How to Create a Spam Filter in Gmail – (or any other kind of Gmail filter)

Gmail is a terrific service, but like any email program, the ability to create a spam filter is key.  In this tutorial we will review how to create a spam filter in Gmail.  Actually, we aren’t limited to creating a spam-only filter — Gmail easily allows us to create any kind of filter we want.   With Gmail filters you can automatically move selected emails to the archive, you can delete these emails automatically, and you can, among other things, tag these emails with a label.  Let’s get started.

1. First login to Gmail and go to the top right of the search bar. You will see a “create filter” link.  Click that link.


2. The Create a Filter screen will appear.  In this screen you are given multiple options as to how you want to configure your filter.  You can select details such as: from, to, subject, has the words, doesn’t have, or any combination of these filters.  In my example I’ve decided to filter all of the email that comes from Amazon, so in the “From” box I’ve put Amazon.   Note that this selection will find EVERY email with the words Amazon in the “From” portion of the email — so this includes the all of the Amazon emails including Amazon newsletters, shipping confirmations, billing problem emails, web services, etc.  So as an example, if you really wanted to create a filter, say, to only select the shipping confirmation emails, you’d put “[email protected]” in your “from” box.


Once you’ve selected your criteria (here I just put “Amazon”) you can then push the “Test Search” button.  Once you push this button you will see a sample of what the filter you’ve configured would actually do.  If you like what’s come up in your test search results, go ahead and click the “Next Step” button.

3.  The second part of the create filter screen now appears, and here’s where it gets interesting.


I happen to like applying labels to my incoming email.  So in this case I could use the “Apply the label” dropdown to automatically assign a label to every incoming email from Amazon.  Let’s say I wanted to forward every Amaz0n email to a friend….it’s easy using the “Forward it” action.  And if you do want to create a spam filter, you can use the “Delete it”  option to automatically delete emails that meet your criteria the minute they arrive in your inbox.  Gmail filtering is extremely powerful and can really help you streamline your email workflow.

Note that in this screen you will have the option to apply your newly created filter/action to the emails that you already have.  If you wish to do this, you can click the “Also apply filter to x conversations below”, where “x” is the number of emails Gmail has found from your emails that meet your criteria.  The filter will take actions on emails going forward from when you create the filter, so this option allows you to go back to your existing email and apply the filter/action as well.

So that’s how you create a filter (or spam filter) with Gmail. If you have any interesting filters or filter combinations  you’ve created, feel free to share them with the rest of us…

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