Removing A Label From Multiple Emails in GMail

Executive summary:

  1. Locate and edit filter to eliminate unwanted tags from incoming messages.
  2. Remove unwanted tags from any existing effected messages


I normally write political stuff in these pages, but, since the method to do this was rather simple, but hard to find information on, I thought I’d provide a “tech tip” for those, like me, who use GMail despite that the company is run by a gaggle of liberal putzes.

Gmail Menu

I recently decided that I valued the mail from WebMD as something more than just ads for their site. Previously, all WebMD was filtered as both “ads” and “promotions,” making them rather easy to hunt up for deletion. So, simple me: I went into GMail’s Settings menu and picked Filters and Blocked Addresses. 

Next, I used the browser’s search-on-page (usually ctrl-f) feature to find WebMD among the saved filters. When I found it, I clicked the word “edit” to the right of its entry. From the resulting window, click the word”Continue” at the bottom right. A new list of checkboxes appears. Since I was already filtering these emails, the “Apply the label” check box was checked and the last-applied label was shown in the text box to the right of it. I clicked this box to reveal the list of possible labels, and selected “Health.”


Before clicking “Update Filter”, be sure to check the box next to “apply to XX matching conversations” to apply the new label to all the emails you found in your inbox.


Well, now! That should have done it, right? Bzzzzt! That only added the Health label – it had no effect on “Ads” or “Promotions” labels already applied – Doh!

Here’s how to eliminate the unwanted labels: In your inbox search (part of the GMail user interface; not ctrl-f used earlier), enter “from: ” followed by enough of the sender’s email address to uniquely and completely identify what you’re after. Note that you can use “to: ” if the sender of interest sends to a unique address – like a listname – or “subject: ” or nothing at all to qualify your search term – you just need to ensure it pulls in all emails of interest for your relabeling effort. As I stated earlier, I used the “from: ” address.

gmail search

Now, click the selection box, and click “All” to select all of the emails resulting from your search.


Finally, click on the little tag icon, and then click off the checkboxes next to any label you no longer want associated with those conversations. Click “Apply” at the bottom to make it so.


The two critical steps of this process – editing your filter and removing unwanted tags – have solved your problem. These emails will no longer show up under any labels except those which you left active.

You’re welcome.


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