Gmail Labels Are Different From Folders


Gmail uses an organization method referred to as labels to manage content. Labels are similar to Outlook categories. Like categories, you can apply one or more labels to a message. With folders a message can only located in one. Like a physical object, it can't be in two places at once.

In Gmail dragging a message to a different label adds that label to the email while removing all other labels, including Inbox. Unfortunately, when you drag from another label to the Inbox, both labels remain on the message. You can also create sub-labels.

If you don't want the message to appear in the Inbox, just click the Archive button when using a web browser to access your Gmail. You can archive messages with or without any labels associated with it.

The Gmail web browser interface has a toolbar has a Move to icon that looks like a folder, and a Labels icon that looks like a label. When you use the Labels tool, Gmail assigns the label you selected leaving other existing labels alone. However, if you use the Move to tool it assigns the label you selected and removes all other labels. This provides the illusion that you've moved the item to a folder.

If you use Outlook with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook while labels will sync to Outlook folders be aware they do not act like traditional Outlook folders. Dragging the message to a different "folder" in Outlook causes Outlook to save a duplicate copy locally of the message. In Gmail the message is not duplicated.

When viewing a label group in Gmail if you "delete" a message you are only removing the selected message(s) from that label group by deleting the associate label. If you "delete" all labels from a message you still have not actually deleted the message. It still resides in a label/group in Gmail called All Mail. To permanently delete a message you must go into this label and delete the message after which Gmail places the item into the Trash. If no other action is done then Gmail automatically deletes messages in the Trash after 30 days.


Need additional help or have issues

For additional assistance contact the IT Services Technical Support Center via phone at (907) 786-4646, toll-free at (877) 633-3888, email us at

Print Article


Article ID: 239
Tue 7/21/20 9:59 AM
Mon 8/15/22 1:59 PM