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Last week Adrianne illustrated the utility of the Priority Inbox for streamlining your email. In this Tip of the Week I illustrate an alternative way to organize your inbox with Google’s Inbox Tabs. Inbox Tabs automatically filter your incoming mail into separate tabs based on the type of sender.

I made the switch last month and it took me about a week to decide whether or not I liked Inbox Tabs better than Priority Inbox. Any change to your inbox takes some adjustment and different people like different configurations. Try it out if you like and see what works best for you.

Configure Your Inbox

[from Google Help]

If you’re using a custom inbox style like Priority Inbox, you won’t see tabs until you turn them on. Here’s how:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear icon Gear icon in the upper right, then select Configure inbox.
  3. Check the boxes of the tabs you want to see.
  4. Click Save.

If you don’t want to use this type of inbox, follow these directions to change your inbox style.

Read more documentation on how to configure your Inbox Tabs.

What each tab does

Primary

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.01.30 PM

Social

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.23.12 PM

Promotions

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.23.26 PM

Updates

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.01.43 PM

Forums

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 5.01.49 PM

Notes and Caveats:

  • If you don’t like where it’s putting your messages, you can drag misfiled messages you to the proper tab and Gmail will “learn” your preference.
  • You may use any combination of tabs in addition to the Primary tab. For example, just Primary and Forums.
  • You can add and remove tabs at any time without losing the mail that is filed there.
  • Unfortunately you cannot rename or redefine the tabs from their preset names and functions.