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 if you want to ...
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
A feature that's not everyone knows about Gmail is the subaddressing feature.
It's possible to add a +TEXT at the end of your email address, like youremail+TEXT@gmail.com (where "TEXT" can be whatever you want, alphanumeric and - _ ); this feature is very powerful and can help you segment your email, especially newsletters or services (like the user in the ...
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.
Shortly after I posted my question, I found the solution in point number 4 on the answer on this page:
Hi Stacey, there are four places that the Inbox label can be removed.
1 - [...]
4 - If another device (e.g. mobile phone) is connected to your account
using IMAP, archiving messages in that device will remove them from
After some experimenting,...
On the Gmail search box write from:firstname.lastname@example.org
Click the search box dropdown
Click on the Create filter button
Check Categorize as an select Primary
Additionally you might also check Always mark it as important
Click on Create filter
How does Gmail Categorise the email as Primary, Social, etc.?
How to move messages in "...
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 ...
I found a different solution. I created more gmail accounts with names to match my requirements. Like "MyName.email@example.com" I registered this with my banks and credit cards. Then another like "MyName.firstname.lastname@example.org" Used it with all my visa applications and travel plans. Works out just fine.
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.
The best workaround I found for not being able to create custom categories is to set a filter that automatically applies a label and archives emails from specific senders. I just scroll to the label whenever I need/want to interact with those specific emails and can easily ignore them when I don't.
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.