How to go back to the old Gmail inbox display

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Not too long ago, Gmail made a change in the way they display your email.  Instead of just having all of your new mail come into the Inbox, they divided the Inbox into a few categories: Priority, Social, Promotions, Updates.

gmail categories

At first use, I didn’t like it.  But my dislike was not really based on any practical reason; it was just because I was used to seeing it the old way – with everything dumped into the Inbox.

But after a short period of use, I have come to prefer the new arrangement.  Here’s why:

1. Prioritizing makes reading my email more efficient.
Google is pretty smart about knowing which emails should go into the “Primary” folder and be displayed first.  Those are the emails that are most likely to need a response – a new prospective client asking about my services, or my mom setting up a family gathering.  These emails are the ones I should see first.

2. I waste less time with email on my phone.  
With the old system, my phone would notify me whenever any new email came in.  So I would open my phone, check Gmail, and see something like “Bill just commented on your Facebook post” or “Here’s today’s Daily Deal”.  Those emails are not spam, but I don’t need to see them while I am out.  Now, the only email notifications I get on my phone are about emails I consider more “important”.

3. Prioritizing makes deleting emails more efficient.  
I know when I click to view the emails in my “Social” folder, I am usually just going to delete all of them.  So I can just check the one box at the top, which selects all of the emails being displayed, and delete them all at one time.

But if you just don’t like the new Gmail layout and want to go back to the way it was before, you can do that.

How to change back to the “old” Gmail inbox:

1. Log in to your Gmail account at

2. Click on the “Settings” button in the top right corner, and in the drop down menu that appears, click on “Configure inbox”.

configure gmail inbox

3. Now you will see a new window with your inbox category options.  If you only want one single inbox and no separate categories, just uncheck all the boxes and click Save.

configure gmail inbox

If you’re curious about what emails Gmail would decide to put in those other categories (if you used them), you can just move your mouse over a category name (without clicking).  On the right side of the window you will see some examples (using some of your actual emails) of what would be placed in that category.

If you do decide to use the new category display, you’re not stuck with Gmail’s decisions about which emails should go in which category.  You can designate certain emails to always show up in the Primary inbox.

To do this, do a right-click on an email, move your mouse down to “Move to tab”, then click on “Primary” (or whatever category you want to designate).

gmail inbox

Of course, I would recommend that you designate my emails to always go into the Primary tab so you don’t miss anything important.  🙂

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Gary Shelton
September 2nd, 2013

How do u fix it so just get iphone notivations on PRIORITY only
and I like the tip on new gmail THANKS

Scott Johnson
September 2nd, 2013

Gary, I think that is a setting within the Gmail app on your phone. That’s how it is on the Android anyway (and I don’t use an iPhone so cannot advise on that personally).