Gmail Forwarding: Easy Steps to Simplify Your Email Management

Setting up email forwarding in Gmail is an easy process. I can easily enable the feature through my Gmail settings and specify the email address to which incoming mail should be routed. Additionally, Gmail allows me to create filters that control which emails should be forwarded, giving me greater control over my email management.

If you recall from an earlier article, I wanted to clean up my inbox by reading email newsletters in Omnivore. The app is much better suited for this type of content. The problem I encountered was very few newsletters had an option for me to change my email address. They wanted me to unsubscribe from Gmail and then use my dedicated Omnivore email address. Doable, but not efficient. However, I can bypass this problem by using Gmail forwarding rules and filters.

Gmail Forwarding Basics

Gmail does have native forwarding for individual emails. There is a Forward menu option that appears in the More menu. But, I wanted to do this in bulk and automatically. This requires three main items:

  1. Set up a forwarding email address in Gmail
  2. Identify the future emails you want to be sent to that forwarding address
  3. Apply a forwarding rule to that subset.

There are several key items to know about this process. To start, you need to prove you own the forwarding email address. And don’t expect Google to go back in time and grab existing emails. 

Set Up Your Forwarding Email Address in Gmail

Please remember that many of the steps below are for security reasons. I happen to use 2FA with my Gmail account. Google doesn’t want your email forwarded without confirmation to an address you don’t own.

  1.  Click the Gear icon in the top right. It’s on the same line as your avatar.
  2.  Click the See all settings button on the right side panel.
  3.  On the Settings page, click Forwarding and POP/IMAP link at the top.
  4.  In the Forwarding: section click the Add a forwarding address button.
Gmail Forwarding and POP/IMAP panel with Add forwarding address.
  1. Add the forwarding email address that you own.
  2. Click Next.
  3. Google will then show a dialog where you indicate you want to forward email from your Gmail account. In my case, I had to verify a code from my smartphone.
Gmail request you provide code for verification.
  1. On the pop-up dialog, verify your address is correct and press the Proceed button.
  2. A dialog shows that a confirmation link has been sent to that address. Click OK.

Verifying the Forwarding Address

Once I’ve added the forwarding address, the next step is to verify it. Without verification, Google will not forward your email.

  1. Check your other email account and click the confirmation link in the Google email.
  2. Gmail will redirect you to a confirmation page that shows both addresses. Click Confirm.
Gmail dialog showing both email addresses.

If you refresh your Forwarding and POP/IMAP panel, you should see the address you added from Step 5 above.

Important: If I don’t confirm the forwarding address, Gmail won’t forward my emails.

Creating Email Filters for Forwarding

When I want to forward specific emails in Gmail automatically, I start by setting up an email filter. In the example below, I’ll filter the Weekly Blinkist recommended books email to forward it to Omnivore.

  1. Open an email you wish to forward.
  2. From the More menu, select Filter messages like this.
Filter messages like this option in Gmail.
  1. A panel will appear with various criteria such as the From: address. You can additional criteria if you wish.
  2. Click Create filter at the bottom.
  3. From the dialog, check the box Forward it to:
Checkbox for Gmail forwarding and address.
  1. On the same line, click the control for Choose an address…
  2. Select the forwarding address you created earlier.
  3. Click Create filter.

Trust and Reverify

Once we hit Create filter, we get another verification dialog. Click Continue. Yes, we have to go through the verification process again, but this is most likely because of my 2FA setting. Once concluded, you will briefly see a message in the lower left that says your filter was created. 

At this stage, I prefer to go back to Google Settings and check to see if the filter and Gmail forward rule shows.

  1. Click the Gear icon in the top right.
  2. Click See all settings.
  3. Click Filters and Blocked Addresses.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of this page to view your filter. 

You should see a filter with your match criteria and what to do. In addition, at the top of your page, you should see a banner indicating that you are forwarding some of your email.

Gmail filter rule with match criteria and address.

Editing and Deleting Forwarding Filters

Sometimes, I need to adjust my forwarding filters to reflect changes in my email management needs. Here’s how I edit or delete forwarding filters:

  1. Again, I access the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab under Gmail settings.
  2. I locate the filter I wish to change and click edit next to it to modify its criteria or actions.
  • To update the forwarding address for a filter, I edit the filter and select a different address from the Forward it to dropdown.
  • If I want to stop all forwarding, I go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab and select Disable forwarding.

I always double-check my filter after any changes to ensure it’s functioning as expected. Keeping my inbox organized by managing forwarding rules helps me streamline my email workflow.

Key Takeaways

  • Gmail’s forwarding feature allows emails to be automatically sent to another email address
  • You can get specific as to which emails to forward using filters
  • You must own the forwarding email address
  • Gmail will not forward matching emails from the past
  • You can edit or delete the forwarding rules

Lastly, if you’re planning to set Gmail forwarding rules for all your newsletters, I would start with the one that sends with the greatest frequency. Once you know that one works, it’s easy to go back and set the rest. The longest process is setting up the initial forward address.