Gmail has an automatic categorisation feature that sorts mail into various categories (social, promotions, updates, etc.). I would like to have an "Updates" tab, but I would like to disable the automatic categorisation so that the only mail that goes into this category is mail that I set up a filter for.

I currently have my mail going into a label, but labels aren't quite as nice as the tabs that categories have.

Is there a way to prevent mail automatically being assigned to a category?

5 Answers 5


It's not possible to prevent mails from being automatically assigned to a category. You can disable tabs though.


You can try using multiple inboxes.

  1. Create a filter and label for those messages. Call the label updates
  2. Enable the multiple inboxes option via Gear button/Settings/labs.
  3. Under settings/multiple inboxes set the top box as "is:updates"
  4. Click save changes.

Options on that page also let you position the inbox and set the number of messages to be displayed.


After years of despising this "feature", I finally found a solution.

  • Go to Settings -> See All Settings
  • Go to the "Filters and Blocked Addresses".
  • "Create a New Filter"
  • Make the search criteria "Greater than 1 Byte" (all messages will match this filter)

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  • Set the filter to "Categorize as Primary"

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It's been a few weeks now and not a single message has skipped my inbox. All the Categories are empty.


Give this filter a try:

category:updates -label:LABEL_NAME

Set it up so that the Has Words filter option has the above text in it, and then have it so that the assigned category for anything without the label is something like Personal. Essentially this filter will look in the category updates, and anything without the specified label is selected. You use the filter to move these emails to a different category. As long as they have the correct label they will not be moved.

Here are some screenshots:

filter params

filter settings


Use the following filters in your filter settings:

Matches: "your email address"@gmail.com,
Do this: Skip Inbox, Never send it to Spam,

Never mark it as important, Categorize as Primary

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