Sort Gmail by Sender

A lot of people have asked me if they can sort their Google Mail by sender and I never really understood what they meant. Gmail is basically built on search, not sorting. It doesn’t have very many sorting features because it figures you can use their advanced search features to find any email you like.

I have to agree. In terms of sorting by sender, after talking to my friends, it seemed they wanted a way to go through all the emails that had accumulated in their Inbox and move them to the appropriate labels. They didn’t have filters setup, so obviously sorting by sender would be nice because you can just select 10 emails from one sender quickly and archive them rather than going through each email sorted by date and having to re-do the same work over and over again.

In this article, I’ll mention a couple of ways to hopefully get you the result you want from Gmail. You can basically search for the sender and then see just the emails in the Inbox and then quickly archive or move those emails. If you have a different solution you use for a particular purpose, post a comment here and let us know.

Method 1 – Recent Conversations (Emails)

There is a nifty little feature in Gmail that lets you quickly view all recent conversations with a particular email address. Go ahead and open Gmail and then click on an email. Hover over the name of the person and a pop up will appear:


You’ll see a link at the bottom called Emails. If you click on that, it will bring up all the recent conversations to and from that person.

recent conversations

Note that you can also just do a search in Gmail using the To and From options. If you can’t remember that, you can always click on the small down arrow at the very right side of the search box, which will bring up the search options.

gmail search options

Now that you have the emails from that person, you can quickly move them to the appropriate label by selecting all of them and archiving them.

select all emails

It’ll only select the emails on the first page of results, but you’ll see a box at the top where you can select all the emails that match that search. Of course, this will bring up all the emails from that person whether they are in the inbox or in a label. Yo may just want to see the ones from the Inbox.

match search

Note that if you have a bunch of emails from someone in the Inbox and you want to move them to a label, you can either create a filter and move the current ones plus any future ones or you can add another option in the search called label:inbox. For example, here I am seeing all emails from my friend that are just in the Inbox.

move gmail emails

This makes the process of quickly sorting out the emails from one sender while looking at just the inbox. Then you can go back to the Inbox view and start the search with another email address and then move those to a label and archive them.

Method 2 – Labels & Filters

If you want something a little more permanent, the other solution is to create a label and then create a filter to move all the current and future emails from someone into the new label. You can search and find a thousand tutorials on how to create labels and filters in Gmail, so I won’t repeat any of that here.

Once you have created both the label and filter, then just clicking on it in the left-hand pane will quickly bring up all emails from that sender by date.

label gmail

Again, though, most people are searching for a way to do this in order to archive emails stuck in the Inbox into a label, so setting up labels and filters is useful for not having this problem later on down the road. Enjoy!

Comments [8]

  1. Like almost everyone else that doesn’t see the problem, you fail to grasp the utility in what almost every other mail program and mail web app provides. Sorting gives a very simple way to see the streams of spam that clog up my inbox. If I was able to sort by sender and subject, I could easily remove every piece of junk that slips through the spam filter. I don’t intend on setting up Gmail filters to make up for a very basic feature that never should have been omitted in the first place.

    For anyone else that still uses Gmail and needs a solution, I suggest you install a copy of Thunderbird onto your system and load your Gmail via IMAP. Thunderbird provides easy sorting by clicking on column headers, and once you delete a message in Thunderbird, the corresponding message is removed on the Gmail server. To ensure proper functionality, you must use IMAP, not POP access. To configure your Gmail account to allow IMAP access, check out these instructions:

  2. You like Google and many others just don’t get it. If I want to clean up my inbox, sorting by sender is a fast and effective way. Filtering does squat unless you have an email in mind. I do not know all the senders in my inbox so sorting by sender let’s me purge must faster.

  3. I am sorry, but instead of putting simple column headers for sender, subject, received date…. and enable clicking them to sort the mails (as you can find in almost every mail client), you providing few en-convenient a non-intuitive ways how to do it stating that “Gmail is basically built on search, not sorting”.
    I always though that google mail is NOT google search….


  4. I don’t mean to sound snide, but my friend who is a big time google fan says the same thing and it just doesn’t work.
    Sorting is standard to email clients, it is intuitive. If I want to clean up my email, sorting by sender and deleting what I don’t need is quick and painless. Having to go through and right click on each email to see all by that sender and then delete is tedious. Not to mention, sorting I can visually see that I have 30 emails from Amazon that I can delete. The gmail way deletes those by the email address, which may be five or six from amazon alone.

  5. Similar comment as above. For work, we use Outlook, and I often sort by sender when I’m looking for a particular email, or trying to organize email. And, also use that when I need to purge various advertising or mailing list emails that I receive. Not having this on Gmail is really inconvenient, and seems like a definite oversight on Google’s part. Come on, adding those headings to the system isn’t hard, and would make your users happier with the system. We shouldn’t have to use a different system to get this simple feature. Frustrating…

  6. David is the only one that gets it. I receive hundreds of emails per week. I want to order by sender and see every email in my inbox in one column sorted alphabetically by sender. This allows me to quickly prune my inbox. Gmail is the only Gmail client I’ve seen that doesn’t have this vital feature. I won’t take Gmail seriously until it is usable in this very basic way.

    I use Gmail for my personal email (Outlook professionally), but other than the web access (I can always get into my work server by some form of remote desktop), I’m not a bit fan of Gmail. It’s too bad. Google could make it great.

    The answer can’t be search by sender. I would have to sort by dozens of different senders successively. It takes forever.

  7. Sort features is a must-have feature that GMAIL lacks. Though I use GMAIL for it’s ease of integrating with IMAP clients, and Android, I still hate their web interface and lack of Sort feature.

    Sorting is not same as searching. Searching may help, but are you telling me to got to junk email and searching similar? Sorry, don’t have so much time.

  8. OMG…thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been trying to figure out how to sort my gmail and the hover over the name and click email in the pop-up box is a lifesaver! You made my day…thanks soooooo much!! = )

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