I have set up a variety of Gmail filters to help manage my email and now I need to change a few of them. How do I update Gmail filters?
The process of creating Gmail email filters and updating them is quite different because I think that the Gmail team figures most people will be creating lots of filters but never changing them! If you don’t have any filters yet, oh, you’re missing out too; they’re one of the best things ever for email and I’m a huge fan. Learn how to set ’em up here: How to create Gmail email filters.
It’s not uncommon to need these updated, though, muchly because the Internet definitely doesn’t just stay in stasis. Whether it’s companies being acquired by others, services being updated or changed or just friends – or frenemies! – changing email addresses, email filters are terrific, but being able to update them is pretty critical.
While creating filters is conveniently on the shortcut menus in Gmail, your filter database is all tucked into the 90’s era Gmail Settings area, so take a deep breath, buckle up your spaceboots and let’s jump in…
Choose “Settings” from the gear menu, then make sure you’ve moved to “Filters and Blocked Addresses” on the tab list:
Did you know you could block email addresses entirely in Gmail? Helpful if you have a stalker or crazy ex. Learn more here: how to block email addresses in Gmail.
There’s no easy way to search through all the Gmail filters to find the one you want, so if you have quite a few (I have at least 50) it’s a bit tedious to scroll down and find the one you want. Once you do, however, you can proceed. I’ll demonstrate with my Boulder Public Library filter:
You can delete the filter entirely if you want but click on “edit” to proceed. Then it’ll show you the two elements of the filter in steps, starting with the matching rule or rules you’ve specified:
In this instance, the rule’s easy: email that is from boulderlibrary.org. You might well have far more complicated rules established. This is also where you’ll want to make the changes to your Gmail filters too, whether it’s updating the from, the to, checking keywords or a subject pattern (and remember email lists with fixed subject prefixes are perfectly valid to target!). Make the changes you want and test them if you’d prefer by clicking on “Search” or, if you’re sure it’s all good, click on “Continue” to proceed.
Next up is the second element of a Gmail filter, the action or behavior you want from Gmail once a message has matched your filter:
Lots and lots of options. Probably you’ll keep these as-is but if you want to change things, it’s easy to do that too, as you can see. Done and happy with all your modifications? Click on “Update filter” and you just updated your Gmail filter! Woot!
Pro Tip: I’ve written quite a bit about Gmail over the years. Please do check out my Gmail help area for lots more tutorials!