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I created a filter that matches all the automated messages sent from a service, marks them as read, archives them (skips the inbox), and adds an "Automated" label.

This works great most of the time, but sometimes a colleague or customer who receives a copy of one of these messages will "reply" to one of these messages, sending their comments in a message to me. I need these replies to be treated as important, unread messages that arrive in my inbox so I won't miss them!

I have tried adding a "not from these addresses" rule to my filter to try to get it to NOT match the filter when it's from one of these addresses (colleague/customer). But this doesn't seem to work because Gmail aggregates the customer's reply into the same "conversation" and the filter has ALREADY matched and been applied to that conversation (because the earlier message(s) in the conversation were automated messages that DID match all of its criteria).

What would be a good solution be? Other ideas I've thought of...

  1. Add another filter that matches all mail sent from my customer and moves it back to the Inbox. I think this would work as long as this filter came after the other filter. The problem is, I don't see "Move to inbox" or "Mark as unread" listed as an option in the edit filter box. The only related option is "Apply the label:" but "Inbox" isn't listed as one of the label options. Am I missing something?
  2. Ask my customer to always change the subject line when replying so that Gmail won't group it in the same conversation. (This is not an acceptable solution because it relies on them to change their habits, which I have no control over...)
  3. Turn off Conversations for all my e-mail. (This is not an option, because most of the time having things grouped into conversations is helpful...)

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Sounds like a feature request for "mute" to be made available as a filter action. Maybe you can use mute in combination with something else? –  user29020 Feb 23 at 2:16
    
Are you suggesting a make a request for a "mute" option? I don't see mute listed as a filter action currently. If it were an action, it would only help if there was an "unmute" action I could use to unmute the conversation if a later filter matched an important message that came in and was grouped in the previously-muted conversation... I'm not sure what "mute" would do though. What I'd really like, I guess, is for the important message that arrived later to not even be grouped with the (automated message) "conversation" that my filter had already archived and marked as read... –  Tyler Rick Feb 27 at 20:02
    
It would be helpful to have some more specifics about what the header information of the "automated" emails actually look like. Is it a mailing list? What's the "to" field? Is there a constant set of words in the subject? E.g. the "[my-society]" part of this subject line: "[my-society] Conference coming up!". Also, what are the specific properties of the "reply" you mention? Is the mailing list included in the reply address? Or are you the sole recipient of the "reply"? –  user29020 2 days ago
    
You should specify or show screenshots of the exact filter that you're currently using to identify those "automated" emails. Else, there's not much of a way to help you. –  user29020 2 days ago

2 Answers 2

This answer assumes that all of the automated emails are sent from the same address.

I'm not sure how you've created your filter, but try filtering by the from: field only. If the automated sender's address is always something like no-reply@domain.com then set up your filter to filter on:

from: no-reply@domain.com

This will make sure all automated email will hit the filter. Then, when someone else replies to that address, the new sender's email will be different from the one listed in the filter, and allow it to hit the inbox as normal.

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Thanks for the suggestion, but the message's from field is variable (the message is sent by the service on behalf of the individual so it is sent with that individual's address as the from address). –  Tyler Rick Jan 4 '13 at 19:10
    
But even if the messages WERE all from the same sender, I don't think this would solve the problem, because when the new (important) reply comes in, it automatically gets included in the existing CONVERSATION, and the CONVERSATION has ALREADY been archived because the first messages in that conversation WERE from no-reply@domain.com. Thanks again for the suggestion though. –  Tyler Rick Jan 4 '13 at 19:12
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Actually, when new emails are sent, the conversation will be added to your inbox as normal. Each piece of the threaded conversation is treated differently, so even if the original sender filters it out of the inbox, the new (important) sender will throw the conversation back into the inbox and mark the thread as "unread" –  OnenOnlyWalter Jan 4 '13 at 19:29
    
Also, if you are trying to filter out any email from a particular domain, then try adding a * instead of the username. Example: *@domain.com will search and filter for any user's email from that particular domain. –  OnenOnlyWalter Jan 4 '13 at 19:32

Without more information about your specific situation, here is a possible solution:

You have two requests:

  1. Messages that are not to you, but are related to the listserve should be archived and labeled "automated" and also marked as read.
  2. Messages that are between you and others that are related to the listserve should be marked as "important".

Assuming:

  • The initial messages that you want to label as "automated" do not have your address in the "to:" field of the message. They do have the "to:" address as the mailing list's address, such as "xyz-list@example.com" but they get to you because the "deliver-to:" address is your address.
  • Your colleague is not "replying" to the whole listserve, but that you are on the "to:" field of their message to you.
  • Mailing list messages have a common text prefix (e.g. subject is "[xyz-list] Meeting coming up").

Then:

(1) Set up a filter to label new messages from a mailing list as "automated" using the "to:" field:

  1. Identify one of the messages.
  2. Find the "to:" field by hovering over the "to" in the message view.
  3. Set up a filter that's based on this "to:" address, e.g. "to:xyz-list@example.com".
  4. Set up the filter to A) skip the inbox and B) mark it as read and C) label the message as "automated".

Suppose you and a colleague receive a message from the mailing list. Yours gets labeled "automated" and archived as read. Good.

And now suppose a colleague who sees the message and wants to talk to you about it. They "forward" or "reply" the message to you (not to the mailing list address). Since the first filter only operates on messages that are "to:" the mailing list, you will have the colleague's message in your inbox, unread. The whole conversation will show up (sorry, but that's how conversation threads work), but that's a small price to pay.

(2) Now, how do you go about making those messages also "important"? Set up another filter. This one is going to detect the listserve using a different method:

  1. Identify a common subject prefix used in the mailing list. (e.g. "[xyz-list]")
  2. Set up a filter based on the subject or body to identify them. (Note that "list:xyz-list.mail.example.com" will not match to your colleague's message to you.)
  3. Set the filter to mark as important.
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