I try to label every single conversation that is in my Gmail inbox. For incoming mails this is super straightforward. I just hit L, type the first few letters of my desired label and hit Enter. So far so good.

However if I want to start a conversation I have no chance to label it. I would love to label it just before I hit the "send" button. Since this doesn't seem to be possible, I always do this:

  • click "Send"
  • go to "Sent Mail"
  • Tick the checkbox in front of the mail I just sent
  • Press L, type label, press Enter

Gmail somehow tries to make me fire and forget my sent mails. I really hate this. Is there any way to label emails as you write them?

9 Answers 9


It is now possible to label and/or "star" messages when you send them.

Official Gmail Blog: Star and label messages before you send them

When composing a new message, you can assign labels or star it by using the labels drop-down menu. As you’d expect, recipients of messages organized this way won’t see your labels or stars.

This is the new compose window:
Press the down arrow in the lower right, then choose "Label".

This is the old compose window:

  • I just saw it as well. FINALLY. It is always shocking to me to see how long it takes Google to solve such obvious low hanging fruits.
    – mbrochh
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 3:20
  • 1
    This is now possible in the new compose as well.
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 18:59
  • Don't find this now with the new look. I don't get anything like your screen when I compose a message. All the text widgits are at the bottom, and there is no label Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 23:54
  • @Sherwood: I've updated with a screen shot of the new compose window.
    – ale
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 13:48

You can partially solve this using filters, if outgoing emails could be found with them. I do this for some frequent mail recipients, using filters on "To:" field and "Apply the label:" as action.

  • 1
    Good answer! I even already do this and it helps a lot but still the few uncommon recipients which don't have filters yet, bother me :)
    – mbrochh
    Commented Jul 9, 2010 at 11:16

You can apply labels to drafts, and they seem to stick after the message is sent. To do this, you have to start the message using the "Compose mail" link (or 'c' shortcut), save it as a draft, then open it via the "Drafts" section. It's an extra step, but since I often write messages and come back to them later to polish and send it works for me.


I recently found a workaround that is good enough for me: After sending an email Googlemail shows a message like "Your message has been send. View message". If you are quick enough to click at "View message" you see your just sent message again and then can use the "L" key to label it quickly.

At least this is one click less than and much faster loading time than clicking at "Sent" and then at the just sent message.


Best way I've found to do this is to:

  • Compose mails in a new window (shortcut is "C" (Shift + c) or you can just click the icon in the top right).
  • In the original window, go to your drafts folder and label the message as you wish.
  • Continue composing your message and send it - the label will remain.

Update May 2012:

I just noticed that you can now do this when composing a mail - YAY!

See this screenshot for proof


This is a bit hackish, but I've found it works relatively well:

Let's say you want to label some outgoing messages as "Family."

First set up a filter, all messages sent to [email protected] get labeled "Family." I'd also recommend having these emails "skip the inbox" - you might also want them to be marked as read.

Then, bcc [email protected] on any messages that you want to label as Family.


Starting today you can actually do that. From the official blog post:

When composing a new message, you can assign labels or star it by using the labels drop-down menu. As you’d expect, recipients of messages organized this way won’t see your labels or stars.


How about you cc yourself? There will be a copy at the inbox waiting for you to select, "l" and label appropriately


If any one is still interested, you just need to use the following search:

(from:([email protected]) OR to:([email protected]))

And create your filter from the results. If you choose to apply a label, then both incoming and outgoing messages will have the label applied.

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