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Gmail is my primary address used for work, and it’s a constant deluge of incoming missives from all over the world and for every kind of purpose. Because so much email comes into that account, it’s pretty easy to miss things. That’s why Google has added a pretty powerful search filter tool that simplifies the process of filtering your email according to your needs.

Let’s say, for example, you get a specific email daily that includes the word backup (maybe you’ve created a backup solution that emails you with alerts). You certainly do not want to miss that email. So how do you prevent that email from getting lost in the flood? You create a filter.

Let me show you how.

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What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need for this is a Google account, so log in and get ready.

How to create a search filter

Creating a search filter is done in the advanced search tool. To access the tool, click the settings icon at the right edge of the Gmail search bar (Figure A).

Figure A

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The Gmail search bar and associated settings icon.

Click the settings icon to reveal the popup search filter (Figure B).

Figure B

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The Gmail advanced search filter popup.

Let’s say, for the sake of simplicity, that you want to create a filter that will mark any incoming email with the word backup in the subject as important. You can obviously get far more granular with this, such as searching for words within the body of the email, defining a size or a date, adding senders and/or recipients, define specific locations and even define if the email has an attachment. But for our example, we’ll type backup in the subject and click Create filter.

In the resulting popup (Figure C), select Always Mark It As Important and click Create Filter.

Figure C

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. What to do with any email matching our criteria?

Now, when any email comes in with the term backup in the subject (it can be just part of the subject), you’ll find that email listed in the Important label (Figure D).

Figure D

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The Important label as found in the compact Gmail layout.

Of course, you can always get far more creative with your Search Filters, but you now have an idea of how you can make them work for you. With this handy tool, you can easily filter any email you need and have it automatically acted on, so you don’t miss those important communications.

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