New Gmail Labels and Folders

The buttons changed places, but the core functionality has remained the same

The latest update to a new version of Gmail has reminded many of us of the frustration related to managing folders and labels in the app, but we're here to help clear up some of the confusion. Google has made the executive decision to put the folder switching icon in the top action bar, but nest the label switching button behind the overflow menu key. This decision had to be made because of the elimination of the bottom action bar, but it still hasn't made it any easier to explain the difference between switching folders and switching labels on an email (or set of emails). Let's break it down really quick.

From the single email view (for sake of simplicity), tapping the top action bar button that looks like an open manila folder will pop up a familiar interface for switching that given email to a new folder. Those who have created new specialized folders (aka labels) will see a list of options where they can then send that email. Tapping any of these folders will completely remove the email from your inbox (or any other folder it was previously in) and place it in that new folder, effectively archiving it.

New Gmail Folders New Gmail Labels

This differs from simply adding labels to an email, which is now handled with a tap on the menu button and another tap on "Change labels". A similar interface will pop up, giving you a list of available labels with checkboxes next to each. Adding labels by checking the appropriate boxes does not remove the email from your inbox, but rather just labels it in addition to the inbox label. It's a subtle but important distinction that will keep you from losing emails to random folders you've created.

This can be a tough one to wrap your head around, even without the new Gmail update changing the button placement. Stick around with us after the break for a quick video walkthrough of how to manage your labels and folders in the new Gmail interface.