This tip is for those of you that get a lot of email and like to keep it organized. In my position, I get a fair amount of email each day, probably around 200 per day not counting SPAM. As such it is a constant battle to stay on top of those emails and keep them organized.

In the old days, we used to drag and drop messages into folders in Outlook Web Access or any other IMAP mail client and that was a good way to keep them organized.

In a previous tech tip (The Art of Email) I shared how I now process my email each day and try and try to have zero messages in my inbox. A big part of that strategy is using a filter to move messages that I don’t need to read, to a folder where I can find them if needed.

I wanted to revisit the whole idea of using filters again to highlight the great advantage of pre-filtering your email and automatically applying labels to your messages.

Again in the Art of Email the A = Archive and simply put that removes the message from your inbox but leaves it in your All Mail folder so you can find it later using the search feature. The filtering option allows you to also label the message with one (or more) labels to make that message easier to find.  Those messages (e.g. Payment Notifications or Listserve messages) are usually from the same address every time so it is easy to create a filter to label those messages and skip the inbox.

But to take the process a step further, what about if you wanted to have every message from a group of people (in my case a district) all get labeled with the same label. All you have to do is use a wildcard in the query that you use to create the filter. Here are the instructions.

  1. Open a message that fits the criterion you are after. In the example, it is a message from someone from Washington Local schools. Click the 3 dots menu and choose “Filter messages like these”

  1. Edit the search criteria (the address in the from: field) replace the username with an asterisk (*). The asterisk is a wildcard that changes the query to say any user from that domain.

  1. Click the Create Filter button. 
  2. Choose the label for your filter and click “Also apply filter to matching conversations” to label all existing messages that match the criteria.

  1. Click Create Filter to finish the filter and apply to your current messages.

You will know the filter is working as your message now has the filter applied.

Now that the message is labeled I can Archive it and it will appear in the Washington Local folder any time that I want to find it. Archiving will remove the inbox label and leave the other labels intact. Messages with no labels are found in the All Mail folder.


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