How to Optimize Inbox With Gmail Priority

Forget the gimmicks: Here's the best way to organize your Gmail inbox

Inbox gimmicks keep popping up. First, Google introduced Priority Inbox. Category tabs are now used. Dropbox bought Mailbox, which makes your inbox more like a to-do list. Microsoft Outlook.com has a sweep feature that automatically cleans up your inbox.

All of these are attempts to manage your email inbox for you. These gimmicks are never as smart as you are, so you can make your email a lot smarter by taking on a more active role.

We'll be using Gmail here, but the principles should be similar for every email client.

Use a classic inbox

First, we're going to remove the unconventional inbox that Gmail is in use today. In these inboxes, the categories and priorities never match perfectly. It forces you to go through all of your emails to make sure you don't miss anything and encourages you to keep receiving spam emails by sweeping them under the rug.

For a more classic inbox in Gmail, click the gear icon and select Settings. Click the Inbox tab, click the Inbox Type box and select Unread first. All tabs and priority options are hidden.

Unsubscribe from emails that don't interest you

With tabbed categories and priorities off, all of your emails will be sorted into one big batch. All of the unnecessary social notification emails and newsletters that you don't care about are in your inbox along with your actual important emails.

This is good - instead of just sweeping emails that you don't want to see under the rug, prevent them from arriving in full.

Think about the type of email you don't want to see. Common types of useless email are Facebook and Google+ notifications, promotional emails, and newsletters that you may have signed up for by mistake. When an email arrives that you don't want to see, open it and click the "Unsubscribe" link. This can generally be found at the very bottom of the email to stop unsubscribing from the email and prevent it from arriving in the future.

(Note that you should not use the Unsubscribe link. If an email is indeed spam, the spammer will take this as a sign that someone is reading the email and sending even more spam. Click the button " Spam "if the email is genuine spam, and click Unsubscribe if it is a legitimate organization.)

Sure, unsubscribing is actually a bit more work upfront, but it makes your email a lot easier to manage in the long run. When an email arrives that you're not interested in, click the unsubscribe link and immediately stop receiving future emails.

Send unusable email that you cannot unsubscribe from

Under US law (specifically the CAN-SPAM Act) it is actually illegal for a company not to provide an unsubscribe link in their emails so that you can unsubscribe from future emails. However, some companies either didn't receive the memo or aren't interested in it. Instead of taking legal action to get out of their email lists, you can just create a filter that will send all future email from them to your trash, where you won't have to see them.

Open this option when editing such an email in Gmail, click the More link and select Filter messages like this. Optimize your filter to block the emails. For example, if you do not want to receive any further emails from this sender, you can filter based on the email address. Use your filter to move all of those emails to the trash.

Automatically archive emails that you don't want to see

Some emails are important, but you canI don't want to see them anyway. For example, online stores can send you a confirmation receipt every time you buy something from them. It's good to have such evidence just in case you need it. However, if you buy products frequently and never want to see emails like this, you may want to keep them from getting to your inbox in the first place.

This applies to many different types of email - example: PayPal sends you an email titled "We're transferring money to your bank" every time you withdraw funds. You may want this email for your records, but it may not be in your inbox.

CONNECTED:Here's how to use Gmail's advanced search features and create filters

If you automatically archive such emails as they are Come in, you can put this process on autopilot. Just open such an email, click the "More" button in Gmail, and choose "Filter Messages Like This". Optimize your filter to include the emails you want to intercept - probably based on the subject if it's always the same. Tell Gmail to automatically archive the emails and mark them as read so they don't bother you.

You can also have Gmail apply automatically, label them "Automatically Archived" or a more specific label. So in the future you can quickly find the emails when you actually need them.

Set up automatic labels

After following this process you should be able to reduce the volume of incoming emails. Now let's help you sort out the emails that interest you.

This part is optional, but it can help if you get a lot of email, especially for different purposes. For example, you might have multiple Gmail accounts in one inbox and get all of your personal and business email in the same place.

Try to create filters that automatically sort your incoming emails into specific labels. For example, you can have your bank automatically attach a “bank” label to e-mails. You could put a "personal" label on personal email and a "business" label on business email. Receipts for purchased products can be provided with a receipt label. This part does not have to be done manually. Just set up Gmail to have your emails automatically sorted by category.

Color code all of these labels and you can have your email client automatically categorizing your emails and showing you where they came from at a glance. To color-code a label in Gmail, click the appropriate color box in the left pane and select a new color.

CONNECTED:How to get notifications only for the emails that interest you in Gmail

With such a labeling system, you can even use the Gmail app on Android and email notifications on other platforms to notify you only when there are new messages on important labels, which prevents the notifications from being overloaded.

If there are certain emails that you would like to be highlighted - possibly emails from your manager or spouse - you can set up a filter to automatically flag messages from that sender when they arrive. You can select the inbox type "Marked first" in the settings of your Gmail inbox so that such important e-mails automatically reach the top of your inbox. This would happen exactly how you configured Gmail - you wouldn't have to struggle with the Inbox priority system and try to teach Gmail what actually matters.


This is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. Sure, after unsubscribing from emails or setting up a filter, your email client will continue to process all incoming emails. However, new types of email will always come in. You need to take steps to unsubscribe and filter them properly so that your email inbox doesn't get disorganized again.

Email gimmicks try to automate this process - they try to automatically hide emails you don't want to see, highlight what's important, and categorize your emails for you. With a little more preparation, you can set up your email inbox to work exactly the way you want it to.