How to remove the “Sent Mail” label from Gmail messages

May 3, 2012 § 6 Comments

In Gmail, there is only a single copy of every message. All messages live in one place: “All Mail.” Messages can have different labels attached to them. Labels are different from folders, because a single message can have multiple labels attached to it. This allows a single copy of a message to VIRTUALLY show up in many different places. Labels are one of the most powerful features of Gmail. However, effective use of labels sometimes requires a new approach to email organization, and if you happen to be a new user coming to Gmail from another system that uses folders, it might be too much of a hassle to switch your workflow (or your way of thinking). The good news is that you can make Gmail work the way you want.

The “Inbox” is actually a label that is attached to all new messages that arrive in “All Mail.” When you “archive” a message, you are removing the “Inbox” label. The message disappears from the Inbox view, but it still exists in All Mail.

Labels can function like folders when you only have a single label attached to a message. So for example, if I move a message from the Inbox to the Jobs “folder,” what I am actually doing is removing the Inbox label and attaching the Jobs label.

Sent Mail is different. It is NOT a label. It’s actually a search function. When you click on Sent Mail, Gmail searches through the All Mail folder and displays a list of all messages that have your own email address in the From: field.

This works fine for most people, but sometimes you want more control over your Sent Mail, and this is where people run into problems. Unlike the Inbox label, it is not possible to remove the “Sent Mail” label from a message because as I mentioned previously, “Sent Mail” is not a label. It’s a search function that spits out a list of messages.

If you want total control over Sent Mail, the solution is simple: You will first hide the default Sent Mail, create your own “_My Sent Mail” label, and then create a custom filter to add this new label to all messages you send.

Here are the steps (all of these are done on your computer in the Gmail web interface):

  1. Open the Settings by clicking on the Gear (top right of the page)
  2. Click the “Labels” tab
  3. Under System Labels, find “Sent Mail.” Click “hide”. Uncheck “Show in IMAP”
  4. Scroll down and click the button called “Create new label”
  5. Call it “_My Sent Mail” (without the quotes) or something similar. Using an underscore forces this label to appear above any other labels that you might have already created. This will make it convenient to find the label in your long list of labels. Make sure that for this new label, “show” is selected and that “Show in IMAP” is selected.
  6. Click on the Filters tab.
  7. At the bottom, click “Create a new filter”
  8. In the From field, enter your Gmail address
  9. Click “Create filter with this search”
  10. Next, check the box next to “Apply the label” and choose “_My Sent Mail” as the label to apply
  11. OPTIONAL: You can also check the box “Also apply filter to xxx matching conversations” if you want these pre-existing conversations to also get the new label. You probably want to do this.
  12. Click “Create filter”
  13. Now send some test emails to make sure everything works. Try sending an email from the Gmail website and see if it shows up in _My Sent Mail on both the web interface. If you have an iPhone, check it there too. Also try sending an email from your iPhone and make sure it shows up in the correct place.

I tested this method with my iPad and my Gmail account and everything seems to work. You should be able to do this with multiple Gmail accounts too. Good luck!

Short Film: The German

March 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Congratulations to the filmmakers on their achievement.

TED Talk: Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Maybe this will help us all power through our creative obstacles…

They Go to Die…

February 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I recently found out about this documentary by epidemiologist-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Smith. The film follows the lives of African mine workers who must live with HIV and Tuberculosis in the South African mining industry. The documentary is meant to shed light on a health crisis that has not received enough attention. Here is a message from the director:

I am impressed by the tenacity of the filmmakers and the way they have used social media to support the project. This film is a good example for all film students on how the latest technology can be used to support independent film production.

The latest information on this film is available on Twitter at: and on Facebook at:

Note: I am not associated with this project in any way.

War Horse: Visual Storytelling

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Copyright Dreamworks

I recently saw Steven Spielberg’s War Horse at the Highland Park Village Theater (my new favorite place to watch movies). The movie, set against the backdrop of WWI, is about a horse named Joey who is separated from his owner and must travel across the battlefields of Western Europe to eventually make it home. The film is a tear-jerker about friendship, loyalty, and hope in the face of insurmountable challenges – all subjects that Spielberg treats in a masterful way.

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Gran Torino: Why we care about the Grumpy Old Man

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Gran Torino is another movie that has been on my list for a long time. The film is about a crusty Korean War veteran who grudgingly befriends his Asian refugee neighbors and later protects them from a local street gang. It’s a character-driven movie that asks the audience to care about the characters and their relationships.

Getting the audience to care about on-screen characters is one of the biggest challenges of filmmaking, and it’s an area that young filmmakers often struggle with. By comparison, getting your low budget film to “look” like a Hollywood movie is relatively easy.

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Visual Storytelling in “Super 8″

December 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I finally got around to seeing Super 8, which was directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. I was really excited about this film, being a long-time Spielberg fan and also enjoying Abrams’ work on the latest Star Trek film.

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