How to Make a Label for Unread Emails in Gmail

By David Nield

Gmail enables users to apply filters and labels to manage their inbox.
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One of Gmail's key advantages is the way in which filters can be used to automatically apply labels, automating the management of your personal or company inbox and enabling you to categorize emails. By creating a label for unread messages, you can quickly pick out messages that require attention and haven't yet been dealt with, and Gmail provides several options for customizing how the label appears and is applied to your email inbox.

Log in to Gmail, then type "is:unread" into the Gmail search box and press Enter. The search returns all unread messages, or threads containing unread messages.

Select "Create filter with this search" from the search box drop-down menu.

Check "Apply the label" and select "New label..." Enter a name for the label. If you wish, nest the new label under an existing label via the supplied drop-down menu. Click "Create."

Click "Create filter" to save your settings and apply the filter. The tick box to the right enables you to apply the filter to existing unread messages, if desired.

Choose "Settings" from the Settings menu (looks like a gear). Open the "Labels" tab to edit your unread messages label, such as whether it is always visible on screen. Changes are automatically saved.

Open the drop-down menu by the label on the main Inbox view to pick a new color for the label. Select "Add custom color" if you wish to create a new color in addition to those already provided.


To remove or edit the filter which applies the unread label, use the Filters tab in your Settings, and select "edit" or "delete."

Removing the filter does not remove the unread messages label, and will not de-label messages that have already been marked. Visit the "Labels" page on the settings screen if you wish to remove the label as well.

Gmail includes a hidden unread label which is applied to unread messages but which isn't displayed on screen. Type "label:unread" in the search box and press Enter to see all unread messages on screen.


Gmail does not include the ability to automatically remove labels based on a filter once they have been applied. Once an email has been read, or marked as read, the unread message label must be removed manually.