Gmail Labels are the quiet hero of organization and better search, but they are also easily misunderstood.

Here’s what you have to know about Gmail labels to be able to use them better / properly:

  1. Labels are not (just) email filing folders.
  2. A single email can have multiple labels.

Strategy to better label use: Use labels to group emails together that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be found with a single advanced search.

Example: Put a “2022 Taxes” label on each related email as it comes in throughout the year (and then use that label to find those emails at tax time in 2023).

Example: Put a “House Reno” label all emails relating to a home renovation (receipts, quotes, inquiries, contracts, etc). Add a second label to the emails if you want to segment further, for example “Kitchen” or “Bathroom”.

Example: Receiving bills to pay by email? Label “paid” once you pay to see at a glance which have been dealt with.

Then dig into Gmail Advanced Search and learn to search by more than one label, using the text-based search at the top.

Example: “label:house-reno label:bathroom” will search for all emails with both those labels.

Want to Get to Inbox Zero and stay on top of your emails? Check out the mini-course Get Productive with Gmail.

p.s. (Hack #5) This blog post is part of a series called Top 40 Google Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Been Using All Along. Download the whole handy Top 40 Google Hacks PDF.