Smart Labels Can Help You Automatically Sort Messages in Gmail

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If you love to keep your Gmail inbox clean and free of newsletters, notifications, mailing lists, promotions, and other bulk emails, but you don't have time to set up or modify a rule for each new sender, Gmail can sort these messages for you automatically.

Google once offered Smart Labels under its experimental Gmail Labs product, and it's since integrated the feature into Gmail.

Smart Labels Explained

Gmail's Smart Labels feature breaks up your inbox into five separate categories:

  • Primary: Personal emails and messages that don't belong in the other categories go here.
  • Social: Emails from social networks, media-sharing sites, dating services, and other social sites are shown here.
  • Promotions: Deals, offers, and other marketing emails go here.
  • Updates: Confirmations, bills, receipts, statements, etc.
  • Forums: Messages from online groups, message boards, etc.

When you receive an email, Gmail will automatically filter it into one of these categories as long as you have them enabled.

How to Configure Gmail Smart Labels Tabs

You can choose which of the five categories appear in your inbox via Gmail's settings. Here's how:

  1. Select the Settings gear icon in Gmail's navigation bar

  2. Select Configure inbox from the menu that appears.

    Screenshot of the Configure Inbox setting in Gmail
  3. Choose which message categories you want to show as inbox tabs. Other messages will appear in the Primary tab by default.

    Screenshot depicting Gmail tabs settings
  4. Press Save.

Additionally, you can choose to allow messages from starred senders to appear in the Primary inbox, even if they'd normally go elsewhere. This makes it easier to spot important emails you might want to follow up on.