I get very little spam email - Gmail handles this wonderfully well. However, I get a lot of mail that isn't spam but things like notifications from mailing lists and mail order workflow stuff. This is probably over 90% of my mail.

Does Gmail have a way of creating filters based on whether the email address is in your contact list or not?

3 Answers 3


GMail doesn't filter based on presence in the contact list but it provides incredible filtering options based on combinations of specific fields (e.g. you want to separate Amazon order notifications from their marketing emails).

Here's what I have as my "Notifications" label filter:

(from:facebookmail.com OR from:linkedin.com OR from:foursquare.com OR from:postmaster.twitter.com OR from:[email protected] OR from:friendfeed.com OR from:[email protected] OR from:noreply OR from:[email protected] OR to:meetup.com OR from:do-not-reply) -{subject:buzz OR from:nokia.com OR from:googlegroups.com OR from:groups.yahoo.com OR subject:"google alert"}

First, I define the senders that I want to be filtered, then I add exceptions, such as mailing lists and Google Alerts that are filtered separately.

To start creating a filter click the down arrow on the left of GMail's search box. Then enter the query into Has the words or Doesn't have fields and click Create filter with this search. In the next screen, you'll have a number of options for actions to be taken - choose whatever you need.

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  • Thanks for the detailed response, but the question was really about a specific type of filter and wasn't asking for general help about how to create filters. Jan 23, 2012 at 9:00
  • Please read the first sentence of my response: GMail doesn't support such filtering as you're asking.
    – dnbrv
    Jan 23, 2012 at 12:05

To quickly create a filter:

  • Find an email you want to filter.
  • Open the email
  • Click on More/Filter Messages Like these
  • It will fill in the "to:" box for you.
  • Follow the normal procedures for making a filter, including adding labels, skipping the inbox...

By making one filter per source, you can decide which label goes with each mailing list.

  • Thanks for the response, but the question was really about whether a filter could use the contact list directly. Jan 23, 2012 at 9:02


Some other nice answers here on how to setup filters, but I'm really looking for a way to add a filter that says "if from someone that isn't in my contact list then...". This option is in several other systems so clearly is something that Google must have considered. I presume their preferred approach is the "Priority Inbox" - this seems to gather intelligence based on contact list presence and works pretty well when using the GMail client. Unfortunately, the priority inbox doesn't work so well when viewed in another client.

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