Google Adds Category Tabs to Gmail Inboxes

Now email will be separated into separate tabs to help users better organize all their email.

Google's Gmail service is now rolling out a new appearance for users' email accounts by adding tabs that organize incoming mail into individual "compartments." Google hopes that the new tabs will make it easier and quicker for users to find the messages they are seeking.

The tab feature was unveiled May 29 in a post by Itamar Gilad, product manager for Gmail, on the Official Gmail Blog.

"We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more," wrote Gilad. "All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around."
To better organize that clutter, Gmail is getting a brand-new inbox on desktop and mobile browsers that puts users back in control of their email using simple, easy organization, he wrote. "On the desktop, the new inbox groups your mail into categories which appear as different tabs. You simply choose which categories you want and voilà! Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what's new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when."

The tabs include areas for primary email from friends and family; one for messages coming in through social media; a tab for promotional and advertising messages; one for updates for bill payments and other personal account messages; and another for incoming messages from online forums that users visit and follow.

"You can easily customize the new inbox—select the tabs you want from all five to none, drag-and-drop to move messages between tabs, set certain senders to always appear in a particular tab and star messages so that they also appear in the Primary tab," wrote Gilad.

Mobile users will also see the new tab features in the Gmail for Android 4.0+ app and Gmail for iPhone and iPad app, he wrote. Mobile users will see their primary mail when they open the app, and then they can navigate to the other tabs.

The new interface is optional, however. Users who don't like the new inbox can turn off all optional tabs to go back to classic view, or switch to any of their other favorite inbox types, wrote Gilad.