Smart Labels

Shortwave labels aren't like other labels — they're smarter.

In this guide, learn how to apply a label once and train its behavior on senders going forward. Once a label has been applied, gain access to a powerful suite of customization features, including Delivery Schedules, bundling, push notifications, and more. All label settings can be configured via Settings > Labels in Shortwave.

What are labels?

Labels are like tags that get applied to existing or incoming threads. They make it easy to track related emails, whether you're working on a project or storing long-term information. Far more flexible than folders, a thread can have as many or as few labels as you want.

Shortwave comes with a set of built-in labels for common use cases that are auto-applied to threads without you having to do anything:

  • Calendar – Invites, responses, and other notifications regarding calendar events
  • Finance – Bills, bank statements, and credit card statements
  • Forums – Online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists
  • Newsletters – Posts from authors or companies you subscribe to
  • Promotions – Deals, offers, and other marketing emails
  • Purchases – Purchase confirmations, receipts, and shipping emails
  • Social – Social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, and other social websites
  • Travel – Flight, hotel, rental car, and other trip-related notifications
  • Updates – Auto-generated confirmations and updates from companies and apps

In addition to the built-in labels, you can create custom labels for any use case. Custom labels are kept in sync between Shortwave and Gmail. Your existing Gmail labels are imported into Shortwave when you first sign up and any new labels created in either app are kept in sync.

You can apply labels to any thread or bundle of threads by opening the label picker and creating a new label or selecting from existing labels. Once you've applied a label, you'll see a new label chip at the top of a thread. Simply remove a label chip if you no longer want a label to apply.

You're probably familiar with labels from other email clients and SaaS tools — labels are a common means for identifying, storing, and finding information within all of your favorite organizational tools. Shortwave labels can be used for all the same purposes...and a whole lot more.

What makes Shortwave labels unique?

Labels in Shortwave are super-powered in two ways:

First, Shortwave labels are the basis for enabling all of Shortwave's most powerful features, including:

  • Bundling: Bundle a label to cut through your inbox faster with bulk actions
  • Delivery Schedules: Configure schedules by label or sender to decide when emails get delivered to your inbox so you can stay focused
  • Push notifications: Get notified immediately when the most important emails hit your inbox
  • Skip inbox: Set a delivery schedule to "Never" to skip the noise and keep the inbox permanently cleaner

Second, Shortwave labels are smart. You can train labels on senders so that they automatically apply — set them once and let Shortwave handle the rest.

What does this look like in practice?

If you get an email from, you might want this to always get labeled as Travel. Go to the label picker, ensure the auto-apply checkbox is enabled, and click Apply. Now, every time you get an email from it will automatically be labeled with Travel.

In fact, any time you add or remove a label in Shortwave, you will be given the option to create an auto-apply rule. If you have a Travel bundle in your inbox, drag an email from on top. Click "Always apply" in the toast in the bottom right corner — you've just made an auto-apply rule.

You can view and manage the list of auto-applied senders for a label by navigating to a label's settings page. This can be done by hovering over a label chip, searching for the label's name, or viewing your full list of labels from the Labels page.

Making the most of labels

Labels are the key to cutting through inbox clutter faster than ever before.

Assume you have the following emails in your inbox:

  • 10 newsletters from Substack
  • 3 emails regarding your team's feature launch
  • 15 receipts from Stripe
  • 7 pull request notifications from GitHub

Most of these emails aren't actionable or time sensitive. They're taking focus away from the emails that matter most — requests from your boss, messages from coworkers, emails from clients.

Let labels work their magic:

Apply the Newsletter label to the Substack emails. Set a delivery time to once a week when you know you'll have more time to read. If your schedule frees up early, head over to the Snoozed page or search for the label name to peruse your newsletters early. Otherwise, forget they exist.

Add a custom label to the feature launch messages: push notifications on, bundling on, and send to inbox on. In fact, you might even want to favorite this one for easy access in your sidebar.

Add the Stripe emails to Purchases and set their delivery schedule to "Never" to have them skip your inbox.

Finally, label your GitHub emails as Updates and schedule them to hit your inbox once a day: you want to be in the loop on these, but not when you're doing heads-down work throughout the day.

Now you can relax knowing that you've made your inbox permanently leaner. And you're just getting started.

In Shortwave, we've taken the labels that everyone knows and loves and we've given them superpowers. Labels are your sharpest tool for becoming not just a Shortwave power user, but a ruler of your own inbox.

Inbox zero? You've got that in the bag.


  1. How do I apply a label?

    You can apply a label on web or mobile by opening a thread or bundle and selecting "Label" from the dropdown. This opens the label picker, allowing you to apply existing labels or create a new one.

    If you're using Shortwave on web, you can also drag and drop a thread onto a label bundle— this applies the label(s) from the target bundle to the dropped thread(s). Or try the b keyboard shortcut.

  2. How do I remove a label?

    You can remove a label on web or mobile by opening the label picker and de-selecting labels to remove them. On web, this can also be done by using the b keyboard shortcut.

    If you're using Shortwave on web, you can also remove labels via the label chip row at the top of a labeled thread. Click 'x' on a chip to remove that label from the thread.

  3. How do I add an auto-apply rule?

    You can add an auto-apply rule on web by adding new labels to a thread via the label picker. You will see a checkbox which reads "Apply changes to future messages." This checkbox is default on—by leaving it enabled and clicking "Apply," you will create an auto-apply rule.

    Alternatively, on web you can drag and drop onto a label bundle. After dropping the threads, you will see a toast appear. Click "Always apply" on the toast to create an auto-apply rule.

    On mobile, you can add an auto-apply rule via the label picker. After selecting new labels, click the checkmark. Click "Always apply" on the following dialog to create an auto-apply rule.

  4. How do I add an auto-remove rule?

    You can add an auto-remove rule on web by deselecting labels via the label picker. Leave the auto-apply checkbox enabled to create an auto-remove rule.

    Alternatively, on web you can remove a label chip. After clicking 'x' on a label chip, you will see a toast appear. Click "Always unapply" on the toast to create an auto-apply rule.

    On mobile, you can create an auto-remove rule via the label picker. After unselecting labels in the label picker, click the checkmark. Click "Always apply" on the following dialog to create an auto-apply rule.

  5. How do I manage auto-apply rules for a label?

    In order to view or remove auto-apply rules for a label, navigate to the label's settings page and click the blue text indicating how many senders auto-apply. If you do not have any blue text on a label, that means no senders auto-apply.

  6. How do I manage settings for a label?

    You can manage settings for a label in one of three ways:

    1. Navigate to Settings > Labels. Click the ⚙️ label settings gear that appears to the right of the label.
    2. Search for a specific label and click the settings gear icon in the top right corner.
    3. Hover over a label chip at the top of a thread. Click the settings gear icon.

    Once the settings modal is visible for a label, you can toggle settings to customize a label's behavior. Click "Save" when you're satisfied with the settings.

  7. How do I view all of my labels?

    Navigate to Settings > Labels to view a full list of your labels. For quicker access, you can also add labels to your sidebar. To do this:

    1. Click the ⚙️ label settings gear that appears to the right of the label via Settings > Labels
    2. Click the ⭐️ favorite icon in the top left of the label settings menu