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?

  • I wish that Gmail had made this simple. Like "in:inbox is:unread category:primary". Oct 2, 2013 at 2:55

5 Answers 5


Gmail now supports

category:primary is:unread
  • 2
    This seems correct, but it would be nice if you could link to a source for your information. Dec 20, 2013 at 11:09
  • 1
    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.
    – ale
    Dec 20, 2013 at 12:56
  • 1
    you are the man, been looking for this for a while
    – MikeSchem
    Sep 25, 2017 at 21:09
  • this is great - TIP: bookmark the search results page -- and put it somewhere handy in your browser
    – aequalsb
    Jan 17, 2019 at 20:13
  • That is the filer I've been looking for years :D
    – Blissful
    Oct 23, 2019 at 12:54

The category filter now knows how to filter the "Primary" inbox, so you can use

in:inbox category:primary

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

in:inbox category:primary is:unread

Earlier answer:

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
  • category:primary is:unread as specified in the accepted answer does in fact work. Just putting it in a comment here directly since the first time I looked here, I took this as fact. Sep 17, 2017 at 23:49

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.


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.


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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