The tricks for using Gmail folders vs. labels

Brenda Wilson recently switched from Outlook to Gmail. Now she’s “trying to get my head wrapped around the whole ‘label’ thing. When I moved an email to a folder in Outlook. it no longer appeared in my Inbox.” That’s not the case with Gmail.

Gmail can confuse people used to other email clients, and the concept of labels causes a lot of that confusion. Labels don’t quite behave like folders, although sometimes they do. Because you can attach multiple labels onto a single conversation, you have far more options.

(Remember that Gmail, by default, organizes not by individual messages but by conversations, each of which contains an original message and all of the replies to that message.)

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to [email protected].]

In a folder-based mail client, such as Outlook, you can move an email from your Inbox folder to, say, the Agnes’ Wedding folder. When you do so, it disappears from the Inbox. Like a physical object, it can’t be in two places at once.

But you can put any number of labels on a physical object—and on a Gmail conversation. You can assign the Agnes’ Wedding label to a conversation, and it will appear in both Agnes’ Wedding and the Inbox.

If you don’t want it in the Inbox, just click the Archive button. You can even archive a conversation without any labels.

A lot of people use Gmail labels like folders, and Gmail makes that easy. The Gmail toolbar has a Move to icon that looks like a folder, and a Labels icon that looks like a label.

2 Comments
  1. Reply Sherry 05.09.2016 at 17:45

    I just hate gmail service… No matter how hard i try to deal with its features i keep failing at it. Of course your advices may help a bit but i don`t put too much faith into it. Perhaps gmail wasn`t made for me 🙂

  2. Reply Alice 28.09.2016 at 22:41

    For those who have been using Outlook it may need some getting used to but once you get your bearings it proves a most handy email client. Not to mention the fact that you hardly ever get any junk mail.

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