How to automatically sort your incoming mail

You can easily set up your email system to automatically sort your incoming mail into several folders.

This really helps with lists like the WGBackfence eList, newsletter lists, and emails from LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. (Or just to send every note on a certain subject or from a certain person to a special folder -- like "Trash" <smile>)

Directions are included below for Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Thunderbird, Mac, and a workaround for AOL.

Once it is set up, all the messages from the list, forum, or newsletter are automatically placed in one folder so that you can deal with them at your convenience:
*  You can quickly scan the new messages by subject line or author and delete the ones you are not interested in.
*  Since they are individual messages – rather than lumped into a giant single daily digest – you can easily participate by replying to either the message author or to the entire group.
*  And, since each message goes into the folder “in real time” rather than setting in the webhost’s server queue, you have the ability to respond immediately to the various offers of free stuff!

Once you take a couple of minutes to set up your email to automatically sort major topics out of your incoming mail, you will never want to go back to having one overwhelming random inbox!

How to do it:

1. Create a folder in your email program. (If you name the folder with an exclamation point or hyphen as the first character – for example, ! WG or -WG – it will be first in the alphabetical list of folders.)

2. Make a filter that sends all incoming messages with "WGBackfence" in the subject line to the ! WG folder:

* Yahoo Mail: Yahoo Mail: gear icon > "Settings" > "Filters" then "Add." 
Yahoo's official pictorial directions:
Enter [WGBackfence]  -- the brackets are necessary -- in both the "Filter Name" and "subject" fields and leave the other three criteria boxes blank.

* Gmail: "Settings" icon (a gear) / select "Settings" / then the "Filters" tab.
* Hotmail – Full Version: "Options" / "More Options" / "Automatically sort e-mail into folders"
* Hotmail – Classic Version: "Options" / "Automatically sort e-mail into folders"
* Outlook 2003, 2007: "Tools" / "Rules and Alerts"
* Outlook 2010: "Rules" in the Move group of the Home top menu
* Outlook Express 5 or 6: "Tools" / "Message Rules" / "Mail"
* Outlook Express 4: "Tools" / "Inbox Assistant" / "Add"
* Eudora: "Filters"
* Thunderbird: "Tools" / "Message Filters". Select account and folder in the dropdown menus. "New". Name the filter. You can have multiple filter criteria and multiple actions. Select when it is to be run.
* EarthLink Web Mail: No filtering capability; move emails manually to folder and read later.
* Apple Mail: "Mail" / "Preferences" / "Rules" (For additional email processing capabilities, one member recommends two Mail add-ons: MailTags and Act-On from Indev Software.)
* AOL: Members report that AOL's very old mail reader doesn't provide this capability  (
You can create a folder by right-clicking in the "My Mail Folder" at the "Saved on AOL" line, but you have to manually move the individual emails across.  They are easily found: at the green "Quick Find" box at upper right, type "[WGB" and all the emails are listed.  Click at the top of the list, then <shift>click at the bottom to highlight the bunch, and drag across to the new folder.)

3. If you currently are receiving the eList in Digest Mode, request to change over to "Immediate Mode".  To do this, send an email to Suzy at with "change to Immediate Mode" in the subject line, and she will make the change for you in a timely manner.

4. When you’re ready to catch up on the eList discussion, all the posts are readily available in one convenient location, safely separated from the maddening spam.

(Corrections to the instructions are very welcome. Please send them to me off-list at

--Curt, eList tech support


return to the How-to-eList page

return to home page


updated 11/5/17 by LLA from Curt Gowan's webpage.  (Thnx, Curt!)