Priority Inbox

Priority Inbox attempts to automatically identify your important incoming messages and separates them out from everything else. By default, Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else.”

Desktop

Change your inbox style

Priority Inbox is one of several inbox styles and you can easily switch styles to find the one that works best.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select the Inbox tab.
  5. In the “Inbox type” section, select Priority Inbox from the drop-down menu.
  6. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

You can also quickly change your inbox style by hovering over Inbox on the left side of your Gmail and clicking the Gmail Inbox down arrow icon down arrow.

Work with Priority Inbox

Important messages

Gmail uses a variety of signals to prioritize your incoming messages, including who you’ve emailed and chatted with most and which keywords appear frequently in the messages you opened recently.

If Priority Inbox mistakes an email as important or doesn’t flag one that’s important to you, you can teach it to make better selections.

  • To mark a message as important, click the empty importance marker to the left of the sender’s name.
    Not important marker
     
  • To mark a message as not important, click the yellow importance marker to the left of the sender’s name.
    Important marker screenshot
     

When you mark a message as not important, it will move out of the Important section. Over time Priority Inbox will learn what’s important to you and incorporate the feedback you give via these buttons. Learn more about how importance ranking works.

Inbox sections

Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else.” However, you can choose and customize your own sections. Follow the instructions below to change your settings:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select the Inbox tab.
  5. Change desired settings.
  6. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

You can even create your own sections for specific labels (choose More options... when customizing the inbox sections).

Android 4.0+

Read your most important emails first using Priority Inbox. When you choose this inbox type, Gmail tries to figure out which messages are important to you and then separates them out from everything else in your inbox.

If Gmail guesses wrong, you can mark the email yourself to help teach Gmail what’s important to you.

Set Priority Inbox as your default inbox

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. Touch the Gmail icon Gmail icon.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Choose an account.
  5. Touch Inbox type.
  6. Choose Priority Inbox.

View your messages

When you open the Gmail app, you'll see your Priority Inbox, which is a list of messages that you or Gmail have labeled important.

To see all the messages in your inbox, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  2. Touch the Gmail icon Gmail icon.
  3. Choose Inbox.

Switch back by selecting Priority Inbox from the list instead.

Mark messages as important

If Gmail makes a mistake, you can mark an email as important or unimportant. The more messages you mark, the better Gmail gets at guessing.

  1. Open the message in the Gmail app.
  2. Touch Menu (the three dots at the top or your device’s menu button on the bottom).
  3. Choose Mark important or Mark not important.

See which emails are important

Important messages are marked with a yellow icon next to the sender’s name:

Important messages sent directly to you.
Important messages that you were Cc’d on.
Important messages that you received as part of a group.

How Gmail figures out what’s important

To figure out what’s important to you, Gmail uses a variety of clues. For example, who you’ve emailed and chatted with most and which keywords appear often in the messages you opened recently.

Learn more about how Gmail marks emails as important.

Android 2.2-2.3

If you receive a great deal of email, Priority Inbox can help you get through it faster, by separating what’s important from what’s not so important.

If you have enabled Gmail on your computer to show Priority Inbox, you can enable it on your device as well. Learn more about Priority Inbox on your computer.


View Priority Inbox

Priority Inbox is a list of conversations that Gmail or you have labeled important.You can view your Priority Inbox through any of the following ways:

  • Touch the label at the top of any conversation list and then touch Priority Inbox.
  • Touch Priority Inbox in the Labels screen.
  • Press Menu and touch the Go to Inbox menu item, available on many Gmail screens, if Priority Inbox is your default inbox.

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Important message icons

Important messages are marked with a yellow icon:

  • sent to youindicates important messages sent directly to you.
  • sent to youindicates important messages that you were Cc’d on.
  • sent to youindicates important messages that you received as part of a group.

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Set Priority Inbox as your default inbox

You can set Priority Inbox as the conversation list to open when you have new mail, rather than Inbox. This setting is only available in Gmail on your phone if you have configured Gmail on the web to show Priority Inbox.

  1. Open your Inbox, press Menu, and touch More > Settings.
  2. Select your account.
  3. Check Priority Inbox

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Enable notifications for Priority Inbox

Once you've enabled Priority Inbox on your device, you can set specific notification preferences for all Priority Inbox messages.

  1. Open your Inbox, press Menu, and touch More > Settings > [Select account].
  2. Select your account.
  3. Scroll down to Notification Settings and touch Labels to notify.
  4. Select Priority Inbox.

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Mark a conversation as important

  1. In your Inbox or other conversation list, check one or more conversations that are not marked important.
  2. Press Menu and touch Mark Important.
  3. The messages are added to your Priority Inbox and Gmail learns about what conversations you consider important.

To mark a conversation as not important, simply follow the same steps for conversations that are marked as important.

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iOS

Set Priority Inbox as your default inbox

  1. To use Priority Inbox on your iOS device, first enable Priority Inbox on the desktop version of Gmail.
  2. In the Gmail app, touch Menu iOS Menu icon.
  3. Select one of your Priority Inbox sections: Important and unread, Starred, or Everything.

Your Priority Inbox settings are the same on desktop and mobile. The only exception is that you can’t change the default number of conversations shown in Priority Inbox on your mobile device.

Limited features on mobile

Priority Inbox on the Gmail app for iOS devices currently doesn’t support all desktop features. The list below highlights the main differences:

  • The ability to mark conversations as "Important" or "Not important" is not available.
  • Priority Inbox sections can’t be viewed in a single screen.
  • Conversations that can be filtered into more than one Priority Inbox will appear in multiple sections.

Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.

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