I'm a new GMail user, and I'm trying to figure out how to make labels work smoothly.

When I assign a label to an incoming message, it disappears from the inbox and appears in the folder(s) it has been assigned to. This is perfect.

When I assign a label to an outgoing message, it stays right where it is. It doesn't disappear from the Sent Mail folder. It doesn't even appear in the assigned folder(s). It just acquires a tag with the label name, which is useless.

I thought that clicking the Move to Inbox button might solve this. I found that it doesn't move a message to the Inbox; it just adds a "Inbox" tag to the subject line, which not only doesn't help, but doesn't even make sense.

I've looked for solutions to this problem in Support, but I didn't find any good ones. One was to assign the label before sending the message, which may solve some other problem, but doesn't affect this one. Another was to CC myself on every message I send and label the incoming copy, which sort of solves the problem, but replaces it with an equally bad one: it makes outgoing and incoming messages almost impossible to distinguish.

  • How about Skip the Inbox (Archive it)?
    – Alex
    Sep 12, 2012 at 18:48

3 Answers 3


Try not to treat Labels as Folders.

Messages in your Sent folder are just those your archive that you sent yourself (they don't need to have label whatsoever). When you add a label to them, they will appear in that label, and of course they will stay appearing in Sent because you sent them. (I testes it myself, outgoing mail with a label are showed when you open that label.

What you say about Move to Inbox; Inbox is just a label like another. The only 2 things special about it is that all new incoming messages get the Inbox label (except when you have set up a filter to let messages skip the Inbox) and that the Inbox label is your Gmail homepage.

I hope this helps you, if I did not answer your question then I didn't understand it, please make it more clear than and I'll retry.

  • 1
    Just to draw more attention to Steven's first point "Try not to treat Labels as Folders." Oct 6, 2012 at 21:27

Sent mail isn't a folder, it is a special filter where the from equals ME.

Your incoming filter has the mail skip the inbox because that is the option you selected.

While you can and should slap a label onto an outgoing message, it is working exactly as it was designed.

That outgoing message has been tagged with "sent" and "yourlabel". The message can be found under label:sent, it can be found under label:yourlabel; and it can be found under "label:send label:yourlabel"

It should never lose the sent label, nor should you ever want to strip that label from the message.


Upon trying to reproduce your problem, I did the following:

  1. Went into Sent Mail
  2. Took a message that had no label and added a label to it.

When I checked that label, my message did not appear there. The fix to make it appear is to hit the refresh icon (see image below). I'm assuming this was your issue.

Refresh Button - GMail

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