How to get notifications of specific Gmail messages on your Android phone

Try this trick to stay on top of important email while staying out of your inbox.

woman using cell phone

While it’s true that being a slave to your email is bad for your productivity, there are messages that require an immediate response. But you don’t have to keep an eagle eye on your inbox to stay on top of them. If you use Gmail and an Android phone, you can set up notifications for specific emails so you’ll be alerted the minute its received. Here’s how.

Create a filter

Although the goal here is to receive notification of specific emails on your phone, you need to set up the process in Gmail’s web client.

Open Gmail in your browser, then click the gear icon in the upper-right and select Settings. Next, select the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab. Click the Create a new filter link in the middle of the page.

gmail filter one PCWorld

To set up phone notifications, you first have to set up a filter in Gmail.

A new window will open where you’ll define the criteria for your filter. You can filter by sender, recipient, keywords, whether the message has an attachment, and more. For this example, I want to make sure I’m notified of any messages from my editor, so I’ll enter her email address in the From field.

When you’ve finished filling out the appropriate fields, click the Create filter with this search link at the bottom of the window.

Another window will open where you can tell Gmail what to do with messages that meet the criteria you just set. We want it to label these messages, so check the box next to Apply the label. Next, click on the Choose a label drop-down menu. You’ll see a list of the labels you currently use in Gmail. However, we want to make a new one, so select New label, and enter a descriptive name in appropriate field. When you’re done, click Create.

gmail filter two PCWorld

On the second screen, you’ll tell Gmail what to do with the messages that meet the filter criteria you’ve set.

This will take you back to the previous window. If you want to, you can retroactively apply your new filter to existing messages by checking the box next to Also apply filter to XX matching conversations at the bottom of the window. Finally, click Create filter.

Set up notifications on your phone

Launch the Gmail app on your phone, slide open the menu, scroll down to the bottom, and select Settings. In the next window, select the email account where you created the filter. Scroll down and select Manage labels. Another window will open; select the inbox you’re using—it should be the one at the top of the list.

manage labels PCWorld

Select Manage labels from the Settings menu in your Gmail app to set up phone notifications.

Since you only want to be notified of particular messages, uncheck the box next to Label notifications. Return to the previous screen, scroll through your labels and select the one you just created. On the next page, select Sync messages, then in the pop-up window, select Sync: Last 30 days. This will load all messages with this label to your phone.

You’ll automatically return to the previous page. Here, check the box next to Label notifications. Then check the box next to Notify for every message.

That’s it—you’ll now receive a notification on your phone each time you receive your specified emails!

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