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How to set up filters in your email in-box

To set up an email filter, you must

To set up an email filter, you must first identify the type of message you want to filter. Credit: Getty Images/franckreporter

If you’ve had your fill of spam, it’s time to take control of your email box.

Almost every email system allows the user to set up rules (also called filters) to automatically process mail from specific senders.

Whether you use Google Mail (Gmail), Yahoo! Mail, Microsoft Office 365 or another system, the setup process is pretty much the same. First, you need to identify the type of message you want to filter. The email server will search your incoming mail for messages that meet the filtering criteria. You may want to filter based on the sender’s email address, or perhaps words in the subject line or words in the body of the message itself.

Once you tell the system what to look for, you have to tell it what you’d like it to do with those messages once they are found. If the messages are spam or an annoyance, you can have them sent directly to the trash.

If you think you might need that message in the future, you can set a filter to mark that message as "read" and archive it, bypassing the inbox. You can also filter email messages to be forwarded to another address or even forward important emails to your phone as a text message.

In Gmail, the settings icon is a small gear on the upper right corner of the screen. Click the gear, then click See All Settings. In the settings window, you’ll see tabs across the top, choose Filters and Blocked Addresses.

Here you’ll see any filters set up already, plus a link to create a new filter. Click it to bring up the search box so you can search for a message that has the criteria you want to filter.

Enter the search terms and click the create filter link at the bottom. In the create filter box, you can choose from a long list of things to do with the message (skip the inbox, mark as read, star it, apply a label, forward it, delete it). You can then apply the filter to all matching messages and when you are finished, click create filter.

Yahoo! Mail works the same way: open the settings in the upper right corner, look toward the bottom of the settings pane to the more settings link. Inside more settings, you’ll see filters listed on the left column.

Click add new filter and you’ll be asked to give the filter a name, select the criteria to search on and then choose an action. You can have the message moved to the mail archive, trash, junk or any mail folder you’ve set up.

Finally, if you check your mail from an app, like Apple Mail or Outlook, you may have better luck going to your account's webmail page and finding the settings there.

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