Working with Gmail



This document contains information and instructions for the best ways to work with Gmail.

Mail labels and filters



Labels “tag” emails according to specific topics you create. When a new label is created, it appears in the left sidebar of your Inbox. Messages in your Inbox will also show any labels assigned to them.


Create labels to organize Gmail

Best Practices

  • Avoid symbols when creating labels. 
  • Include numbers on labels that you’d like to appear first in the label list, as they show in alphabetical order.
  • Assign colors to your most-used labels to help identify those emails in your Inbox. 
  • Use sub­labels to create a label hierarchy when needed.

Follow the process for creating a new label, but also select Nest label under and choose the correct parent label.

  • Use fewer than 5,000 labels, including nested labels. Too many labels can slow your email processing. 



De­clutter your inbox by creating Filters to organize your emails according to the criteria that you provide.
Filters can Label, Archive, Delete, send to Spam, Star, or Forward your mail before it hits your Inbox.


To create a filter, edit or delete filters, and export or import filters see Create rules to filter your emails.

Best practices

  • Skip the inbox can be extremely useful for emails that do not have to be acted on immediately. Be sure your filter is not too broad or it can tag unintended messages.
  • Export or Import filters that you want to use in another account or share.
  • Advanced Search operators can also be used for setting up Filters.

Manage large volumes of email


If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the email in your inbox, try some of the tips below. Google is constantly changing to improve our mail experience.


  • By enabling and using keyboard shortcuts, you can manage your inbox quicker than using a mouse.
  • Turning on conversation view arranges the replies and forwards of an email into a threaded "conversation" taking up less space in your inbox.
  • With the Chrome web browser, press Shift while clicking on the Compose button to compose a new message in a new window. Use this to keep open the more urgent messages while cleaning up your inbox. 
  • Set up filters to automatically apply labels to current and incoming messages, even have them bypass the inbox.
  • With email templates, you can save email content and add it to new messages by selecting it from a drop-down menu. 

More information

Try the G Suite Learning Center for more ideas.

Work with attached files



You can send emails with attachments of up to 25 MB and receive attachments of up to 50 MB. Google Drive or another file-sharing service (e.g., U-M Box) must be used to send email attachments larger than 25 MB.


To help prevent viruses, some file types are blocked. Attachments in Gmail messages you send and receive are automatically scanned for viruses.

Best practices for Gmail

  • Find the Inbox Style that best meets your organizational needs.

 With Important first and Priority Inbox, Google anticipates which messages will be most important to you and they appear first in your inbox. You can train Google’s intelligent learning engine by re-marking incorrectly sorted emails

  • Try Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts. Once you get used to them, they save time!  Press Shift ​and the ? ​key while in your email to open a window with a list of the keyboard shortcuts. 
  • Mute conversation threads when you don’t need to see them in your inbox. Type is: muted ​in the search box to find archived muted conversation threads.


Last Updated: 
Friday, September 1, 2017