Why I won't be using Google's Inbox

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 24, 2014
Updated • Oct 25, 2014

Inbox is a new email service by Google that is currently being available on an invite-only basis. It is available as an application for Android and iOS, and also as a web service.

You can sign in using your Google account after you have received the invite. While it is not tied to Gmail, it shares data with Gmail which means that reading messages in the app or on the web will mark them as read on Gmail as well and vice versa.

The main idea behind Inbox is that Google does the heavy lifting for the user. It takes the categories concept that the company added a while ago to Gmail to new levels. Instead of displaying these categories as tabs, it is displaying them as bundles in the main interface instead.

Apart from the categories that are already used on Gmail, new ones have been added including finance, purchases and travels.


What is interesting here is that it is possible to create custom bundles that Google may also display in the inbox. Adding new bundles is a simple process and works much like adding labels in Gmail.

Custom bundles have many similarities to filters. You select what you want bundled, different email addresses or subjects for instance, and whether you want the bundle to be displayed in the inbox and if you want to be notified about new mail by the app.

All emails in a bundle can be marked as done with a single swipe on mobile or with a click on the mark done icon in the web interface.

Another option that Google has added to Inbox is the ability to add reminders to the inbox. Reminders are displayed at the top of the inbox so that they are in view all the time.

It appears that reminders do more than just sit there at the top, as Google seems to actively crawl matching emails. If you set a reminder for an UPS package for instance,  Inbox may pick up UPS emails with tracking numbers automatically for you.


  1. Inbox works only in Google Chrome at the time of writing and not in other browsers. If you don't use Chrome and don't want to use it, you cannot use Inbox on the desktop right now.
  2. The Inbox app displays only a handful of emails on the screen. If you receive only a few or have Zero-Inbox policy you may not mind that, but if you don't, you need to do a lot of swiping to access all your mails.
  3. The compose interface of the app displays a single line only to compose the email. This is no longer the case.
  4. The web interface hides all labels in a sidebar. You need to click on the Hamburger Menu icon to display it as there is no option to display it at all times.
  5. It is possible to disable notifications for bundles in the mobile app but not on the web interface.
  6. Google Apps not working right now.
  7. To achieve the bundling and highlighting of important emails, Google analyzes the emails that you get. While that is done by a computer, I dislike the idea of that happening at all.

Closing Words

Inbox aims to make things simpler and more convenient to users, and it will appeal to mobile users especially because of that.

It is not something that I will be using even while on the go. I prefer to use a traditional desktop client -- Thunderbird -- when I work at home and have no need for a web interface there.

What about you? Have you tried Inbox yet? What is your take on it?

Why I won't be using Google's Inbox
Article Name
Why I won't be using Google's Inbox
A quick look at Google's new email service Inbox and why I won't be using it .

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  1. Marco said on October 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I’d like to test it.
    I’ve been quite sucessfully using this workflow to get my Gmail clean: http://klinger.io/post/71640845938/dont-drown-in-email-how-to-use-gmail-more.
    Do you think Inbox can replace my GTD method?

  2. Gabe said on October 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I don’t get alot of emails per day, but i don’t do a lot of auto sorting, as i get notifications of daily backup processes etc. that i like to check every single day. The few i sort, i like the label view gmail provides me, as that said, i didn’t test inbox yet, but personally i don’t like the look i have seen on screenshots so far, i dislike the idea of having my mails in a time line kind of view, but who knows, i will give it a look when i get around to it, maybe i will love it.

  3. Bobby Phoenix said on October 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I won’t be using it either. I’m a very simple email user. I have my Gmail set to show unread on top, and then everything else below. That’s it. No tabs/categories. The biggest gripe I still have is not being able to turn off convo list on Android. I hate when I get two emails from the same place (Like Newegg), and if I open one, archive it, and then get the second, it groups it in my inbox with the first. I don’t want that. Just show them as individual emails, not groups! ugh. /rant over/

  4. GucciPiggy said on October 24, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    My biggest grip is the difficulty to delete emails now. It’s a two step process. It’s rather annoying

    1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Yeah, Google cannot just grasp the notion that people want to delete their emails.

  5. Oliver King said on October 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Inbox was designed for people who are not good with technology and only want to read write and delete their mail. So yea as a technology writer I would not expect you to use inbox & use something for fitting to your technical aptitude.

    1. Vorp said on February 13, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      That’s my #1 gripe with Google Inbox actually. It’s dumbed down, which makes it really hard to use. It’s like the “Check Engine” light in a car, which is utterly useless. You need different indicators for different problems so you know what to check and fix! Since the car won’t just tell me what the actual problem is, I have to buy an expensive car-specific computer, plug that into my car’s CAN network, and query the car’s computer to get it to tell me what it’s upset about, so I can address the issue. In an attempt to simplify my life, they have actually further complicated it! Yeah, I get that I could just take it to a mechanic, but why would I pay their exorbitant rates when it’s not necessary most of the time?

      I appreciate that there are folks out there who are leading the charge towards the world of “Idiocracy”, but I’d rather we as a society make fixing that problem a priority, rather than dumbing down our tools to the lowest common denominator!

  6. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    “To achieve the bundling and highlighting of important emails, Google analyzes the emails that you get. While that is done by a computer, I dislike the idea of that happening at all.”

    So you don’t like spam and malware filtering? Any email service (ie almost all of them) is doing just that. Attempting to further leverage this for the user (potential) benefit is no different. Granted they are also using it to show you ads but that was happening regardless.

    Ultimately if you have problem with a service analyzing your email you shouldn’t be using GMail in the first place.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      I’m not using it as my primary email exactly because of that. But since I write about tech, I need the account for situations like this.

      1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

        Fair enough. It just seems like an unfair criticism since if you (as someone who primarily uses Gmail) are using Gmail you have already agreed to let scan Google scan and filter your email. That is an appropriate concern I suppose for deciding to use Gmail, but you have to make that decision first before this comes into play.

  7. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on October 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    The automatic bundle feature seems like the evolution of the “important” + categories/tabs feature(s). Based on your criticism of it, I take it you don’t make use of one (or both) of those in the current Gmail?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      I dislike the tab feature as it makes it more difficult to access all emails that you get. I know that it can be disabled on Gmail and it is a good thing that this is the case.

      I may be old fashioned but I prefer full control over emails that I receive.

      1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        Long as Google leaves in place the ability to take full control of your email – I don’t see this (or the promotions, social, or even spam) as any different than setting up a bunch a filters to process your email except for saving you the work of doing so. If your happy with the results it is a good thing, if your not it is still good long as you can tweak it to your satisfaction or turn it off altogether.

        Although I am undecided on how I feel about Inbox, I am concerned Google will decide this is the way it is going to be with little option to turn it off or tweak.

  8. CHEF-KOCH said on October 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    This isn’t new at all, wave and other apps does the same, so this is just another hyped product stolen by google. And I don’t get it why someone install a 36 mb+ app to check the emails which can be done with your browser or other smaller apps like K9 and such…
    There us no end-to-end encryption integrated or someone what a user really needs (orwhat would be important for all these days). Sorry but that’s another hype for nothing, Google google everywhere, but people better should care more about privacy and there data. Free mostlymeans ads or tracking and spying (speaking especially for android apps) and we learned a lot about the news from 3 weaks that most ad networks can be compromised easily. I better pay 1 euro to get something that I really really need and that comes without ads or spying instad of getting all 4 free and wondering why all my passwords and data gets leaks in the www.

  9. Blue said on October 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I found that even turning off the tabs system some message get auto sorted into their categories and do not always show up in the main inbox. Thus I began learning to get used to the tabbed inbox system and now I can’t imagine Gmail without it.

    With each type of e-mail that comes through for the first week, I had to specify which tab it should go under. After that it auto sorted all into their correct tabs**. The odd time it puts the wrong e-mail into the wrong tab by simply click it and send it to the correct tab and it will do that for all future ones.

    Two step delete can be changed in the user account but best left on for those of us with butter fingers, so I don’t mind it as much as some who do.

    **I also changed my custom labels to reflect the tabs and their colours so when saving them in the All Mail folder, it actually is easier to see what is what. But personally I prefer folders and sub folders for saving e-mails much like Outlook or MSN web mailbox.

    1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      “Two step delete can be changed in the user account but best left on for those of us with butter fingers, so I don’t mind it as much as some who do.”

      You must be seeing something I don’t because in the Inbox I don’t see any way to change what happens when you slide the mail (unlike GMail where you can set it to delete with a gesture). Personally I don’t mind it not being the default – I just want the option (and as for being a butterfingers, that is what the trash folder is for ;-) ). Most of my email is bacon with no reason to be saved and easy delete is very important to me. I really wish I could specify a filter for “if an email from X is older than Y” to delete it.

      1. ukjaybrat said on January 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm
  10. Rayn said on October 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Does anyone have an invite to spare? I’d like to try.

    1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      Just request an invite from Google – I got one within a day.

  11. Maelish said on October 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    The best email management tool is still my email client. I’m puzzled why people want to go backwards with feature sets. There are some fine web interfaces for email out there, Gmail isn’t one of them.

    1. FDBryant3 said on October 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Because most people don’t want to manage their email. They want it sorted, presented, and pretty much what this is trying to do without having to put in the time required to set up folders, rules, filters, labels, and categories which can be cumberson and complicated.

      Lot of email clients (including Gmail) are very powerful if you put the work into setting it up and maintaining it if you put in the work to learn to do so. Most people don’t want to do so, so Google is trying to make it easy and more functional for people.

  12. Siro said on October 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    You’re mistaken on “The compose interface of the app displays a single line only to compose the email”.

    I just double checked the app and the web interface and you’re clearly wrong on this one. Did you try and write the entire message in the subject line?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Funny. I just checked again and now I get a fullscreen compose window on my Android phone.

  13. Siro said on October 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    “It is possible to disable notifications for bundles in the mobile app but not on the web interface.”
    What exactly do you mean by that?
    You can control the bundling, as well as how often the bundle shows up from both settings screens.
    Mobile phone notifications are really a mobile app feature. It’s deeply tied to the app, and it doesn’t make sense to handle it across the entire application.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Well you can show bundles in the inbox without being notified about new emails on mobile but not on the web, that is what I meant by that.

      1. Siro said on October 25, 2014 at 2:10 am

        Well, what is the meaning of “notifications” outside of your mobile phone and in the context of your web browser?

        Notifications are an android only thing. Inbox does not have desktop notifications (That I’ve seen). In that context, putting the android only notification control in the website options would be out of place.

  14. Siro said on October 24, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    “To achieve the bundling and highlighting of important emails, Google analyzes the emails that you get. While that is done by a computer, I dislike the idea of that happening at all”
    I assume you are also against using outlook / Thunderbird rules to direct mails to different folders depending on sender/content/subject? Because that is also done by a computer which analyzes your mail.

    Are you also against using spam filters that work by machine learning?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      The difference between filters that I set up and Google’s filtering is that I don’t really have control over the latter.

      As long as the spam filter is not deleting spam mails automatically and not sending contents of emails to an online source to check, I find it a valuable asset.

      1. Siro said on October 25, 2014 at 2:18 am

        From playing with it it seems you can disable all the Google default bundles and make your own customized bundles according to your own rules.

        If what bothers you is the rules, then If you use adblock I doubt you go manually controlling the rules. You rely on a bunch of rules other people created. That’s sort of a basic tenet of engineering. The difference whether its done on your computer or on a remote computer is just a matter of wasting your computer’s cycles.

        If it’s an issue of privacy, then unless you’re encrypting your mail, you’re looking under the light. Any mail server not owned by you has hooks which scan the mail for spam, illegal content, and possibly terrorist cues. Your mail is scanned before it ever reaches your desktop e-mail client, on the numerous hops it does to your POP3/IMAP mailbox. You’re just less aware of it.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2014 at 9:30 am

        Interesting, good to know that you can disable the default bundles. I use NoScript by the way, not an ad-blocker and it puts me in full control of what I allow and block.

        Have you any proof for the last statement or is this just an assumption on your part? I know that Google scans the emails while I have yet to see proof that every mail server of the world is monitored by whoever. And yes, encryption I use but not for all mails.

      3. ukjaybrat said on January 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm


        You need proof that your emails are scanned? send an email to another one of your accounts containing child porn or a terroristic threat and see how long it takes to be taken in for questioning.

        It is a very real thing. many scream privacy violation. But i don’t give a rats rear if for the most part it is being used to take down violent crime and child molesters. greater good.

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on January 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm

        I suppose you would not mind that your letters and postcards are opened and scanned as well for the greater good? Maybe that your computer is searched on airports for the greater good?

  15. Joe Siegler said on October 25, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Re #7 in your list. You think it’s not happening already? This is not new, Google’s been doing this since Day 1.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

      It is still a valid reason, don’t you think?

  16. Erika Ward said on October 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I agree that when you first open Inbox, it takes a few minutes to get your head around what is going on. BUT if you just slow down and play with it for a few minutes, you’ll quickly see the benefits of this new interface. (It took me less than 30 minutes to FALL IN LOVE with it!) I think there is a big misunderstanding from those who haven’t tried it yet. It’s not about “sorting” your emails after you read them (though your original email labels are there if you want to do that.) It’s about the system automatically “bundling” the emails AS THEY COME IN, but keeping them in front of your face until you DEAL WITH THEM. That’s right – NO MORE LOST EMAILS because you filed it away somewhere and forgot about it. When looking through a bundle, you can easily “pin” any emails that you want to look at, then get rid of the rest with ONE CLICK. This makes it easy to delete all the junk and see exactly the important items you need. This is going to save me SO MUCH TIME. Inbox is SO wonderful because it’s about turning your email into more of a “task app” so that you can DO the task/email or you can snooze it for later, or mark it as “DONE”. Just like a task. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!? A task manager and email COMBINED. No more separate task reminder apps that you have to integrate with your email and try to hack into a system. For a busy person who is dealing with “to do’s” in email all the time, this program is a DREAM COME TRUE! It has some flaws/glitches that will probably be fixed over time, but I really hope that people catch the vision because I have only used it for a day and I feel that it has REVOLUTIONIZED my email experience.

  17. Michelle said on November 3, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I’m doing a research paper on online data tracking. Can someone explain what “tracking” actually is? ~Thanks

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      Tracking usually refers to being able to identify individuals/computers on the Internet. So, company A knows some or even all of the sites you have been to as well as other information about you such as your location in the world, language, operating system, browser and several other information.

      It may also know when you are using the Internet, what you like (taken from sites you visit, searches you make or “things” you like on social networking sites).

      Some companies have more tools and data at their disposal than others. Google for instance knows a lot about you because of its dominance in many difference sectors.

      1. Anonymous said on November 4, 2014 at 1:35 am

        Thanks for your help! I wasnt sure if someone was really going to answer. So thank you.

        On a separate note, I tried to new Google Inbox. I didnt really care for it. I didnt like the “bundles”, to me, the other Gmail was fine. Maybe it will just take time to get used to.

        Thanks again for your help, your web site will become a regular of mine for tech news.

    2. lateralNw said on November 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Apologies for the long reply

      Tacking real world example –
      If you want first hand insight into tracking then all you have to do is look inside your Gmail settings section. You will be amazed at how much information Google knows about you and that’s only the stuff they share with you.

      (another one that you may not notice is when you click on a search result just watch at the bottom of the screen to how many web sites it goes through before you get to your destination.. why does it do that.. I think its because they are taking note… tracking the sites clicks etc works well on shopping search results)

      To see this insight into tracking and to shock the people that read your research paper follow these steps, from a Chrome browser
      Login to your gmail or inbox
      Click on the blue circle person image (used to be the three bars)
      and select Account
      you should see this menu
      Personal info, Security, Language, Data tools, Account history, Help

      Select Account history and be prepared to be shocked at what Google knows about your habits.
      Things that you search for
      Places you’ve been
      Your YouTube searches
      Things that you’ve watched on YouTube

      and of course just check your browser history that is tracking too.

      On a different note, Google Inbox
      I am trying to like it but I am having trouble.
      While I don’t love Gmail especially, when you want to follow the flow of a subject heading (seems to loop the emails and what with the “…” to open the email to its full view- sorry I digress.
      Looking at my Inbox now I see under Promos emails that are not Promos, they are emails that I have requested from sites that sell stuff, but are not promos.
      Under Updates it has a birthday reminder (that comes from my calendar) and a WordPress message about someone attempting to hack my website.
      Under social an email advising me my Youtube video has been completed.. I would have thought that was personal!

      Perhaps with some fine tuning (if that’s possible) it might work better.
      I have gotten used to the emails in Gmail just being one after the other (mind you I do loose emails in gmail too. i.e. then end up in sent or archive so I loose track of the flow of the messages.

      In Google Inbox I can’t find a way to easily delete email .. yes google there are some of us who don’t want a record living forever, especially when it is junk in my mind.
      As an aside I know have to say Google Inbox as if I just say Inbox It staff may think I am referring to Outlooks Inbox which is a generic term used often. One word Gmail and everyone know who and what I am talking about. In this day of lazy SMSing shorthand you would think Google would have thought of that.

      Two other points my Google Inbox is using https security at least while I have it open, and the Done is a pain but again maybe I just have to get used to it. I found stuff in Done that I didn’t put in there of even tick the “Tick” (which is the same as “Done”)

      I suspect all that white space I currently see oh hang on I have blocked 87 ad’s (I use adblocker as I have a small data usage allowance) Just turned off adblocker to see what would happen and I don’t see any ad? Go figure!

      Love all the comments that have been posted on your site.

  18. Ian Beyer said on December 6, 2014 at 5:43 am

    I’m really not digging it. Finding actual important e-mail in the clutter of all the other crap it’s bundling is an exercise in frustration. The signal to noise ratio is way too low. Now I just need to figure out how to turn the damn thing off.

  19. Frank D said on January 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I too use Thunderbird on my desktop PC for all my e-mail because I don’t like using the clunky Gmail interface. I have set up Gmail to automatically receive all my mail, extract the spam (quite a lot of it) and forward all the good stuff to my PC, after which it sends whatever is in the the Inbox to the Trash. If I want to verify or recapture anything (very infrequently), I can sort through the Spam and Trash and forward it to my desktop if necessary. I’ve been using Gmail and Thunderbird for over three years this way, and it seems to be quite an efficient system.

  20. Mark T said on January 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I definitely agree with you. Google’s new “Inbox” product is definitely not ready for prime time. The search feature is slow and clunky, this is disappointing as search has been one of the stand-out areas of excellence in Gmail since the beginning. Also, it’s the little things – I recently had a huge frustration while trying to reply to a message and then change the subject line – completely impossible in the new Inbox email.

  21. Rob Gilgan said on March 14, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Anyone now how to get rid of Inbox? Between the lack of signature feature and the fact that yesterday it stopped making replies possible, it’s got to go. Cannot find any info anywhere and if I don’t find it soon, I’ll be deleting Chrome, too.

    Suggestions, anyone?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 14, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Rob are you using Inbox on the web?

  22. Thomas said on March 19, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Google Apps users can now also use Google Inbox, at least some have received an invite.

  23. Snooze said on April 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I use carefully crafted filters to nuke messages from absolutely reprehensible people. Now they show up in Inbox. If these could be ported, I might consider a closer look.


  24. Fox said on June 3, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Have to say that (against popular opinion it seems) that I like the new Inbox. I have to say though, I’m not generally a great fan of what Google decides to roll out or (as is the case a lot of the time) not fix. So for me to like this almost immediately is somewhat of a shock.

    I like the way that I can finally create my own rules of where everything goes rather than trying to fit it into three different tabs all of which don’t really describe (in my own mind) what the emails I get are about. I’m using this on Firefox and yes I haven’t had a choice to use it so it seems that Google has decided to roll it out to the masses despite an obviously defiance towards it. But hey, it’s not the first time Google’s forced their products on us! I do, however, feel for those that do not like it. As I said, I’ve been there with some of their other “prod-ervices”.

  25. David said on September 11, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Here’s why I won’t be using it: Using it as it was designed disrupts your ability to use other email clients, including Gmail.

    I just discovered today that all the emails I had marked as “done” are not visible in any other email client. They’re removed from your inbox, and there isn’t a special IMAP folder created for them. They’re labeled as “done”, but that label is not visible in Gmail. The only way to view your “done” emails in any client other than Inbox is to use Gmail and search for “is:done”. In other words, if you’re going to be marking any emails as “done”, as Inbox was specifically designed for you to do, you had better be ready to use Inbox, and only Inbox, to manage your emails from now on. Otherwise you’re in for some tedious fun of going through Inbox and unmarking all of your emails. Thanks, Google. And Goodbye Inbox.

    1. Bubba Jones said on November 10, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Done in Inbox is the same as All Mail in Gmail. Why Google used a different naming convention is pure speculation. Go to this Google website: https://support.google.com/inbox/answer/6098273?hl=en it should answer questions on Inbox and Gmail differences.



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