How to Move Messages Between Inbox Tabs in Gmail

Use tabs in Gmail to categorize your incoming email

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, Gmail's filtering is accurate, but occasionally you might find an important message hidden on the Updates tab or a newsletter cluttering the Primary inbox tab. Here's how to correct that.

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.

    A message selection checkbox in Gmail
  2. Drag the messages to the tab on which you want them to appear.

    Dragging messages to a 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.

    The Yes and Undo options

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

  1. Click 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.

    The Move to Tab command in the options 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.

    The Settings gear in Gmail
  2. Under Inbox Type, select Customize.

    This step assumes you're using the Default inbox type.

    A Gmail inbox with the Settings menu displayed and the customize inbox type link highlighted
  3. Place a checkmark in front of each of the tabs you want to use. 

    The tab selection box
  4. 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.

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