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With the new Gmail inbox, I've gotten into the habit of ignoring everything that's not in the Primary inbox. I don't care about anything that's in any of the other inboxes (inboxen?). When I search for something, I only want to see things from my primary inbox. However, searching for something brings up results from all the inboxes. How can I only search the Primary inbox?

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I wish that Gmail had made this simple. Like "in:inbox is:unread category:primary". – Shashank Sawant Oct 2 '13 at 2:55
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Doesn't look like the "category" filter knows how to filter to the "Primary" inbox, but you can do it by excluding the other categories like so:

in:inbox -category:(updates OR promotions OR social OR forums)

Or, to show just unread messages in the "Primary" inbox:

in:inbox -category:(updates OR promotions OR social OR forums) is:unread
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Gmail now supports

category:primary is:unread
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This seems correct, but it would be nice if you could link to a source for your information. – Vidar S. Ramdal Dec 20 '13 at 11:09
support.google.com/mail/answer/7190 would seem to be the source for the information, but I don't see that it was announced anywhere. – Al E. Dec 20 '13 at 12:56

Confirmed, as of 1-30-14,

is:unread category:primary 


I think I've been using is:unread category:primary-inbox for a while but I think they just discontinued it, because it wasn't working for me today.

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category:primary is:unread works better than in:inbox -category:(updates OR promotions OR social OR forums) is:unread. The latter, for me, excluded other unread emails from my primary inbox.

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I landed on this and what I ended up finding most useful was the source of information we are all looking for:

The GMail Advanced Search topic in Google's Help/Support documenation


This is the most important thing to remember as in the future it will change yet again. Remember to look up Advanced Search in Google's help forum for the current solution.

As of April 2014 what works and is supported is:




an example is:important is:unread to clean out your primary inbox.

"Meaning: Messages [...] that were marked as important by Priority Inbox"

I intend to, but of course cannot promise, I will update my answer as the solution changes. I am quite dependent on advanced search.

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