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How can I stop Gmail from categorizing my e-mails under two labels, "Updates" and "General". I created a new category called "Travel", another called "Finance".

Each time I apply a filter or a manually assign those label or categories to my email(s), the category "Updates" also gets applied. I have tried everything. The worse thing is, each time I try to remove the "Updates" label, it also removes the "Travel" or "Finance" label, almost as if they are nested inside Updates which I have no visual indication that that's the case.

If this is by design, it makes no sense. This has to be a glitch and if so, how can I solve it? It's very very inefficient as I have already spent hours trying to find a workaround.

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Categories are separate from labels. Gmail makes guesses and learns over time what categories to apply to some messages. Labels are designations you give yourself.

You can help it learn by moving such messages out of "Updates" and into "Primary" (which is essentially "no category). Drag-and-drop (on the category tab) works, but so should the "Move" command.

You could also stop using Categories altogether if they don't work for you. (Change the settings of your Inbox.)

If you want to force messages which you label "Travel" with a filter to not go into "Updates", just make a second filter which mimics the first, but instead of applying the "Travel" label, have the action be to apply the "Primary" category.

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