Importance ranking and markers

Gmail uses a variety of signals to prioritize your incoming messages and displays different colored markers to indicate different types of messages. A Yellow importance marker yellow marker means that a message is important. An Empty importance marker empty marker means that the message is not important.

You can search for messages that are important by using the search operator is:important.

How importance ranking works

To predict which of your incoming messages are important, Gmail automatically takes into account a number of signals, including:

  • Who you email: If you email Bob a lot, it’s likely that messages from Bob are important.
  • Which messages you open: Messages you open are likely to be more important than those you skip over.
  • What keywords spark your interest: If you always read messages about soccer, a new message that contains those same soccer words is more likely to be important.
  • Which messages you reply to: If you always reply to messages from your mom, messages she sends are likely to be important.
  • Your recent use of stars, archive and delete: Messages you star are probably more important than messages you archive without opening.

Importance markers

A Yellow importance marker yellow marker means that a message is important. An Empty importance marker empty marker means that the message is not important. If you want to know why a message was classified as important, you can hover your mouse over the importance marker for that message in order to see the main reason why the message was marked important.

Train your importance ranking

If a certain type of message isn’t getting classified correctly, help train Gmail to classify messages more accurately. When you mark a message, it will move to the appropriate section. This will help Gmail learn what you care about most.

  • If a message has been incorrectly marked as important, click the yellow importance marker next to the sender's name in your message list. It will become an empty outline of a marker.
    Important marker screenshot
     
  • If a message has been incorrectly marked as unimportant, click the empty marker so it becomes yellow.
    Not important marker
     

If you correct a large number of messages that Gmail classified incorrectly, the amount of mail that gets categorized as important or unimportant (depending on the mistakes you’re correcting) will decrease within minutes.

If you consistently mark a particular sender or mailing list as important or not important, Gmail will adjust to mark that sender as always or never important within a day or so.

How to hide the markers

If you prefer, you can hide these markers by following these steps:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the gear in the top right.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select the Inbox tab.
  5. In the “Importance markers” section, select the No markers option.
  6. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.