Gmail is rolling out a new feature for the inbox. They announced it in a May 2013 blog entry.
We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends,
social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts,
and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make
it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. ...
Categories are tabs you can have display in your Inbox to help you organize your incoming messages automatically. You can almost also treat them like labels.
Labels are "tags" you put on messages. You have to explicitly put the label(s) on a message (or conversation), either through direct action or via a filter.
Categories, on the other hand, are Google's ...
They're not labels per se, but inbox categories. They're put into your labels list as a convenience, so that moving messages into or out of a category is easier. Moving a message into or out of a category informs Gmail how to categorize similar messages in the future.
You can turn them on or off in Settings > Inbox > Categories.
Unfortunately, you ...
Yes (at least for now).
Click the arrow next to your Inbox on the left side. You'll get a menu like this:
Choose one of the other options. It eschews the category tabs, but does group your email based on other factors, like whether you've "starred" a message or Google's algorithms have determined it's "important".
If you don't like those groupings either, ...
No, you can't create categories with Gmail (yet). You could try the multiple inboxes feature, but it feels a bit primitive compared to tabs.
Multiple Inboxes (MI) is a Gmail Labs feature. It requires switching off the standard category tabs (i.e., only one default inbox view). You can then have custom search results listed above/below/beside this main inbox....
Directly from GMail's help:
Move messages between tabs
If you see a message in your inbox that you want in a different tab, all you have to do is drag and drop it into the other tab. Another way to do this is to right-click a message while viewing your inbox.
After you move a message to a different tab, a message above your inbox will ask ...
I'm afraid not. (At least, not at this time.) All you can do with the categories (beyond "Primary") is turn them on or off.
An option for you is to create a custom label for your work email and have those messages drop into "Primary". Easy enough to do with a filter.
On the left hand panel, you need to "Create a New Label" and add the name of what you would like your new category to be. Once you've done that, you can select the emails you would like and apply that label to them.
One solution is to create labels, and then use multiple inboxes from the labs section of settings.
You can then have sections of your inbox that only show messages with that label.
This solution does allow you to control the logic used to assign the messages to the label. You can even manually assign messages if it is impossible to use a filter to do so.
Assuming you have a suitably modern browser simply drag the message from the message list and drop it on the tab where you'd like it to be organized for the future. (You should be prompted by Gmail whether or not you want future messages from the same sender to be added to the new category tab.)
If your browser doesn't allow for that, or if you want to move ...
A listing of other users expressing (various degrees of) outrage over the same topic can be found here. As before, the accepted solution doesn't work.
However, one person found a temporary solution using Adblock Plus (here, first message on Jun 26 (of 2013, I assume)):
It's not a problem to do this at all: go to ABP filter preferences, then select "...
1st step delete any filters that might have been setup (Found under settings > filters)
2nd step only enable the tabs you want (Under main Gmail page)
3rd and last step go to your spam folder > select all and press not spam
From here you will have removed all unwanted filters and marked everything that isn't spam as not spam for Gmail and you can ...
That's part of the new inbox announced 29-May.
To revert back:
Click the Gear icon and go into Settings.
On the Inbox tab, change the "Inbox type:" to be something besides the default. You probably want "Priority Inbox".
I would think category:primary would work. You'd put that in the "Has the words" field.
(I just tried it, and it seems to work.)
If that doesn't work for you, there's only a few categories, so you could always try negation.
-category:updates, -category:social, -category:forums, -category:promotions
In other words, not one of the other categories.
Simply drag-and-drop those conversations to the "Primary" tab. Gmail will ask you if you want future messages from that sender to be categorized the same way.
(If drag-and-drop doesn't work for you, you can use the the "Labels" tool; the inbox categories are at the bottom of the list. I think you just need to uncheck the "Updates" category.)
If that still ...
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.
Gmail won't tell you exactly how it filters messages into each of the tabs/categories, but the overview is this:
Primary - Email from your contacts, friends and family, and those that didn't filter into other tabs.
Promotions - Specials, deals, coupons and similar from stores, shopping carts and the like.
Social - Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and ...
You can try using multiple inboxes.
Create a filter and label for those messages. Call the label updates
Enable the multiple inboxes option via Gear button/Settings/labs.
Under settings/multiple inboxes set the top box as "is:updates"
Click save changes.
Options on that page also let you position the inbox and set the number of messages to be displayed.