

Method 2: Turn an existing folder into a subfolder

Follow the steps below to take an existing folder and turn it into a subfolder:

1. Hover your mouse cursor over the desired folder to reveal the three vertical dots.

Then, click Edit from the drop-down menu.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Nest Folders in Gmail Using the Web App

2. All that’s left to do is choose which folder it should be nested under — just click your choice.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Nest Folders in Gmail Using the Web App

How to Rename Gmail Folders on the Web App

Want to change the folder names you’ve already created?

Here’s how to do it:

Note: You can’t rename or edit a Gmail folder from the mobile app.

1. From Gmail’s left sidebar, select the folder you want to rename and hover your mouse over it to reveal the three vertical dots.

2. Click Edit and rename the folder.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Rename Gmail Folders on the Web App

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Rename Gmail Folders on the Web App

Type in the new name and save. That’s all there is to it!

How to Remove a Gmail Folder on the Web App

Follow the below steps to remove a label from the Gmail web app:

Note: You can’t remove a Gmail label through the mobile app.

1. From your inbox, find the folder you want to remove from the left sidebar and open it.

2. Then, click the three vertical dots next to the folder name and click the Remove label button from the drop-down menu.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Remove A Gmail Folder on the Web App

Note: When you remove a label, Gmail doesn’t delete the emails under that label. It only erases the label.

How to Assign Colors to Your Gmail Folders on the Web App

If you want to maximize your inbox organization, you can assign different colors to your folders to easily differentiate between them.

For example, you can mark an important folder in a bright color like red to make it easy to spot.

Note: You can’t assign a color to a different label via the mobile app. 

Here’s how to color-code your Gmail folders on the web app:

1. In your inbox, go to the left sidebar and find the folder you want to color.

2. Hover your mouse over the desired folder and click the three vertical dots that appear.

3.Then, click Label color from the drop-down menu and pick the color of your choice.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Assign colors to your Gmail Folders on the Web App

How to Show or Hide Your Folders on the Web App

In case you have tons of folders and don’t want them crowding up your sidebar, Gmail also lets you choose between showing and hiding folders.

To do this, follow these simple steps:

Note: You can’t show or hide labels using the mobile app; only the web app supports this feature. 

1. From your Gmail inbox, click the More option from the left sidebar.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Show or Hide your folders on the Web App

2. Next, click the Manage labels option.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Show or Hide your folders on the Web App

3. This will take you to the labels tab, where you can see all your folders listed.

To select the folders you want to make visible or not, click the show or hide buttons next to the folder name.

How to create folders in Gmail - How To Show or Hide your folders on the Web App

Wrapping Up

Organizing your inbox can be a pain, but with Gmail folders, it becomes far easier!

You can quickly create, delete, rename, and even assign colors to folders in minutes. And while the mobile app may lack some features, the web app more than makes up for it.

So why not try out these handy Gmail tips and tricks today to organize your inbox easily!

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