Maximum Number of Filters That Forward Mail in Gmail

It always takes me by surprise a little when I set up a new filter in Gmail (or Google Apps) and find that it’s not working as expected. A quick look at my filters, and it’s not there.

Turns out there’s a maximum number of filters that forward mail in Gmail, of 20. This regularly catches me out because the warning message that the filter was not created is not so dissimilar from the success message when a filter is created.

If you need to forward a lot of emails to other addresses, the best way of getting around this that I’ve found is to combine the filters by forwarding address.

Gmail allows you to enter multiple search terms per search box. For example if you want to forward messages from Jim and Bob to Ron, you would normally set up two filters, one to search for messages from Jim and another to search for messages from Bob, and forward them both to Ron.

However, by searching for multiple terms, you can set up one filter to search for messages from Jim OR Bob and forward them to Ron. This means you only need 1 filter instead of 2.

Further to that, Gmail will match multiple terms in different search boxes. For example, if you want to forward only messages that Jim has sent with ‘Holiday’ in the subject line and only messages that Bob has sent with ‘Golf’ in the subject line you can filter messages from Jim OR Bob with subject Holiday or Golf.

This means that Gmail will match messages from Jim with subject Holiday or Golf and from Bob with subject Holiday or Golf.

The syntax for doing so is this:

Sender: (Jim OR Bob)
Subject: (“Holiday” OR “Golf”)

Another example:

Sender: ( OR
Subject: (“email from” OR “email from”)

You must wrap your terms in brackets, the ‘OR’ must be in capital letters, and individual strings of text in the subject must be in quotation marks. When you view the filter after you’ve saved it, it will show a double set of brackets.

Tip: On most filters, I usually tick the ‘Never send to spam’ checkbox just in case any matching emails might be picked up by the spam filter.


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