Organize Gmail using folders (not labels)

(Part of our Organize Gmail Into An Effortless Task Manager guide)

Learn how to concentrate on a handful of folders, instead of 100s of overwhelming emails.

Imagine trying to sit the most important exam of your life, on a sidewalk in New York. You'd have people knocking you as they walk by, curious folks enquiring what you're doing every few minutes, sales people seeing you as an opportunity to approach... It's fair to say you're unlikely to get a good grade.

Of course, in reality we get 3 hours in silence, spaced out from other people, to give it our best shot at achieving a great future.

That's what folders give you in email: they are the easiest way to move tasks and important information out of the bazaar that is your inbox, and into a quiet, focused space.

They'll raise you above the chaos, giving you a fresh perspective on Gmail to see just a handful of projects that you can focus on finishing.

How to create folders in Gmail

  1. Open an email
  2. See the Folder button at the top in the middle? Click it to open the drop down menu
  3. Choose Create New to create a new folder
  4. Give your new folder a name and click Create
  5. The email you were looking at in Step 1 when you created the new folder is added to it automatically
  6. Next time you click a Folder button anywhere in ActiveInbox you'll see your new folder there

How to create a sub folder in Gmail

  1. Make sure you've already created a folder and then click any of the Folder buttons to open the menu
  2. Find the folder you wish to add the sub folder to and click the 'more' button (it looks like three dots stacked on top of each other)
  3. Select Create sub folder
  4. Type in a name for your new sub folder and click Create
  5. If you selected a folder button that was already associated with an email, that will be added to it automatically; if you selected the folder button at the top right, the sub folder will be created without any contents

Removing an email from a folder

  1. If an email is assigned to a folder you'll see the name of that folder in a grey panel on the right hand side of the message
  2. To remove the email from that folder just hove the pointer over the message, open the menu on the folder button and click the name of the folder - it's highlighted in blue
  3. The email will be removed from the folder

How to delete folders in Gmail

  1. Open the Folder menu on any Folder button
  2. Find the folder you want to delete by clicking the 'more' button (it looks like three dots stacked on top of each other)
  3. Select Delete from the menu
  4. When the dialogue box appears, click OK
  5. Your folder is deleted - but any emails inside it are returned safely to your inbox

Focusing on getting things done in a Folder

Above your inbox, you can click the folder icon and open your chosen folder. Once you're in there, you can drag urgent items to the top, or sort it into digestible chunks (e.g. by due date, or person).

Pinning a popular Folder

If you're working a lot on a particular folder, you can pin it as a button so it's much easier to select.