How useful is the new tabbed Gmail inbox?
As you may know already, Google has added a new feature to its Gmail email service that it states will put you back in control of your inbox. The feature will roll out over the coming weeks with many Gmail users reporting that it has been already activated for their account.
You can check that easily with a click on the settings icon in the top right corner on Gmail. If Configure Inbox is displayed there in the context menu, your account has been updated.
A click on the link opens a small overlay screen that you use to configure the feature. You need to move the mouse cursor over items to display information about each tab that you can enable on Gmail.
Anyway, up to five tabs are displayed on top of the list of emails. These tabs act as filters that sort emails based on type using algorithms.
The five tabs that you can activate here are the following:
- Primary - lists person to person communications, as well as starred messages by default.
- Social - messages from social networks, dating services, social media and other social-related sites.
- Promotions - includes deals, offers and most marketing emails.
- Updates - Personal updates including confirmations, receipts. bills and statements.
- Forums - Emails from mailing lists, forums and other discussion-based services.
The sorting works considerable well where social is concerned, but that is to be expected as Google is probably filtering messages by domain here. The remaining tabs all include messages that should have been sorted into different tabs. The updates and forums tab included press releases for instance which does not really fit either of the groups.
While it is possible to move mails around via drag and drop, it is clear that you will have to monitor all tabs regularly because of this and can't just ignore the social tab or any of the other tabs completely as you may miss out on emails.
Turning it off
You can turn off the new tabs easily again.
- Click on the settings icon and select Configure Inbox from the options.
- Uncheck all options there so that only primary remains checked (you cannot uncheck primary).
- Click on save.
When you go back to your inbox, you notice that all tabs have been removed from it again.
Google has created a video that demonstrates the new functionality of the inbox.
The sorting works fine for most emails that you receive but not for all of them. This makes it less usable than it should be, as it forces you to monitor all tabs at all times to catch misfiled emails.
It is also making it difficult to check all new emails as you now may have to click on different tabs to read them all. Gmail indicates new mail on the tab headers which helps somewhat, but you will still have to click up to four times more than previously.Advertisement