Great News: Gmail now has Folders

Gmail just released the Nested Labels Lab Feature, which arranges labels like
as folders without the need for a userscript like Folders4Gmail.

I recommend that you uninstall Folders4Gmail and use the new Nested Labels Lab Feature instead.

It works well and the authors even took good care of the little details: The colors of the expanders change with the Gmail theme and parent folders which contain sub-folders with unread emails are shown as bold. Nice work!

5 tips for a smooth transition from Folders4Gmail

  1. Uninstall Folders4Gmail first
    (or disable the Folders4Gmail option in Better Gmail) Folders4Gmail does not work with the new lab feature.
  2. Pay attention to case-sensitivity
    With Folders4Gmail a label aaa could be the parent label of AAA/bbb. Not pretty but it worked. Now you need to spell the name of the parent label exactly the same, for example AAA and AAA/bbb.
  3. All parent labels must be real labels in Gmail
    With Folders4Gmail, if you had a label Family/Mum but no label Family, a fake Family label would automatically be created. This does not happen with the lab feature. All parent labels must exist as real labels in Gmail or your labels will be displayed strangely.
  4. Rename legacy label separators
    If you started using Folders4Gmail in 2007 and never bothered to rename your legacy separators Family\Mum to Gmail’s format Family/Mum, you have to rename them now.
  5. Old advice still applies
    I recommend that you go to Settings > Labels and select Show All. Hide your labels out of view either in a folder hierarchy or under the ## more link, not both.

After three years of maintaining Folders4Gmail, I’m very happy to see that Gmail finally added nesting to their labels. Definitely I won’t miss doing the half-yearly emergency fixes for Folders4Gmail after some Gmail update.
I think that is one of the reasons why Gmail is the best email service around today: Gmail keeps adding new features and constantly improves the service.

Let me say a big thank you to all the users of Folders4Gmail. In the last three years you guys wrote hundreds of encouraging emails and comments, found bugs in the script and volunteered to test new versions. Your positive feedback made maintaining Folders4Gmail a great experience for me 🙂

43 Responses to Great News: Gmail now has Folders

  1. Just a pity that it doesn’t work in conjuction with the ‘Head read labels’ Lab setting. Folders4Gmail didn’t have a problem with it.

  2. Richard says:

    One other thing: Folders4Gmail could use forward or backslashes in folder names, so you could have Parent/Mum or Parent\Mum and it’d work. Gmail’s nested folders will only accept backslashes, so only Parent/Mum will work.

  3. @Richard
    ah yes.. I know I forgot something in the transition hints. Thanks.

  4. jmerz says:

    Very glad to see that Gmail has finally done this, and thank you so very much for all the work you put in, and especially for all of the super-speedy updates when Gmail changed without warning 🙂 Folders4Gmail has truly made Gmail a pleasure to use these last several years.

  5. manse says:

    I don’t have any idea how to uninstall the script…there does not seem to be anything on that on the site. It’s not an add in, and is installed via the button/link here. Any clues appreciated.

    You’ve been a great help…thanks.

  6. manse says:

    I see…the greasemonkey menu item has a manage option, where you can delete scripts.

  7. beq says:

    Thanks for all the work with Folders4Gmail, we love it.

    We also found that Google’s new Nested Labels labs feature has a shortcoming when it comes to Google Apps accounts with access delegation.

    If you have been delegated access to another account (which you can select by clicking the down-arrow next to your email address in the upper-right corner), the label nesting doesn’t work in the tab/window which has that other account open. Thus we’re still using Folders4Gmail.

    We also noticed that the latest version of Folders4Gmail seems to load up about twice as fast as Google’s Nested Labels, at least in Firefox, and especially noticeable on slower computers and on accounts with hundreds of nested labels. For example on one computer Folders4Gmail seems to initially take 6-7 secs to load one such account, whereas Nested Labels initially took 14-15 secs (these are just rough estimates).

    BTW, I could be wrong but it seems that the latest Folders4Gmail is noticeably faster than older versions?

  8. manse says:

    I’ve found that the google labs nested labels is pretty rough. It worked once ok, with obvious glitches re rendering. Since then all it’s done is to display the full list of labels, expanded, with the + controls doing nothing at all, neither expand or contract. I hope whomever wrote it spends some more time on it…and would suggest that if at all possible it’s not time to retire folders4gmail.

  9. sofya says:

    What manse says applies: my parent label contains exactly one daughter label. The other daughter labels are indented but do not nest. Thus, when I expand the parent label, all I get is the one daughter label that’s nested. The rest just stay put, as they were before expansion.

    It’s strange.

    I *think* I uninstalled folders4gmail – I uninstalled greasemonkey. It’s the only way I could figure out how to do it.

  10. Haim says:


    Thks so much for the last few years for the great work you’ve done.


  11. Tim says:

    I agree that labs nested labels are rough. Not a fan of the nested labels lab.

  12. Surrano says:

    Actually, it has some childhood sickness…
    If there is no parent label, e.g. I have Family/Mum and Family/Dad, but not Family, nesting is shown expanded but cannot be collapsed.
    What’s more frustrating, same happens if the parent label is hidden.

    No big deal, create parent labels, you might say, but I have an account with ~1700 labels, growing weekly 🙂

  13. Mike says:

    So should we consider Folders4Gmail officially dead then since it has now stopped working completely?

  14. Tim says:

    Actually I have judged a bit premature…

    Was having issues with child labels but figured out that each level must be created such as:


    The hierarchy is broken above if “Vacation/Hawaii” or “Vacation” is missing. Do not assume “Vacation/Hawaii/Maui” will create 3 label levels as it did so nicely in Folders4gmail.

    Do not skim tip #3 from above. Thanks.

  15. Paulie says:

    Thank you very much Arend for all your hard work during these years.

  16. Aaron says:

    Thanks for all your hard work on Folders4Gmail. It made my inbox so much more manageable. I just switched over and I’ll miss the extra flexibility of F4G but am glad that you won’t have to constantly fix it when Google messes things up.

  17. D.S. says:

    Thanks for your work, Arend — and also for this secret spidey decoder ring, because I could NOT get Nested Folders to work at all until I read this.

  18. DGS says:

    Thanks Arend for all your work on Folders4Gmail, it’s been a real help!!

  19. JF says:


    Thank you for your great work and vision – it’s a pity Google can’t recognize a superior implementation and negotiate with you to integrate it as is.

    I’ve become addicted to folders4Gmail’s elegance and ease of use and won’t find it easy to go to a slow and clunky implementation (which by most accounts the Labs feature seems to be).

    Speaking of which, if you are actually retiring from maintaining Folders4Gmail, how expert would I have to be to maintain it for my own use? Is this only JS/Greasemonkey knowledge?

    Thanks again!

  20. dmb says:

    Thanks Arend. The folders4gmail script was what convinced me to move all my email over the gmail. It actually made gmail useful for me.


  21. Ookpic says:


    Thanks so much for your all the time you’ve invested in Folders4gmail. I too finally made the switch completely to gmail for all my email accounts specifically because of F4G. I so badly wish you could continue to maintain it until the nested labels works though. It is not even close to F4G for load time if you have a ton of labels as I do.

    For whatever reason you have stopped maintaining, thanks again for the work you did.


  22. Bill says:


    First, thanks for all your hard work. We appreciate it greatly.

    We have depended on Folders4Gmail ever since our migration to Google Apps about a year ago. Some of us have very deep label structures.

    Is there any chance you’ll be updating Folders4Gmail at least one last time? Gmail did an update that broke everything again, and we haven’t been able to switch to (the inferior) Nested Labels yet. 🙁

    Please !?

  23. Mike2k says:

    Thanks a ton for your effort in keeping folders4gmail up to date. It’s been a great resource. And like many stated above, Nested Labels doesn’t come close to F4Gmail 🙁

  24. Skrivener says:

    Thanks for Folders4Gmail! It took me a little while to figure out why it stopped working, but I’m ok with using Gmail’s new feature, since I don’t have too complicated a structure. Hopefully they will continue to improve it and resolve some of the teething troubles. Anyway, great work to this point – I certainly wouldn’t have been so satisfied using Gmail exclusively without it!

  25. K says:

    Thanks for Folders4Gmail and all your work. Thanks a lot. 🙂

  26. Moe Al-Kazzaz says:

    Thanks for Folders4Gmail. You did a great job with it! 🙂

  27. Randy says:

    Thanks for all you efforts. One little thing you might add that messed me up. When I moved from Tbird to gmail for corporate mail the tool I used left trailing ‘/’s on the folder/labels. The gmail nested labels script does not like them very much. It shows the parent folder and leaves space for the folders with the trailing ‘/’ but does not display the folder name.
    Go figure. Thought you might like to add that to you transition list.

  28. Richard in Sydney says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for having written folders4gmail in the first place – it really made gmail a worthwhile email service for me.


  29. Sergey says:

    Thanx for all work you did 🙂

  30. Mike says:

    Sadly, the Gmail nested labels implementation is crap if you have a large number of labels. With Firefox, the script seems to loop endlessly and I have to give up and disable it.

    Given that the folks at Google think you shouldn’t label anything and should just use their search tool instead, it wouldn’t surprise me if their implementation was deliberately bad.

    Arend — PLEASE update F4G one more time. I have almost 600 labels and Gmail’s lab implementation has now left me with no hierarchical way to handle them.

    Thanks for all of your hard work!

  31. Japan Shah says:


    Thanks for the information, but I’m agree with Mike…… lab feature for folders is really crap for large number of labels ! which folders4gmail handled nicely…….


  32. Larry says:

    Hi Arend
    You have done a great job with F4Gm.
    I have switched my hundreds of folders over to labs and once I sorted my case sensitivity out – as you outlined in your 5 tips, everything fell into place.

  33. Emilio Mejia says:

    Just wanted to say thanks a bunch for keeping this feature available to us while Google got their act together. It has been greatly appreciated.

  34. Surrano says:

    I discovered that nested labels are not so sluggish after all… provided that the number of _visible_ (i.e. not hidden) labels is not too much.

    With 1700 hidden labels and a total of 23 shown (if expanded) it’s piece of cake to log in or do anything else.

    What’s the catch, you might ask. First, you have to hide all those tons of labels. But if you click “Hide all” you can wait… possibly forever (I waited some 3 hours for it to finish, but it didn’t) and the labels will not be hidden after all. So here’s how:

    1. Turn off Nested Labels lab. Voila, GMail is more responsive than ever. 🙂

    2. Go to Settings -> Labels, and hide all.

    3. Unhide (Show) those you wish to keep visible. Don’t forget parents as well!

    4. Enable Nested Labels lab. And, surprise, it works with an acceptable speed.

    Note: if you wish to use nested labels GMail just like you use My Machine in Windows (everything’s visible, just click-click-click…) it’s not much of an option for you.

    If, however, you use GMail just like me, i.e.
    – Create tons of labels, in a shallow but wide structure
    – Assign labels to mark conversations (many labels per conversation), especially those lacking the proper search keywords
    – Look up labels by searching for them (i.e. write “l:Family-Mum” — note the dash instead of slash)

    this is one possible good way to go.

  35. belg4mit says:

    Nested labels sucks. Not only is it something that Google can decide to take unsupport at any time (though the same could be said of Folders4Gmail), it craps out if you have many labels. Because Gmail is already so JavaScript heavy, the extra overhead makes initial loading painful and can cause a script timeout error. Surrano’s solution is of no help if you have deep labels, e.g; I have one folder with several dozen underneath, and hiding sub-folders is asinine. Yet as a plugin e.g; in Better Gmail2; it seems to run separately and is therefore *much* faster. Viva FoldersGmail!

  36. teejayhanton says:

    Thank you for providing your extension when Gmail didn’t have the feature. Your work really made my inbox easy to manage!

  37. Mike says:

    Surrano’s solution is stupid. The whole point of folders and nested labels is so that everything is visible.

  38. Greg says:

    Thank you very much for your work to offer us Folder4Gmail. It was a great great feature.

  39. Regarding to rename from backslashes to slashes, no one noticed that it will break many filters.

    GMail filters seems to not understand slashes as labels and are broken this way.

    I am the only one person in the world that noticed this bug?

  40. My Sentry says:

    I also just wanted to say thanks very much for folders4gmail for the last couple of years. It was for me too a deciding factor in moving to gmail and I couldn’t have lived without it! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into it.

  41. dmpg says:

    I will copy and paste the last comment because it represents all that I’ve wanted to say:

    “I also just wanted to say thanks very much for folders4gmail for the last couple of years. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into it.”

  42. bob says:

    nested folders are not in labs anymore, this script is needed again

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