How to make sure you do not miss emails in the new Gmail interface

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 9, 2013
Email, Gmail

gmail mark primary

The new Gmail interface that divides emails into different groups such as primary, promotions, social or forums has been up for some time now.

If you are using Gmail on the web, you have probably grown accustomed to the new look of it,  or removed all but the primary group again if you did not like the idea of having to click on multiple tabs to check all of your newly arrived emails.

I do not like the approach that much, for various reasons. First, Gmail has a powerful filtering system that can be used to create the same effect. While it may take a bit longer to configure, it will work as well in the end.

Second, it means that you have to click multiple times just to check all new emails that you have received.

Third, it may mean that users overlook emails because they are not added to the primary group but another one. The primary group is the one that gets loaded when you start Gmail.

Move emails to Primary

If you want to make sure that you do not miss out on specific emails, you can move them to the primary group to do so. There are other means to do so as well, for instance by making emails important based on the people in the conversation, but one of the most effective options is to mark an email address as primary if you are using the new interface.

To do so, simply drag and drop the email address to the primary group button at the top. You will receive the following notification at the top:

The conversation has been moved to "Primary". Undo

Do this for future message from [email address]?. Yes

If you do not do anything, only that conversation will from that moment on appear in the primary group. If you click on yes, all messages from the email address will appear in the primary group instead.

You can move emails to other categories, for a reverse effect. If you notice that emails that you do not really care about land in the primary group, move them to another group to have them out of sight when you load the Gmail web interface.

It is a small change but one that counts. It ensures that emails that you care about land in Primary, and emails that you do not really care about land in another group that you may not open that often or at all.


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  1. JS said on January 10, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    I missed an email about a job interview because Google filed it somewhere, and apparently now I see I have not been getting all of my emails because Google puts it somewhere random and not in my inbox. Finally I realized what was happening, after I missed very important emails. Google screwed me with this feature. I totally missed important emails. I am livid right now.

  2. chesscanoe said on December 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I think of email as primarily chronological in importance to me. While I do make use of several colored tabs, as well as the “important” indicator, I use “All Mail” as my primary way to read almost 3000 emails/month. I miss too many emails on a timely basis if I rely on the “Inbox”.

  3. Sojiro said on December 10, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I immediately removed the tab feature the moment I got it on my Gmail as well. It’s totally freaking useless for me.

    When looking at my Google monthly report I receive around 500 emails a month. Almost none of them are spam. I am able to look at my email on a daily bases and most of the email comes from a forum from a game I follow hence the higher number of mails.

    I maybe got 1 to 5 spam emails max per month. I really dislike the tab feature because it makes me miss emails. I don’t want to click a second time to see my email.

    When I open Gmail I want to see everything. I guess it could be useful for those who get a ton of email end/or have a ton of spam.

    Nonetheless, great tips!

    1. Gregg DesElms said on December 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      I could not more strongly agree with Sojiro; and that’s exactly what I did to my GMAIL account, also: Just turned-off all the tabs and silliness. An inbox is an inbox; and everything arriving belongs in it.

      Gregg L. DesElms
      Napa, California USA
      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

      Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
      Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

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