Gmail – How To Filter Out Senders Not In Your Contact List

There is a feature that is not available for Gmail that should be, but I have the workaround.  What feature is missing?  The one that lets you separate your email based on whether the sender is in your contact list or not.

While this solution is not perfect, it’s really close.  To make it work, you have to put your contacts into Circles… you know, on Google+.  Once they are in Circles, you can make an Inbox that only shows emails that are in your circles.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go into your gmail settings
  2. Click the “labs” section
  3. Enable “Multiple Inboxes” (use Ctrl+f to find it quickly on that page)
  4. Click “Save” at the bottom
  5. Go back into your settings and go to the Multiple Inboxes section
  6. Under search type
    1. has:circle label:all label:inbox

      • OR
    2. has:circle label:all label:inbox (is:unread OR is:starred)

      • (If you use this one then if you’d like to return to that message then you must start it or mark it unread, or else it will get lost in the list of messages when the inbox page refreshes.)
  7. For Maximum Page size, choose something like 50 so that you get a large sample of messages
  8. For Extra Panels Positioning, select “Above the inbox”


Now the top of your inbox will only contain emails from people in your circles.  You can also filter out people in your Circles by putting a “minus” sign in front of your criteria:


EDIT: Using “has:circle label:all label:inbox” was discovered as a way to have your inbox respect archived messages.  If you only use “has:circle” then archived messages continue to show up in your newly filtered inbox.

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