How to Move Messages Between Inbox Tabs in Gmail

Use tabs in Gmail to categorize your incoming email

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The tabs that Google offers for organizing incoming email appear at the top of the main screen, next to Primary. These include Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums; which of these you see depends on how you've set them up.

Usually, the filtering to the tabs is accurate, but occasionally, you might find an important message hidden from initial view on the Updates tab or a newsletter cluttering the Primary inbox tab.

Whenever the classification Gmail has performed does not suit you, you can easily correct and reclassify it. Gmail will treat future messages from the same address as you just did to avoid repeating the mistake.

How to Move Messages Between Inbox Tabs in Gmail

To move a message to a different tab in your Gmail inbox and to set up a rule for future emails from the sender:

  1. In your Inbox, click and hold the message you want to move. You can move more than one message at a time by placing a checkmark in the box before each one you want to move before clicking one of them.

    Selected emails in Gmail
  2. Drag the messages to the tab on which you want them to appear.

    Dragging email to another tab in Gmail
  3. To set up a rule for future messages from the same email address (assuming you moved emails from only one sender), select Yes in the Do this for future messages from box that opens. Selecting Undo moves the message(s) back to the original tab.

    Do this for future messages? in Gmail

As an alternative to dragging and dropping, you can use a message's contextual menu:

  1. Click on the message you want to move to a different tab with the right mouse button. To move more than one conversation or email, check all messages or entire conversations you want to move.

  2. Choose Move to tab from the contextual menu and select the tab where you want the message or messages to appear.

    The tab choices available in the contextual menu include only those you've chosen to use. You can change these by selecting Settings > Configure inbox, as detailed below.

    Gmail contextual menu
  3. To create a rule for the sender's future messages (assuming you moved emails from only one sender), click Yes under Do this for future messages from in the box that opens.

How to Open or Close the Tabs

If you've never seen the tabs and want to try them out, here's how to set them up:

  1. In your Gmail screen, click the Settings cog icon in the upper right corner.

    Click the Settings gear (⚙) in your Gmail's navigation bar.
    Click the Settings gear (⚙) in your Gmail's navigation bar. Google, Inc.
  2. Select Configure inbox from the drop-down menu that appears.

  3. Place a checkmark in front of each of the tabs you want to use. 

    Gmail tab settings
    Google, Inc.
  4. Place a checkmark in front of Include starred in Primary so emails from starred individuals always appear in your Primary inbox.

  5. Select Save.

If you change your mind later, follow this same process and unclick all but the Primary tab to return to a single tab.