Blog Post

Gmail adds another way to sort your email by what’s important

Coming up with the perfect solution for everyone to sort and filter their email isn’t exactly the easiest challenge, as I’ve written before. And a large number of startups have been cropping up — and getting funded and bought out — in their attempts to fix email overload and help people quickly find what’s important. But new features from Gmail that launched on Wednesday serve as a good reminder that even as startups try to fix the problem, some things might be easier if they straight from the source.

The new features will come together as another way to view your inbox, similar to priority inbox or unread first. The new view will allow users to toggle between tabs that show different types of messages: primary (default tab for most emails and meant for friends and family), promotions (Groupon emails, daily deals, etc.), social (email from Facebook, Twitter, online dating sites, gaming platforms, etc.), updates (notifications on things like bills, receipts or statements), and forums (messages from mailing lists and email subscriptions).

Here’s what the tabs will look like:

gmail inbox

Users could already set up folders and filters to send all these emails to the right places, but that can be a confusing, tricky process for a lot of people. Once I enabled the new look, the tabs correctly sorted my emails without any effort from me at all. And no effort is generally something people like. So this could be a nice solution for people who don’t want to deal with new email apps like Mailbox.

Gmail has been working to smartly organize your mail for years now, with answers like labels on the left-hand side and priority inbox, but at first glance this seems like a more intuitive approach.

The new look will be rolling out slowly to users, who can tap the gear icon on the top right of their screen to select “configure inbox” from settings. Once users have enabled the new look, they can choose to add or delete different tabs depending on the type of email they get (so if you don’t get daily deal emails, for instance, you could remove the promotions tab.) The new features will be available on Gmail for Android and iPhone and iPad, as well.

Here’s a video showing how the new inbox will work:

10 Responses to “Gmail adds another way to sort your email by what’s important”

  1. Catherine Druitt

    Please cancel this sorting. You can’t tell which non-primary e-mails are shipping, receipt, or confirmation of orders that I need to see right away.

  2. Sam Stevens

    Cloze, an iOS app, is so much better for prioritizing all inbound messages, updates, and social feeds. This is just polishing another stovepipe, Gmail….

  3. alanralph

    I can see this being useful for me, but will have to wait for GMail for iOS to be updated before I can use it properly. If they can do that, though, it would fix one of my big gripes about trying to use my iPad for handling email – the ability to set up filtering rules, which at the moment is only available in the browser version on PCs and Macs. Get to it, Google!

  4. So in another 5 years we will be back to 1998 to what we had then with procmail and rmail.
    I still have some perl scripts to randomize autonomous responses with partial context understanding.
    Dear Google we have been there already ……

  5. I wish they would spend some time figuring out the complicated task of having an option for users to turn off spam filtering. /sarc