Add or remove inbox categories in Gmail

To help keep your inbox organized, use inbox categories. With inbox categories, Gmail sorts your emails into different categories automatically, such as social media updates or promotions.
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Learn about inbox categories

When you turn on the “Default” inbox type, you can show one or more categories in your inbox:

  • Primary: Emails from people you know and messages that don’t appear in other tabs.
  • Social: Messages from social networks and media-sharing sites.
  • Promotions: Deals, offers, and other promotional emails.
  • Updates: Automated confirmations, notifications, statements, and reminders that may not need immediate attention.
  • Forums: Messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists.
Tip: If you have more than 250,000 emails in your inbox, you can’t turn on inbox categories. To get below the limit, delete or archive your emails

Add or remove inbox categoriesAn animation showing how to add inbox categories for Gmail on desktop

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Settings Settings and then See all settings.
  3. At the top, click Inbox.
  4. In the "Inbox type" section, select Default.
  5. In the "Categories" section, check the box next to a category.
    • To show starred messages in the “Primary” category, check the box next to “Include starred in Primary.”
    • To allow top promotions in the “Promotions” category, check the box next to “Enable bundling of top promo emails in Promotions.”
  6. At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes.

Tip: If you turn on notifications for new mail, you only get notifications about messages in the “Primary” category. Learn how Gmail notifications work.

Turn off inbox categories

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Settings .
  3. Click See all settings.
  4. At the top, click Inbox.
  5. In the “Inbox type” section, uncheck one or more categories.
  6. To hide all inbox categories:

Find emails in a category

Important: Archived emails don’t appear in inbox categories. To find archived emails, go to the “All mail” label in Gmail.

  1. At the top, in the search bar, enter category:.
  2. Enter the category name before your search term:
    • primary
    • social
    • updates
    • forums
    • reservations
    • purchases

For example, category:social party shows you emails in the “Social” category that include "party."

Tip: While you can search for emails that match the “Reservations” or “Purchases” categories, you can’t select these categories in your inbox.

  • Reservations: Flight confirmations, hotel bookings, and restaurant reservations.
  • Purchases: Order, shipping, and delivery confirmations.

Improve how Gmail sorts your emails

To stay in control of where your email goes in an inbox category, you can:

  • Move a message from one category to another:
    1. On your computer, drag and drop an email into a category.
    2. In the notification, to confirm that you want to send all emails from the sender to the category, click Yes.
  • Star an email: When you star an email, it appears in your “Primary” category and remains in any category they were already in. Learn how to star emails.
  • Create a filter: In Gmail, set up a filter that marks email from specific senders as important or that directs it to a category of your choice. Learn how to set up filters.
  • Add senders to Google Contacts: When you add a sender to your contact list, it tells Gmail you’re getting email from someone you know. Learn how to add contacts.
  • Reply to the email: When you interact with a sender, it tells Gmail that you’re familiar with the sender. Learn how to reply in Gmail.

Check the number of messages in your inbox

In Gmail, replies to a message are grouped into conversations. In your inbox, you can find the number of conversations you have, but not messages.

Follow these steps to see how many messages are in your inbox:

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
    • You can't find your total number of messages from the Gmail app.
  2. In the top right, click Settings Settings.
  3. Click See all settings.
  4. Scroll down to the "Conversation view" section.
  5. Turn off Conversation view.
  6. At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes.
  7. To view the number of messages, go to your inbox.
    • If you have multiple sections or categories, add the numbers from each section together.
  8. When you finish, return to the Settings page.
  9. Turn on Conversation view.

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