Webmail by Google uses labels instead of folders to manage email messages in the mailbox. All new incoming mail messages received by Gmail are automatically labeled as “Inbox." Additionally, you can add as many labels as you wish to help you identify your email.

If you are migrating from MS Outlook, you are used to using folders. Here are the major differences between labels and folders:



A message can have many labels You can only put a message in one folder
A message can be in several locations (Inbox, All Mail, Sent Mail, etc.) at once, making it easier to find later You have to remember where you filed a message to retrieve it
You can search messages by labels You can't always do folder-specific searches

 Below is the list of Gmail-defined labels that are tagged to your mail messages automatically:

  • inbox – Applied to all new email messages unless archived or moved to a different folder with a pre-set filter.
  • star (or starred) – Gmail uses stars to mark important mail messages.
  • draft – Applied to unfinished emails. You can also save a draft by clicking the “Save Now” button.
  • sent – Applied to all sent messages.
  • sent mail – Applied to all replied mails or sent emails that receive replies.
  • chat (or chats) – Google Chat saves chat history as emails. Your chats will automatically have a "Chat" label applied.
  • trash: Applied to all deleted messages.
  • spam: Applied to emails rejected by the Gmail spam filter.
  • read – Applied to read mail.
  • unread – Applied to unread mail.
  • voicemail (or voicemails) – Applies to voicemails received from a Google Talk user.
  • mute – Applied to conversations when they are muted.

Searching in Webmail by Google:

Emails with labels can be searched using “label:”, “is:”, or “in:” operators, which are normally interchangeable. You can use any of the labels above to restrict and limit the search results, and combine multiple labels to search. For example, “is:sent is:unread” will display all received email that you haven’t read that you previously replied to. It’s also simple to exclude a category from the search result by simply adding a “-” (dash or minus sign) in front of the label. For example, “label:-sent” will exclude all sent items. For more information on searching with Gmail, please click here.

Things to remember when naming labels:

  • A label name can be a maximum of 225 characters.
  • The forward slash character "/" is a reserved character in Gmail; you cannot use this character in label names.

For information on creating, editing, and deleting labels, please click here.

Last Updated: August 25, 2017