Is there anyway to have Gmail filters work with a nested folder ideology?

Say I have a label structure that includes: "YouTube/TEDEducation", "YouTube/TruthSurge", etc. It is easy enough to match by address and subject to have these two labels work as wanted, automatically. But I also want all YouTube emails that are not previously filtered to be put into the generic "YouTube" main label.

Is this completely impossible without also putting everything else from its sub-labels in this folder?

  • I'd like to cast 2 vote ups on the question and 1 on the only (today) answer Mar 13, 2015 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


I don't think you can (reliably) create a filter that is dependent on an email having (or not having) a particular label. (Emails that enter the Inbox do not have any labels and you cannot control the order in which filters are applied.)

However, it might be possible to negate some of the criteria you have for your nested label filters. For instance, in your "YouTube/TEDEducation" filter you might be checking for "TEDEducation" in the subject. Your "YouTube" filter could filter emails that do not contain "TEDEducation" in the subject (ie. -TEDEducation).

Although it might seem like duplication, you could argue that having all youtube emails labelled "YouTube" (including those that already have the nested labels) would making searching easier, so it's not necessarily a bad thing IMO.

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