Google redesigns the Gmail Inbox

Google yesterday unveiled a new look for its Gmail service, which is designed to simplify and streamline e-mail use for the roughly 450 million worldwide Gmail account holders.

As we all know, the big problem with e-mail is sorting through the Inbox. With newsletters, notifications, social networking updates, and a daily dose of spam, we almost have to conduct a search for the e-mails that really matter.

Google plans to change all that with the introduction of Inbox tabs. Starting out there will be 5 default tabs, which Google is labeling Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. Each tab will effectively be its own separate Inbox containing incoming e-mail pre-sorted as follows:

Primary: Person-to-person e-mail and messages that don’t appear in other tabs.

Social: Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, and other social websites.

Promotions: Deals, offers, and other marketing e-mails.

Updates: Personal, auto-generated updates including confirmation, receipts, bills and statements.

Forums: Messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists.

Gmail account holders can opt to use all 5 tabs, no tabs or any number in between. If, say, you wanted just Primary and Social, then all e-mail that wasn’t covered by the Social definition above would automatically default into the Primary tab. Users can change their tabs at any time or default back to the existing setting by just choosing Primary.

Gmail users also have the ability to move e-mail between tabs, either by dragging and dropping individual e-mails or by setting up filters. Plus, Gmail will learn from your adjustments. For example, if you drag your Google Play receipts from the Updates tab to Primary, then all future Google Play receipts will appear in the Primary tab too.

Google is gradually rolling out the changes over the next few weeks. Interestingly, the changes are being rolled out to different e-mail accounts at different times even if they belong to the same user. To see if the new format is available for your account, log into Gmail and click on the gear wheel on the right-hand side. If you see the ‘Configure Inbox’ option, then your account has been updated and you are ready to set up your tabs.

Google will also release updates for mobile devices, which will be available shortly through Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

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