Information on how labels migrate to Outlook

Labels, folders and categories

Gmail labels and Outlook folders
Duplicated folders
Gmail labels and Outlook categories

Your Gmail labels will move over to Outlook as both folders and categories.

Gmail labels and Outlook folders

Gmail lets you use labels, which you can colour code if you wish:

These will be appear as folders in Outlook, with the same label structure as in your Gmail:

Emails with a single Gmail label appear in Outlook in a folder with the same name.

However, in Gmail you can assign multiple labels to an email. Look at the second email here with labels ERP and Links:

This email will be migrated into just one of the two Outlook folders - either ERP or Links – but not both.

It will go into whichever label you created first in Gmail.

Duplicated folders

In Gmail, if you have labels on emails in your Inbox or Sent Mail

You'll see these emails in the corresponding Outlook folder:

You may also find them duplicated in sub-folders under Inbox or Sent Mail.

The emails under the Inbox sub-labels may be duplicates. You can delete emails from these folders if they appear in the other folder with the same name in the left column. But be careful:

  • the sub-folders under Sent Mail are not duplicates. Deleting these means you'll no longer have a record of sending these messages.
  • set the view to message view, rather than conversation view (click the drop-down arrow next to Filter at the top, and select "show as messages"). This will stop you accidentally deleting your sent mail within the conversation.

Labels and Categories

Email labels will also be migrated across as categories in Outlook. You can use categories to colour code emails and calendar entries.

Categories can’t be ‘nested’ like labels. If you have nested labels they’ll appear as separate categories, with “/” separating the label and sub-label, as in the above image.

However, emails can have multiple categories. The category is indicated by its colour next to the email:

This lets you see at a glance if you have applied multiple labels to an email.

View all emails within a particular category using the search box in the top left of the screen, using category: keyword - e.g. category:ERP or category:Links.

Outlook desktop

If you're a "power email user" e.g. you use a number of shared mailboxes or use Gmail labels extensively as part of your working practices, you may prefer using Outlook desktop (Outlook 2016) instead of Outlook web.

In Outlook desktop you can configure your view to include categories assigned to emails (View > View Settings > Columns).

You'll also need to use Outlook desktop if you want to amend category names. In the web version you can only add or delete them.


If you can't find an email, it's almost certain to be in an unexpected place rather than missing entirely.

Here are a few things to try:

  • use Gmail, in a "look but don't touch" capacity, as a reference
  • Log in to the web version of Outlook. Use the search function to try and locate your email. Try searching with category: followed by the label name you used in Gmail - e.g. category:project. Remember that emails with multiple labels in Gmail will only end in one folder in Outlook.
  • Outlook desktop only shows the last year's worth of email. To show more: File -> Info -> Account Settings. Then in the email tab, double-click your email address, and adjust the Mail to keep offline slider.

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