Setting up an e-mail filter in Gmail, Hotmail or Outlook

organizing inbox

This is a guest post by Charlotte on organizing your inbox. You can read the guidelines for guest posting at our guest posting guidelines page.

If you regularly use one email account and you get a large influx of emails every day, keeping your inbox neat and tidy could be a job in itself. Setting up automatic filters that send your emails to certain folders can help you to keep on top of everything, and it will also ensure you always know where your important emails are kept.

A lot of people assume you need to be a computer whiz to set these filters up, but it can actually only take a couple of minutes and it can be done on all of the major email providers. So, if you’re struggling to sort your emails, follow these simple tips for setting up filters in Gmail, Hotmail or Outlook.


Gmail’s filter system can automatically delete, archive, star or forward your emails and you can set it to work on all messages being sent to you.

To apply a filter you just need to click on the ‘settings’ button in Gmail and then on ‘filter’. You’ll then be shown a criteria box, which allows you to specify what you want Gmail to look out for when searching your emails. You can choose between ‘from’, ‘to’, ‘subject’, ‘doesn’t have’, ‘has the words’ and ‘has attachment’. So, for example, if you wanted all your Facebook emails to go into one folder, you would simply need to set the filter to look for messages being sent from an email address with Facebook mentioned in it.

You can select from a number of actions when applying your filter, including ‘archive’, ‘mark as read’, ‘star it’, ‘apply the label’, ‘forward to’, ‘delete’ and ‘never send it to Spam’. You simply need to select the action you would like and click ‘create filter’.


To set a filter system up in Hotmail, click on the ‘options’ button, select your Hotmail account type (Windows Live or Hotmail), go to ‘mail’ and then select ‘Rules for sorting new messages’ under the ‘Customising Hotmail’ heading. Click on the ‘new’ button on the next screen and you can then start setting up your filters.

You can set your filters to look for any part of the email, such as the subject, the sender’s address or the content. There are various actions you can choose, including ‘move to inbox’,  ‘move to a new folder’, ‘delete’, ‘add category’, ‘remove category’, ‘mobile alert’, ‘flag’ and ‘forward to’. Just choose your action, set your filter and hit save.


Microsoft calls its filter system ‘rules’ and you can set it up based on messages currently in your inbox or for a completely new email address you’re using on Outlook. Assuming you’ve already got some emails though, to set up rules for an existing email address you can right click a message and go to the ‘rules’ option. You can either hit the ‘create rule’ button, or you can select one of the following options – ‘always send messages to’ and ‘always send messages from’. This just means that it’ll always send messages sent to or from a certain person to another folder once the rule’s been set up.

If you want to create a rule with different parameters, choose the ‘create a rule’ option. You can select the following specifications: ‘from’, ‘subject contains’, ‘sent to’, and the actions available include ‘display in the new item alert window’, ‘play sound’ or ‘move to folder’. You can then do this for all of your emails to set up multiple folders.

Tell us how do you organize your inbox by commenting below.

About the Author:

Post contributed by Charlotte Watson for EKM Response. Charlotte is a regular contributor to numerous affiliate marketing and SEO communities. Charlotte is an expert in email marketing and email marketing solutions for those involved in internet entrepreneurship.