Configure inbox Categories and tabs Gmail

Gmail Configure Inbox tabs and Categories

Gmail inbox is powerful in terms of managing your mails. Categories the inbox and manage into tabs separating different categories. Such as Primary, social, promotions, updates, and forums. Using these tabs, you will learn more about the Gmail inbox layout options. Easily add or remove any category based on your work. The default tab is the primary when open Gmail inbox, after you finish reading mails from the primary, then move to the social tab.

Similarly, you can also use the search option to find mails from each category. There is Reservation and Purchase category too but it is not showing as a separate category. However, you can use Reservation and Purchase in search option to find related emails.

What are tabs in Gmail

There are tabs in Gmail to categories the Gmail inbox. These tabs are Primary, Social, Promotion, Updates and Forums. Similarly, there are also Settings tabs in Gmail. These Settings tabs including General Settings, inbox, Account and others. To specify tabs in Gmail it is known as inbox category tabs and Settings tabs.

How to Configure inbox and category tabs in Gmail

To configure the inbox and Gmail layout adding or removing tabs, follow the headline steps.

Click gear icon > Configure inbox

Open Gmail on the web and click the Gear icon to expand the menu. Click the Configure inbox to open Select tabs to enable window.

Configure inbox Gmail gear menu
Configure inbox Gmail gear menu

Select tabs to enable

There are multiple categories in Gmail to enable. You can checkbox to enable and uncheck the box to disable any category. These categories are Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums and Starred messages. The starred messages are those mails tag with a star icon and star mails are included in the Primary category.

Select tab to enable
Select tab to enable

You can easily move messages between the tabs. To do so, you can hold the message from one tab and drag to another.

Categories and tabs in Gmail

Gmail filtering all incoming messages into different categories. Suppose you have one to one conversation attention directly to you, which look like the important message and ends in the Primary tab. Similarly, other tabs and categories and managing this way. Email notification from the social network site is going to Social tabs.


The Primary category tab includes conversation that is person to person. These messages are not appearing in other tabs. Most of the email in the Primary tab is look like need your utmost attention. Gmail is learning from user actions. You need to make sure you enable to predict from your past action. Predict settings are available in Settings>Inbox tab.

Gmail inbox primary tab
Gmail inbox primary tab

Examples are of the primary tab given to identify real-time current emails. The examples are demonstrating, what exact messages are ending up into the primary tab.

Moving other messages from other tabs will prompt your action if you would like to view the campaign in the primary tab. All the future mails from a select campaign such as social, promotion and others will display in the primary tab.


The Social tab in Gmail including messages from Social networks. All media sharing sites, social websites and online dating services. Social tabs are multiple messages from different platforms. To organize it and make each message identical, you can set the label filter option. After that, each message in the Social tab will show the filter label to identify easily.

Gmail inbox Social tab
Gmail inbox Social tab


The promotion tab in Gmail gets more valuable messages. The promotions messages and specially annotating with deals, offers and other marketings emails. Some of the promotion including expiry dates and PROMO codes to highlight you with a discount offer. The Promo messages are sometimes including Logo URL, deal badge, discount code, and deal expiration date. Easily get hands on the most valuable offer right from your inbox.

Gmail inbox promotion tab
Gmail inbox promotion tab

Gmail is specifically offering developers their utmost attention to configure and deliver with best practice. The rich experience of gaining more developer in the Promotion tab.


The tab includes updates on the personal messages that get automatically from the system. The system generated a message including confirmation, receipts, bills and other statements. Generally, including personal items that keep you update and current status. And sometimes change of status and you can easily track messages with an update from this tab.

Gmail inbox updates tab
Gmail inbox updates tab

In case you don’t like the update tab to appear in Gmail inbox categories, you can easily uncheck the updates from Configure Inbox. After that, the Updates tab will disappear from current tabs.


The forums tab in Gmail includes all the messages and discussions from boards. The online groups and discussion are feed with updates and ending in Forums. Sometimes the subscriptions of mailing lists to receive daily, weekly and digests.

Gmail inbox forums tab
Gmail inbox forums tab

Most members of online forums love to include Forum tabs in Gmail inbox. Actively receiving from different forums is best to include labels and filters. The filter is then auto applying from a similar board discussion and mailing list.

Starred Messages (Include starred in Primary tab)

Starred Messages is not a tab itself in Gmail inbox, but the option will actually include the starred messages in the Primary tab. A star tag on any message will then show up in the Primary tab as it is most important to you. And the Primary tab messages are all that need first priority and most important to a user.

Starred messages include in Gmail primary tab
Starred messages include in Gmail primary tab

If you see any message stay in the Primary tab, then check if you mark a star on it. In case you are missing any message from Gmail and not in any tab, then check-in All Mail. Because any message you mark as Archive is actually removing inbox label from the message. The tab and including those messages with inbox label.

Enable to predict from past action to categories important messages

Go to Gmail Gear menu and click on the Settings. Open inbox tab from the Settings page and select the option “Use my past actions to predict which message is important to me”.

Past action to predict important Messages Gmail
Past action to predict important Messages Gmail

After you enable, Gmail is learning from your action. And keep tracking the message when you drag from one tab to another. So the future messages can set to stay in a similar tab you like.

If you select “Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are Important” then it will erase the previous action history. And the accuracy of categorizing messages in the tab is to reduce. The important messages predictions can’t be always accurate since it is then not recording your previous actions. It is strongly recommending to keep turn on to predict from your past action.

Count Message and Conversation in tab

Gmail provides a separate counter on the top of each category/tab to count message and conversation. To count all the messages in a tab, you need to turn off the conversation view from Gmail settings first. After that, the count view showing all the messages. If the conversation view is turned on, then the count view shows the total conversation in a tab.

Tab Messages and Conversation count Gmail
Tab Messages and Conversation count Gmail

Refer to the above screenshot showing a comparison between conversation view on and off. The Primary tab showing different count view when the conversation is turned on and then off. The counter value is changing because the conversation holds more email.

Configure inbox Gmail FAQ and troubleshoots

Some of the frequently asked question and other troubleshoots are listing below.

How to switch back to old inbox layout

To switch back to the old inbox, deselect all categories from the Configure inbox and Save settings. After that, you roll out from category and tabs layout. And you now switch back to old inbox layout.

My tabs and categories are missing from Gmail

If you select any priority inbox from Gmail settings, then it is overriding the Configure inbox settings. If you want to bring back category tabs on the inbox layout, go back to configure inbox. Select the categories and save changes to bring missing tabs.

My messages are staying in the wrong tab

If you receive any message in the wrong tab, you can click on the email to hold and then drag it to another tab. The message will move from the wrong to the correct tab. Gmail will learn from your past action to understand which message is important to you.

Why some messages are adding in the Primary tab

There are tricky ways to Email marketing used to manipulate and Gmail way of identification. Thus it is ending in the Primary tab instead of a promotion. You can always indicate and drag it to the promotion tab.

How do I get my emails to the primary tab

Any repetitive message showing in another tab instead of primary, then you can simply select to drag it the Primary tab. All the future messages from the similar sender will then add to the Primary tab. However, you need to make sure you select to learn and predict from your past action. The similar settings to enable from Settings>inbox.

Why I can’t find the email in Gmail Category

Any Email message you Archive will not show in the any of the Gmail categories. You can find all Archive messages in All Mail instead of any category. To move any message from Archive, you need to select and drag it to the inbox. After that, it will show a similar message in Gmail Category.

Why I can’t turn on Gmail inbox categories

If your inbox holding more than 250,000 contents, then you reach the maximum limit. After that, you need to archive old messages to turn on the Gmail inbox categories option.

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Categorized as Gmail, HowTo

By Saeed

Saeed is a top contributor to different forums and blogs. He posts more than 15k around different forums. Furthermore, He is also a YouTube Creator and creating HowTo videos. He always busy in creating unique contents.

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