Is there a way to get Gmail to automatically assign tags to conversations if they come from a mailing list?

It would be a start if Gmail could apply say a "Lists" label to all lists, but even better if it could detect the subject of the lists and apply that tag to conversations from that list.

Edit: I just wanted to clarify that I'd like to know if there's a way that Gmail can create filters automatically.

I know how to create filters for my lists, but as I recently moved from using a desktop app to the Gmail interface, and given that I'm subscribed to quite a number of lists, I'd rather not create all the filters manually again.

5 Answers 5


Not automatically you can't.

You can set up a very generic filter that should capture most of the legit mailing lists that you're subscribed to.

Create a filter with the following:

  • Has the words: unsubscribe
  • Apply the label: lists

This will deal with most of the mailing lists since they should all include instructions, if not a link itself, to unsubscribe.

This should also cover those instances where the mailer addresses the To: field of the email directly to you and which might be a little tricky when filtering for to:me.

  • Unfortunately you may get some false positives, but that should be on the fairly small side. @jfo Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 16:17

Kind of...

There is the Show Indicator feature:

Settings->General->Personal level indicators

Show indicators - Display an arrow ( › ) by messages sent to my address (not a mailing list), and a double arrow ( » ) by messages sent only to me.

  • This one is actually quite good, the thing is there's no way to filter on these indicators...
    – jfoucher
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 15:16
  • to:me search will give you all the >> and > items
    – drye
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 15:45
  • and... -to:me will give you everything else
    – drye
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 15:47

When viewing an email from the mailing list click on the arrow at the right upper corner of the email and choose "Filter messages like this". It will suggest you the rules for the filter you are going to create. You can change them. On the next step choose the options telling what to do. In your case check "Apply the label" and choose the label or create a new one.

Hope it helps you.


With the new Inbox I think you'll find that by-and-large mailing list posts will end up under the "Updates" tab. Mine certainly do (except, perhaps, for some that are using custom mailing list software that Google doesn't know about).


The mailing list must certainly have a easy to find distinguishing characteristic you can filter on.

Sometimes that's a tag in the subject: [widgets]

Failing that, the messages from the list certainly come from the same e-mail address.

Either way they're easy to set filters for.

For myself, I use the Nested Labels labs feature. All of my mailing lists get marked with individual labels: Lists/Widgets, Lists/Gadgets, etc. But then they all "collapse" under "Lists".

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