Gmail gives you several customizable formats, so many that you can have multiple Gmail accounts and they can all be completely different. For example, you can have all your emails in one long list, you can separate your messages into multiple tabs, or you can divide your inbox into unread and read messages.
Besides that, there are several other ways to organize your inbox, from adding a reading pane to creating your own categories for organizing emails. Here’s how you can customize your Gmail interface and explore all the options.
How to change your inbox layout:
- Click the cog icon in the upper right corner of the screen
- A “Quick Settings” sidebar will open on the right side of your inbox, allowing you to adjust some settings. For example, you can adjust the display density, which controls the compactness of your messages. You can also choose the position of your reading pane and the type of inbox you have. (We will come back to this later.)
- Click “See all settings” at the top of this sidebar for more options
- Click the Inbox tab
Next to “Inbox type”, you have several options to choose from in the drop-down menu:
- “Default” places your emails in the familiar separate vertical tabs
- “Important First”, “Unread First”, and “Following First” each divide the inbox into two sections horizontally: the section you choose first (Important, Unread, or Followed) and then everything else
- “Priority Inbox” and “Multiple Inboxes” each create different sections in your email, and you can scroll down to view each section. (We’ll see how to customize both configurations later in this article.) Depending on the type of inbox you choose, the next steps will be slightly different.
- If you select the default inbox configuration, under “Inbox type”, next to “Categories”, you can check the boxes to decide how your emails are sorted. You can hover over each category name to see examples of the types of emails that will be sorted into which tab. If you want your email to display in one tab, you can uncheck all the boxes. (But you can’t deselect Main.) You also have the option to “Include a star in the main element” so that any email you star will also appear in the main element, no matter what. either the other category to which it belongs. And if you’ve found yourself annoyed by the advertisements that display above your various inbox tabs, you can uncheck “Bundling in promotions”.
- The options for “Important First”, “Unread First”, and “Next First” are similar. Under “Inbox Sections”, you can click the Options button to select how many emails you want to appear in each section.
- If you select ‘Important First’ or ‘Priority Inbox’, you’ll see an additional option that allows you to change how Gmail counts your unread emails: whether this count only reflects important unread emails , all your unread emails or a ratio of the largest to all.
- You also have the option to add a reading pane, unless you are in the Multiple Inboxes layout. After checking the box next to “Enable Reading Pane”, you can use the options below to select the location of the pane.
- In the “Importance marker” section, you can choose whether Gmail displays yellow tabs (indicating an important message) next to emails and whether Gmail automatically assigns them based on your activity.
- At the bottom of the page there is an option to “Override filters” or “Don’t override filters”. You can adjust these filters in the “Filters and blocked addresses” tab in the settings.
- When you’re done, don’t forget to click “Save Changes”.
How to set up Focused Inbox:
If you choose to use Focused Inbox, you can use the drop-down menu next to each option in “Inbox Sections” to choose which categories to include and which to remove, the number of messages from each section to include and whether to hide a section when it is empty.
- To add another section, navigate to the Label tab at the top of the Settings menu
- Click on the “Create a new label” button at the bottom of the menu
- Type a name for your label in the pop-up window. Then click “Create”.
- Go to the “Inbox” tab and click on “Options” next to an inbox section
- Select “More options” from the drop-down menu
- Select the label from the drop-down options that appear
- Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the menu
How to set up multiple inboxes:
- Select Multiple inboxes in Inbox type.
- To configure your inboxes, you will need to enter a search operator in each category, such as is:starred or is:unread. You can create up to five sections.
- You can add a label for each category in Section Name
- Type the number of emails you want to display in each category, next to “Maximum page size”
- To change the placement of sections, adjust it in “Inbox multiple position”
Updated February 10, 2022, 9:40 a.m. ET: This article was originally published on July 6, 2020 and has been updated to include the “Bundling in promotions” option.