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These New GMail changes hurt you (and me). Do this to fix it
Last Updated July 22nd, 2013

Last week, GMail quietly rolled out some MASSIVE changes to their email inbox.

…And if you run an email newsletter, you’re probably PISSED (or scared) about what these changes mean to you and your business.

Here’s what people on Facebook had to say:




But I’ve got your back.

Here’s what happened:

New GMail Category Tabs — A Legitimate Business Nightmare

GMail rolled out these automatic category tabs. By default, the categories are “Primary / Social / Promotions.” See the picture right here:


Here’s why this matters to you. In a lot of cases, GMail labels content-filled emails as “Promotions.”

That means, if you send content to your list (like I do), your content will be featured alongside spammy Promotional emails.

Not only does this negatively affect your brand, but it also puts people are at risk of NOT getting your emails. The emails they signed up for. The emails they WANT.


People who opted in to your mailing list — and double confirmed their email — may not get your emails because Google decided to erect this artificial wall between you and your customers.

You know what’s funny about this? When you create a barrier like this between companies and their users, one of the only ways to get back in touch with the people who want to hear from you is to buy advertising.

Heck, I was buying Facebook ads just to get this message about GMail out to all of you.

Kind of convenient for a company that relies on advertising revenue, no? 🙂

Here’s How To Ensure You Don’t Miss Email Updates From Me (And Users Don’t Miss Email Updates From You)

Now I know you like the updates I share to Social Triggers — which is why you’re on the list. You also know that my main goal has always been to provide some of the BEST content on the web.

(That’s why I have a podcast where I feature NYT best-selling authors. That’s why I spend nearly $1,000 to produce one Social Triggers TV video).

And I’m sure you don’t want to miss out on emails JUST LIKE THIS letting you know something that can either make – or break – your business.

So, I have a suggestion for you. I’m going to show you what to do so you don’t miss out on emails from me. I also suggest you share this with your readers so they don’t miss out on emails from you.

You have two options.

Option #1

First, if you’re like me, and you want to be in control of what real email gets sent to you (as opposed to trusting some shifty algorithm), you can disable the new categories by doing this:

Click the little X at the top right of your inbox — next to the tabs. See the screenshot right here:


Then, when that pops up, uncheck the “Social and Promotions” box, and click save. Then you’ll revert to the traditional, much BETTER GMail inbox.


Option #2

If you want to keep these silly little tabs because you think they’ll be valuable, but you’re worried about missing out on valuable emails that impact your business (like this one), do this:

Step 1: Go to the Promotions Tab (like this)


Step 2: Find an Email from “Derek Halpern” in your inbox. You can do control find, to make scanning your inbox faster and easier.


Step 3: Drag that email into your Primary Inbox.

When you find an email from me, drag and drop the email into your “Primary” inbox.

Then, you’ll get an alert saying, “This conversation has been moved to “Primary.” Do this for future messages from news(@)socialtriggers.com?” And click “YES!”


And you should be all set.

Now I have a question for you.

What do you think of these new GMail filters? Do you think it’s okay for a company to roll out a change where they take control over your inbox?

Leave a comment here.

Also, if you run an email newsletter, (or know someone that runs an email newsletter), share this with them. The only way to maintain control over OUR inboxes is to vote with our actions.

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208 comments Leave a comment

I hate it. I thought I was losing my mind. Without warning I stopped getting emails. Important ones! I also missed out on invites to events, volunteer opportunities for an organization I have been without fail receiving emails from until this change. Everyone thought I was suddenly someone who was unorganized and unprofessional! Thank you for your post. It’s very helpful to everyone. I had to do so much damage control over the past few weeks. What a nightmare!

vicky ojha

There are different email issues you come to face everyday like password recovery or email login issue,in case you need any type of assistance related to email you can contact experts


Hi I have been using gmail for many years now and everything was going smoothly until recently, I have the three usual tabs and all the household bills I put in the “promotions” tab but the other day my “promotions tab was empty, all my previous bills have dissapeared.


I came across this while searching for a solution to a different problem, and I’m not sure how old the thread is. But when those tabs came out, I will admit to quite a bit of frustration, as with most new changes. I get used to my way of doing things, and “updates” don’t give me a choice in how I want to manage my stuff. I’ve long thought that updates should come with a link to a site which has instructions and comments. That way, users could get a “manual” of sorts on all the changes and their effects, as well as share insights, problems and solutions.
Perhaps this has already been mentioned -with regard to the tabs, my primary thought was that Google should let the user name the tabs, and set up the filters ourselves, so that we could sort our email in the way that works for us.

Victor Iweanya

Apart from me a user doing all this, how does a company ensure the emails go straight to the primary inbox even though the user has PROMOTIONS and UPDATES tab turned on?

Mauureen King

I hate your interference with my email setup. I don’t want to tell you all my business thank you. If I want to email I want to do it quickly as I used to; not fill in forms to the world and his wife. Please go back to easy emailing

M King


The gmail changes suck, along with the google maps changes. I had these wired, and now they are harder and less intuitive. Change for change’s sake is not good.


When was this article written? It’s hard to judge how useful it is – could we please get some dates with the blog headlines to see how relevant the information might be?


    Andrij Harasewych

    Agree. Too many bloggers obscure the date in an effort to make the content more palatable year round – so that people don’t avoid just because of the date.

    But especially for app updates and other posts like this – a date is vital to readers for context.


I’m like many people, not a fan of change. But I know Google is always trying to improve their usability and efficiency so even though I do not like the changes they make I do accept them as I know they are always trying to help improve their system for their users.


    Google are not “trying to improve their usability and efficiency”: they are trying to make more money for themselves.

Lorene Benoit

Thanks for this info – probably why my natural health newsletter reader ratings have gone WAY down!
Can you comment on what exactly defines whether Google puts you a promotion or not? Is it the subject, a link or because it is sent from a Mail server, such as Maul Chimp , the one I use?


    They’re categorizing as “promotions” emails that are sent to many people about some business-related thing. You can’t game the algorithm by changing mail server or number of links or something like that, because what you’re sending *is* a promotion. The algorithm is continually re-tuned to detect and redirect business promotional emails.
    Derek’s article listed two options for control of your Inbox. One was described as true control, telling Google not to categorize your emails, as they used not to do but are now in an Orwellian nightmare dystopia.. The other option was to tell Google that emails from a particular vendor are welcome.
    People (i.e. your customers) want the second options, always. They want to be able to avoid advertisements easily. BUT, if you send interesting emails, articles that have insight, good advice, etc., then perhaps they want to filter their emails so that yours are not simply shoved to “Promotions.”

Derk O'Brien

I’ve come to the conclusion that Google is run by a pack of cunts who avoid taxes, avoid customer support, avoid common courtesy, all in efforts to emass huge dollars. Putting it bluntly: zero integrity, zero social conscience, and an Owellian inspired dedication to invasion of privacy and feeding your business to NSA.
I am about to dismantle my gmail account and trash it, just as I have to their chrome browser.


I can’t take this anymore. I am losing out on important emails because they get hidden. I like to organize my email myself. Please go back to the old gmail. I think I am changing email accounts if something doesn’t happen soon.
It takes way too much time to sort through someone else’s idea of organized.


It organizes things, but as a content provider, my paid clients get their research in the promotions tab and sometimes don’t read it.

Liv Bliss

I LOATHE the tabs and thank you so much for showing me how to disable them — Google’s instructions didn’t make clear whether or not I would lose all the messages under the unwanted tabs if I did disable them. I LOATHE that Google sprang this on us without warning. Couldn’t figure out why stuff that was appearing in Outlook had suddenly stopped showing up in GMail, which was its first stop — yes, I’m a) old fashioned and b) unobservant. It took me a while to recognize the pattern. So, yes, I’m c) slow too. But my email was already exactly as organized as I wanted it to be (i.e., not at all), Google, so stop telling me what I should want. Nothing against those who need someone else to run their lives, but warn the rest of us when you’re going to pull something like this, OK?


I think it is very helpful to filter emails. If it’s developed so there is there some easy way to manage this it will be brilliant. Managing emails is a nightmare for most of us because we are not technically equipped to organise fully. I don’t want anyone to organise my life but any help I can get where I am in control is most welcome.


I love this new change!!! My inbox is so organized since then! The first few days I had to go through all labels to make sure everything went to the proper tab, and since then, it’s perfect. I do occasionally look through everything else, just to make sure, but it’s always good…


1. This just hurt my business. No wonder people aren’t responding to the personal emails with sample images and links to their personal galleries! Class action lawsuit time!

2. They should NOT re-categorize my email, or anyones. Period. If they want to add a new feature, great, provided I get to choose to turn it on, instead of search the internet for how to turn it off.

3. Google HAD a clean landing page and handy services. Now they are going Microsoft on us. Automatic features we have to dig down to turn off. Better sell my stock and look for the guys that are about to replace them.


When they changed the gmail to this, I had to go and disable new categories (and learn how to!) in my inbox, then my parents’ and then my grandma’s. Spent a good part of my Saturday. Thanks Google!


Great information! I really had no idea how to deal with these new tabs, Thank you for letting me know how to handle them and keep getting updates 🙂


As a google for business subscriber I like the separation. I have so many newsletters and belong to so many social sites due to my business that I sometimes I miss work emails. I’ve meant to go back to view some newsletters (but never have). Now that it’s separated, I know I’m not going to miss important emails. I just have to train the inbox to include what I want in my primary folder.
On the other hand, as a business person, I have prospective clients on drip email campaigns or newsletters. I’m concerned that this will negatively impact my business.

Edenna Taylor

Leave my gmail alone … you have newsletters that I have subscribed to for years, which means they are primary to me, in your promotions category – THEY ARE NOT PROMOTIONS ~ THEY ARE MINE!


    You can eliminate the folders, easily, and keep your inbox exactly as it was before.


I do a lot of marketing through mail and this is very bad! Half of the people who subscribed to my newsletter are not even awair of the change, they just think I stopped sending them stuff !
Is there a way I can notify them and ask them to pull me over to the right side???


The new gmail filters are horrible. They’ve been filtering emails from my credit card companies and other monthly bill reminders into Promotional emails so I’ve been missing them. Silly me thought Promotional emails were typically junk and certainly not some of the most important emails I cannot do without.


    Maybe you could put a class action suit together.


Google keeps eroding away at my trust. This is the last straw, I’m done with Google. Its a real a shame, they started out well, but are now just looking more and more evil. Attempting to control my inbox and subject me to ads is not acceptable.



    I applaud you Roger. Google needs to be put in their place. They have too much control over the world market. Does anyone think they will not abuse it?


My first reaction was a knee jerked hatred but then once it sinked in, it made sense as consumer and as a email marketers as well. Hopefully it will bring discipline and attention towards promotional emails.


    Makes sense to some, does not to many.
    (my reaction was the opposite, it took a while for the distrust to sink in)


I hated it at first because I have to click on so many different tabs to “clear” my e-mails all day. But it grew on me after a week. I kind of like it now. I used to always get excited every time I went to my inbox and spotted new messages waiting. Then they’d turn out to be spam or bacn, which is a real downer. Now I just look at my Primary tab to spot new messages so I don’t get excited for nothing. 😛


Very helpful Gmail In-box tips. Thanks.


Actually, I find I look through more promotions, because they are now grouped into one area. I usually take a look at them all during lunch..instead of feeling annoyed that my phone is beeping all day with promotions…

Niko Vittaniemi

Hey Derek,

Thanks for this tip! I instantly went and made a tutorial about changing the setting for business owners for my own language. Keep up the good work this was really something to notice about! 🙂


I’m not pleased at all. I had setup my own structure and my own filters and this messed me ll up.

I simply turned it off (option 1) and went right back to where I started – in control of my own email.

Aaron Andersen

Mr. Halpern, I know you’re going to trash this comment like you did when I brought this up before, but why the hell are you stirring the pot? This change is opt-in, and it’s easy to change back to the default. As a marketer, I understand why you don’t like it. But to suggest that this is somehow an infringement on the rights of the users themselves? That’s bullshit and you know it.


    I hear why you think it may be stirring the pot, but there are real concerns.

    First of all, it may be opt-in, but believe it or not, I know plenty of people who can’t figure out how to opt-out of simple changes like this because those people aren’t computer savvy at all. That means all those people may be missing your email that they opted in to receive because they don’t know how to set their settings.

    Furthermore, someone may not opt back to the old format for other reasons which have nothing to do with your email list. That means they’ll be choosing not to see your emails by default simply for some other incidental reason. Then, if they forget to check the promotional tab, say bye bye to your emails.

Joanna Benz

I see this action as a HUGE violation of trust and privacy.

Yes, GMail has every right to try out a new system — if it’s optional. But, in my opinion, it is absolutely imperative that they give us an easy switch so we can opt out of the change !!!!!

    Aaron Andersen

    For one thing, I had to choose to switch to the new tabbed layout before it happened. So at least for now, you have to opt in to see these changes.

    Then, if you don’t like it (I didn’t), there IS a very easy way to switch back, and there has been from the beginning. Mr. Halpern didn’t mention it, though.

    Go up the gear in the upper right corner of the Gmail window, choose “Settings.” Then, in the settings screen, look for the “Inbox” tab. Under that tab, you will see a dropdown to choose whichever inbox format you prefer.

Deanna West Piercy

As a user, I love the new system. When I’m in a hurry I can just check the primary box. I’ve had a few things end up in the promotional box that I prefer to have in primary or social but it’s easy enough to fix. Having said that, I do see why it’s a problem for marketers. I will be sharing information regarding this change on my blogs and in my newsletter.


Yah, I just wonder why there is for social and promotion tabs, how can they do that inorder to know and organize the following subject of email into your inbox? It really pissed me off at the first i’m looking my email messages for the first time only they organized on tabs, there’s just controlling all the way even our own private inbox, but we can’t push through because it’s just free mail provided by big G.


It’s a way of Google (gmail) being one step above Facebook (social media).

Katharine Trauger

Never did like google in the first place. So, what’s new?


You can also just STAR your important emails. And it puts it in the PRIMARY folder.

And Gmail is “smart” in that it does put emails you engage with in the primary spot.

I used the new feature for a few week. I has it’s pro’s but it’s not for everyone.
However, I did disable it after using it for a few weeks.


As someone else mentioned, gmail is a free service, so they should be allowed to do what they want. And that’s why I almost never use free online services. I’ve had my own domain/hosting service for almost fifteen years even just for personal (i.e., non-business) email just to avoid using these kinds of email and other services. I refuse to use googledocs, googlecalendar, etc. I use a gmail account only in instances where I have no other choice. I don’t like not having control of my stuff. I even started with a privately hosted autoresponder; I switched to AWeber only because of the limitations of email sending that most web hosting services have.

i agree with those who say that this latest gmail filtering is probably just to increase google’s advertizing revenue – if it wasn’t then why didn’t they just give the option of this filtering instead of making it the default?


Oh.My.God. Does Google realise it is not GOD?

I already have enough inboxes to check, now they’ve trebled it.

With the demise of Google Reader (sniff) and the keyword tool, they’d best not be monkeying around with anything else I love!


I first thought what the bleep and then realized the promotions are the best part of my gmailbox. Perry Marshall, you and a couple of others I’ve been learning from. So, it didn’t really harm me, but still I can feel your pain.

Mary Austin

It didn’t take me but a few seconds to disable the tabs and its not that I am not willing to incorporate new changes. I just don’t believe the changes benefit me at all so I went back to the original mailbox configuration. I would be willing to guess that most people did the same. Thanks for this post.


As much as I agree with how harmful this will be, I saw the writing on the wall a while ago. E-mail marketing is no longer fun for most consumers. E-mail inboxes are a trigger for big time anxiety and overwhelm, and as marketers we need to take responsibility for the fact that we have contributed to this overwhelm. These changes are based on consumer feeback, not just Google trying to b****slap Facebook and make a buck (although that’s a huge part of it.)

Everyone and their dog has an e-zine now. And a high percentage of them are great. The fact is, email marketing used to be an intimate dinner party among friends, and now it’s a screaming stadium arena.

It’s time to stop beating the email marketing drum and catch the next wave at the beginning. I believe mobile apps are where it’s at, which is why my coaching business has one. Sure, I still do my e-zine, but I don’t expect my list to give me priority over all the other lists they are on, even though my content is thoughtful, helpful, and consistent.

The content isn’t the problem; the method of delivery is played out.

    Aaron Andersen


Dahna Chandler

I find the change annoying so thank you for helping us circumvent it. I don’t like Google deciding for me what’s valid email and what isn’t. I’ll mark “spam” “spam” myself. I don’t want to miss emails (like yours) or have clients miss ours because Google is trying to force me to buy ads, which nobody wants to pay attention to anyway. But, like I told our email service provider, no point whining; roll with the punches. When the service provider is in control of a free service, they are going to make changes that benefit them. Figure out how to make them work in your favor.


I HATE it and I’m pissed. I use multiple devices to respond and work because I am in the field more than at home during the day, and its impossible to keep it consistent. I think I have a good stopping place and its all clustered again and out of order because my iphone and ipad are different than the web. Its a headache and I am angry they are wasting my time even sorting it out.
Now, I also have a client base that is not tech savy. This is going to hurt my reach big time.


UM… I have a mind of my own. I don’t need Gmail or any other service — unless I sign up MYSELF — to “organize” for me! If I want to have 10,000 e-mails in ONE “box” and shift through them on my own, that’s MY decision. What they should have done was set up the new system, sent out an e-mail ANNOUNCING it, and then ALLOWED YOU TO OPT-IN IF YOU WANTED IN!!!!! I have to have people opt-in to my newsletter. Why can Gmail force us into something they don’t even know if we want. Yeah, they provide a free e-mail service for us but it doesn’t mean they get to control our content!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are many other free e-mail services that don’t control your content — probably the reason they give you the option to revert back… However, had they simply given us the option to OPT-IN, then they wouldn’t have disgruntled people yelling at them on FB and wherever else they can complain about them. I’m sure they will “survive” this faux pas but I’m sure people slinging mud and BS at them because they’re angry isn’t going to help them in the present. It’s like Big Brother stepped in and made the decision for us. We have enough of Big Brother elsewhere (government, church) telling us what to do. Now our e-mail isn’t even safe from Big Brother butting into our business…


Well unlike many on this forum, I absolutely LOVE the new changes that google has bestowed upon. It has greatly improved my email management and I feel as though I picked up a FREE HOUR every work day.

SIMPLY BRILLIANT! Maybe it’s because I took the time initially and with routine updates to exploit gmail and many of the google products. I use many of their tools and profit handsomely. Try it, you’ll like it!

Google is king for a very good reason. Stay with them and enjoy the ride!

Marie Heiland

Thank you thank you thank you….the new changes are terrible.
They totally shouldn’t be able to make drastic changes like that.
Good post!


Thanks Derek for affirming my disappointing experience on issues of gmails, and obviously, there are more who had the same bad sentiments over the issue. I should be personally take care of all my mail issues.

Thanks for your tips these would help.


Thanks for the heads up Derek – great article!


The tabs have been proving invaluable to me. I’m keeping them, not worrying about it and moving on. Everyone has options. Complaining about the change doesn’t change what Gmail’s done. When I begin my marketing campaign, I’ll follow the leads from those in my circles to see how we deal with it. Simple as that.

Joanne Munro

Personally I’ve not had one problem or issue with the new Gmail features. They may have rolled them out to you this week but I’ve been using them for quite a while and they’re pretty obvious, clear, work well, and are also efficient.

What was the problem again?


If people value your content they will always open it. Email addresses that are starred as important end up in the primary tab!

Even if your emails is landing in the promotions tab, your emails will land among fewer contemporaries. This means less chance of mass-deletion. It also means a higher chance of grabbing attention when the subscriber is ready to read through them.


you know what is really annoying… every single list i am subscribed to is emailing me to drag their emails to my primary folder #annoyed

Kiersten Van Wyhe

I couldn’t find the little ‘x’ to delete the other tabs, but I clicked “configure inbox” on the settings/tools icon in the top right and I was able to uncheck the boxes and return to all primary inbox sorting, so that was helpful. Thank you for the advice. However, I do not think this is cause for as much concern/panic as your article seems to express. people like myself would still check the promotion column (but I prefer disabling it).


I HATE it and disabled it immediately. How dare a stranger attempt to reorganize my mail for me.

Cassie Witt

I was actually excited to try out this new feature and “opted-in” when it showed up in my inbox. No, this is not done for you automatically…

However, I already use filters and a gmail plugin (Sanebox https://www.sanebox.com/signup/de5e864daa) to help me organize my email. So, when I installed it, it totally threw my system off. Suddenly some of the emails that I specifically want to read were thrown in the promotions or updates tab. Some of these are even business-specific emails. If I hadn’t dug into those new inboxes I would have missed them. My clients and business partners would have been disappointed to say the least!

Also, as a marketer, I do have to say that it’s a bit disturbing to have your emails suddenly go into a “promotions” filter when they didn’t before. I do feel like it takes a lot of control away from the user. Yes, you can, of course, drag and drop the emails into the correct tab, but how many will do that? This is something I will definitely keep my eye on for my own stats. If I see a drop in gmail opens then we will have to figure out a solution. I like the idea of writing a blog post and posting to social media with instructions…I may have to do that for my clients.

Great blog post, Derek!


Guess I got lucky because I don’t have the tabs [yet]. Maybe because I’m using a Google Apps account instead of regular Gmail.

Andrea Allen

Thanks for the heads up. Great write-up on why Google decided to make these changes…

John denley

I like the new tabs, I just think they have implemented them the wrong way around.
Firstly I think you should be able to create your own tabs out of your own labels, but secondly I think they could have created the tabs then the asked you do choose which emails should go in to those tabs…

Having said that I have quickly adjusted the way I read my emails now, and just have a quick look at social and promotions, and like your #2 above if there is anything in there that I actually think is more important that I want in my primary I just drag it there, I also “star” things I think need attention, and they just pop into primary anyway…

Kind of annoying that “priority” emails still exist, but never really worked properly either.

Personally, and this is something I designed years ago but never implemented, I wanted to rate each email, by the number of times you open it, the number of times you reply or email that email address and/or domain, then filter THOSE messages in a separate tab in some kind of “priority order”, but have the same emails in your inbox too (optionally)…

Its kind of annoying now that some of your social things are in priority and some are in social now, if you move a linked in message to priority, do all linked in messages now go in priority, cos I don’t want that happening!…. but maybe messages from certain people?!

Bonnie Fernandes

I LOVE Gmail’s tabs! They prevent me from missing stuff that I otherwise would have missed and make it easier for me to scan through all of my non-personal email very quickly each day. I think they are wonderful. And I don’t want to put most newsletters in my primary email box because I don’t want to lose track of my regular personal emails amidst the snowstorm of other emails.

The one thing I do miss is the option to show all the unread email at the top — that disappeared when they rolled out the tabs, so sometimes I have unread email that disappears further down the page.


Interesting. I have had categories turned off for a while now.
Concerned that my inbox got changed as the article describes, I checked.
Nope. All is normal. So, I guess there’s an option #3. Disable/hide categories, and you don’t have the problem either. 😉



From what I’ve seen thus far, I like the new Gmail format. However I did run into trouble when I was attempting to move an email message from promotional to a label I created. I read why the have labels instead of categories and I was not moved by their reasons. It is what it is. Google have to create new and maintain existing revenue stream just as we all should be doing…that being said visit my website professionaladvancementservices.com


I actually love the new inbox. As someone who has 100+ emails land in my inbox all day, it’s great that Google is helping me look at the promotional/shopping/sales emails when I want to.

While I do agree that it has a negative impact right now for websites/newsletters that I do subscribe to, but it’s taking a step in the right direction. ALSO, by dragging your e-mail to the “Forums” tab, I’m able to see any future e-mails right away on the top of my inbox when it used to be cluttered in my 100+ junk mail. So don’t you agree it’s actually better for your more tech savvy users?

A Laramey

Not a huge fan of the new look, but I hadn’t intended on disabling it. Of course I hadn’t thought about the impact on author/website newsletters etc. Hmm.


I really like the new update, i just want to be able to rename the tabs. It saves me a lot of time and guess what, i did not miss your email because of the update. It was right where i expected to find all my subscription emails, in the promotions tab.

David Petersen

I don’t understand the outrage. You are choosing to use Google’s service. A service that they provide you for free. Since you aren’t paying for it, what right do you have to complain, much less concern yourself with what Google might be doing with your mail.

If you truly want to manage your own mail without any interference, then move your business to a paid account elsewhere. Or, if you don’t want to pay for email service, then stand up your own server. You’ll be in full control!

Just stop complaining. You aren’t owed anything for free.

    Derek Halpern

    Way to not read what I wrote. I’m not outraged because I’m a Google user. I’m outraged because the changes Google made does not really affect their users — it affects small businesses. Small businesses who have no control over what email provider their customers and readers use.

    That said, notice how I’m not telling anyone that GMail is bad. It isn’t bad. I’m just pointing out the fact that, “Hey, if you still want my emails, here’s what you need to do.”

    Please read the article in full next time before commenting.

Gary Stockton

It makes the marketer have to work much harder to reach the consumer, but its commonly known spam is a bad thing, so I think Google has good intentions, they just don’t make it easy like you did with this article Derek. Gmail is probably one of the best things about the Internet, it’s pervasive and it’s free, if you want control then pay Microsoft for Office and install Outlook and setup your mail filters. That’s the thing about communism, you lose some of your choices, but the offerings are usually state funded.

Katie Goode

Thanks for posting this! I immediately deleted the tabs when I saw them because I don’t want to have to search multiple tabs to find out what emails I’ve received. (I noticed a slight dip in my open rate last week, but didn’t connect it until now…)

Bryan Klaus

* life not live

Bryan Klaus

What the f*%&? Google just became as invasive and as interruptive to my normal flow of live as the Communist Obama administration! Stay of of my personal choices Google! Ill decide how to sort mail for myself!

Mike C

Honestly we see this all the time, when companies stumble on “passive” ways of shuttling revenue towards their profit drivers. My guess is people will think it seems like an ok idea, but thy will get tired of having to filter their mail again and again. P.S. icloud mail ftw.
Cheers, Mike


Hi Derek,

I really needed to read this article. I actually had my Gmail opened and followed your instruction to remove those two new tabs.

I think it’s too confusing and not worth all the hassle.

Thanks a lot

Tom Hermans

The new features are great imho. Real, important emails in one box, updates in another, promotions, newsletters and other ‘vital for marketeeers’ crap in another, separated from the really important ones. I see why marketers dislike this…. 🙂

José Carlos Dias

These new GMail features may bug us for a few day, but after a while the things will become as they were…

Dereck Halpern and it’s Social Triggers are fantastic and it will remain as such even with these stupid mass ups.

But in any case I’ll share this information as much as I can!

Sam Helmy

They’re not that bad. It is something that we wanted a long time ago, the ability to organize folders. The only thing is that Gmail went in with some default options that upset people in their comfort zone. They will only need some time to adjust, and maybe change their filters.

More importantly, like you noted, the whole setup is optional and people who don’t like it can simply uncheck the tabs and everything will be back to normal. That leaves you choice, option, and freedom and therefore I cannot object to it.

Sheila Bergquist

Hate it! It is scary the way these companies are taking over areas that we are suppose to control. I don’t feel like anything is secret or sacred on the Internet anymore.

    Hans Koevoet

    Sheila c.s, pls realize you’re still in control. You can still change the configuration the way you like, and that isn’t hard to do.


This is really crazy. I lie the idea that the mail is being sorted out, but the way they executed it was just confusing. I miss the old gmail. Thanks for the tip!

Ann G.

Derek, Thank you so much for the heads up and the work around. Love your screenshots and explanations. Thanks!


I wasn’t happy about the changes. At first I didn’t think about the negative effect of my email newsletters going out. For me it was more of an issue of having one more (or two more) things to check, and that stressed me out.


actually i absolutly love gmail new tabs. i run a business and it actually helps me a lot. to have a clean primary inbox.


The word, subscriptions would have been a more positive tab than promotions. Thanks for letting me know how to change my tab settings.
I noticed the gmail change right away and it took a sec to locate my favorite emails from Derek.

On a positive note: once a found the tab and before I knew I could change it; I know who I subscribe to so, new emails meant I had emails from my favs. It wasn’t bad seeing all my favorite emails in one spot.


I LOVE the new Gmail features!! As a user I now save so much time checking only my primary emails!
I know it’s annoying for business owners. Because it means that they have to run more personal email campaigns, provide more value so that their subscribers choose to have them in the primary email box.
Gmail makes us improve our services and treat our customers better. Awesome!!!


I don’t use Gmail or Google for emails but our firm has 90+ clients that do who are mostly unaware of the changes and are not getting important emails from us. We are left to educate them on this issue….Crazy waste of our time… Thank you for providing the answers for us…very helpful


I thought it sucked that Google would categorize my emails at all. Who the Hell told them to? What arrogant idiots. Anyway, I just got rid of the tabs. Now it’s back to normal and I don’t have to jump through multiple tabs to see what emails I have. What a**holes!


The email changes have their pros and cons. With the fact that they can be disabled helps. Nevertheless, most users will have no idea that they can be disabled. If google hides the configurability, which I don’t know nor do I intend to find out, then I have a problem with that. Google should give the people the choice and make it well known.

The real problem I see is that big corporations are systematically taking control of the market. The goal of the big corporattion is to do that very thing. There is a problem with that. In 1776 we took power of the big land owners and king away and made it possible for the individual to prosper. No, becasuse of the nature of corporations, they are systematically taking it back. Now our new kings or big coporations. The politicians kowtow to the big banks corporations because no one can compete with their campaign contributions.

The real problem is that the general consensus of the business world is that people who are on top are really good and they are just successful because they are talented. On the other hand there is a phrase that is often used in the big business world to describe those very people. The phrase is “cut throat.” Take Steve Jobs for example. It is well known that the companies manufacturing their products had a serious problem, and still do, with workers commiting suicide because conditions were so bad. Steve Jobs didn’t care. He was cut throat.

If you think that submitting the market to these type of poeple is going to help you prosper, then I think you are in for a rude awakening. It got so bad in 1776 that people were willing to die in order to be free from these type of people. The same thing is happening at the Chinese manufactures. You’re next. If you can’t see that this is what America is destined for then you’re blind.

Esther Kiss

Good point about the mobile, D’nelle! 🙂 You totally cheered me up.


100% hate the new gmail tabs – so does everyone I have talked to. Thanks for pointing out they can be turned off!


Google, Let us manage our own inbox! I hate when ppl and company’s try to fix something that’s not broken. It 100% sucks. It took me about 1 minute to revert back to the standard inbox. Yes Derek, you are right too, people will miss your messages because of this stupid, sneaky, change to Gmail inbox.


Wow I thought the opposite. My reaction to Gmail Tabs was “Woo hoo! a TIME SAVER!” and it is!

I keep Primary for friends & bills, Promotions for Daily Deals etc. and Updates for awesome people like you, Marie Forleo, David Siteman Garland, Ramit, Seth Godin etc.

I’ve still been reading the emails from my fav online marketing peeps, and it’s even better because I can now give the emails the time they deserve, rather than getting lost in a sea of unimportant emails.

Gmail isn’t there to help email marketing campaigns, it’s there to help the consumer. Marketers should do posts on “How to Save Heaps of Time with Gmail Tabs” rather than outrage, torches & pitchforks.


    Totally agree, Rosieteapot! I finally have more control over my inbox and PEACE of mind! yay!!!


As a gmail user, I was dismayed. I don’t want to click between three tabs to get all the email I want. Because I opted in to nearly all of it. As a blogger, I agree, my email subscribers double opted-in for a reason. They want to get my new posts in their email. Why assume, Google, which email is less important to them than other email? Leave it to the user to set up their own folders and rules. What a PITA.


Ok, first of all people, Gmail didn’t make the change silently. I saw their announcement of potential changes probably 6 weeks ago and accepted the change early. Maybe you should subscribe to *their* newsletter.

Initially, I wasn’t fond of the change, but now I really like that I can keep visible categories, but able to manage the necessary life/work email and read the updates/promotion/forums later. Previously, I would get such a backlog that I eventually just deleted all those for the sake of organization. You’re almost guaranteed I’ll read/listen now. 🙂

Emily Chaffin

I find it pretty easy to use and it doesn’t really affect the way I check my e-mail, however, I am concerned how it will affect the e-mails we send to our clients. I mean, it’s not “spam”, so they should look there and not delete everything in there without checking. But, I can totally see people doing that! Thanks for this article!


I don’t know if Google thinks they’re being “helpful” but they were putting emails from my children’s school into “Promotions.” I don’t know what criteria they are using to determine where things go but this seems ridiculous to me. I disabled the tabs – I can manage my emails myself.


I like it as a user but I am concerned about the open rate I will have. This is something I will be monitoring and recommending my readers with a simple email possibly (wihtout html)

Google is definitely entitled to manage their inbox their way since no one pays for it. It has not become an entitlement that we should expect… I like my email in the cloud and for that reason I use them.

Esther Kiss

I called the Google tech support. I explained what the issue is and that our newsletters are getting lumped in together with 30% off type of offers from clothing stores.

They were very nice and helpful. The rep on the phone actually said that I was the first one he heard this type of complaint from and promised to follow up and call me back about this.

Maybe if you guys all contact them as well and explain why it’s not cool, they’ll provide a workaround for those of us who have been providing content via email for a while.

(The way I was able to get someone on the phone is because I have a Google Apps account for my email. You can sign up for one as well for a free trial for 30 days and you’ll get the phone number with your customer pin & they’ll talk to you.)


I dislike this feature because as a business owner, I’ve worked very hard to get the permission of my list to be in their PRIMARY inbox. From investing money to use an email provider that abides by spam laws, to investing time to provide an offer that gets an opt-in, I feel that it is very unfair for us to get bumped. Now we ALL need to educate our existing lists and HOPE they’ll take action too.


I like the change. I am always trying to make my inbox clean and uncluttered. Google is not trying to take over ‘my’ inbox, its their free system… Dereks tip is handy if you want to make sure you dont miss a newsletter and this only affects the user when using webmail, rather than imap.

When you build your business on someone elses platform, expect the unexpected

Dave Stern

Or you could just use a BETTER email system from a company that doesn’t sell your info and doesn’t screw around with UI all the time.

Fet rid of GOOGLE crap! Google’s evil and in bed with NЅА! Just avoid that evil company at all cost.


Thanks Derek, but I have been using this for months. Google has alerted people about this change months ago. This was optional for a very long time and right now they are pushing it out as a standard.
Now I like it. It helps me with my inbox. I still look at your newsletter and everyone else’s.
I would suggest people to do option number 2 first. It does take sometime to get use to, but in all it has really helped me organize my inbox.
There are many things that you can do with this new system and Lifehacker has a details view of it – http://lifehacker.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-gmails-new-super-co-511765933

As always with something new, it is a little bit buggy. It’s not perfect!


I have never been a fan of gmail and use it as a secondary account. Simple things are missing – like not being able to sort email by sender rather than date. Their new organization sucked so bad I couldn’t believe they did it. I went back to the old way, bad as it is, really fast! Did they even ASK anyone about this before they rolled it out?


    YES they did. Some like me even opted in to test it. That said, it cluttered up my inbox by ignoring my filters…


Thanks so much for this info. I hate the new tabs and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it. Now I can breath because I am not searching for relevant info that got buried in this new format. Wish they would just leave us alone!


I knew I didn’t want it when it first came out, I went back to the old version right away.
Thanks for sharing.

Hans Koevoet

Well, I actually *like* the tab system Gmail rolled out. After all, emails from blogs like Derek’s factually *are* promotional emails, so it is nice they now are labeled such. Primary emails are emails written for me personally or emails that I really need to read. And, unlike Derek’s, my Promotional box does hardly contain spam (Derek, if you really get so much spam, *that* is your problem and you need to take action on that). The system does have some disadvantages, sure, but it’s easy (for me at least) to repair them. So, thank you Gmail.

CJ Leonard

I agree that I dislike the Gmail change and it is (so far) not an improvement. Most annoying, my Inbox no longer shows the correct number of unread emails (it seems it only counts new email if it is going in the Primary grouping).


Personally, I don’t use it on my desktop but I’ve found it helpful on mobile. I want to get Social Triggers email, for example, but reading longer emails on mobile is a pain so I’m happy to put it on a different category in that context.

From an email marketing standpoint, as others have mentioned, this is going to make life a lot more challenging!


Google emails wind up under promotions.

Thanks for showing how to turn this off. I have my own way of sorting emails and I would rather do it myself.

Thanks for this post.

Heidi Thorne

My love/hate relationship with Google continues! Same for this Gmail debacle.

I can now more quickly get through my emails because I check the important Gmail tab first, social (just to delete the junk in it) but I always look at promotions. Who really cares about getting emails from Twitter or Facebook?

But the problem for email marketing is HUGE! I hope Google is putting their marketing in people’s Promotions tab and not Primary boxes. Let’s keep this fair.


I’m with Apple so they haven’t messed around with updates too much. The only thing I’m a little unhappy about is how Apple suddenly decides that any email I’ve deleted must mean its Junk and so future emails are immediately put into Junk, even though the email address is in my contacts and flagged as a Favourite. But then stuff I’m always deleting ’cause it is Junk never makes it there! I’m guessing each email service has some parts that suck!

Blair Glaser

You know from your psychology studies (and I from mine) that no one likes changes inflicted on them. Quite a negative social trigger, inciting feelings of powerless which quickly turn to anger, outrage.
To me, the service is free, and they can do what they want. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant, and there are always work-arounds as you so kindly pointed out.
When I am a paying customer and companies make changes (Netflix and Verizon are my favorite bad examples of this) I authorize myself to explore my feelings, test the changes to see if they are for the better, determine how much I need /want the service, and then make choices about staying a customer or not.

Chris Carpenter

I actually like the new tabs for my personal use.

It’s really cleaned up my inbox and I’ve set filters to sort messages into the 5 different tabs.

I can process my email much faster than before.

So I like the tabs on a personal level.

Not sure yet how I like them as an Internet Marketer though. I haven’t sent out any email promotions yet. Hopefully it won’t be that big of a deal and might even work out for the better.

Because now it might be easier to see our promotional emails if they are in their own tab and not mixed in with all of the other emails.

Time will tell.


I like the concept. And the new big capital letters they recently started look pretty on my phone. But I rarely read my email via the gmail site. I have it all forwarded to mac mail.

However, despite it being sometimes frustrating, Gmail is free. That means, they can do whatever they want. Like Facebook, Twitter and every other free site. At least they let us go back to the old way of doing things.


Horrible does not even begin to describe this. Sure, it is an easy fix, but personal email is meant for convenience. I guess they figure that are saving people time by offering this “convenience.” Seems more like a control mechanism from my perspective. My question is if Google sends you these kind of mails, I am sure they will appear in your inbox for quick viewing. Google is quickly becoming the next Skynet (the company from the terminator movies)…LOL.
From a business owner’s perspective, imagine the residual impact this could have on your company, providing that you never use Gmail for personal use. I just think this is purely unethical due to the fact that the awareness they made regarding this was very low key.


Wow, that’s a real bummer. Thanks for the heads up. Could be the reason my suscription list has reduced it’s effectiveness.

Terry Pappy


Thanks for this. Just another thing to look out for when we depend on other companies to fulfill our business strategy.

On form submit to sign up for my Confident Entrepreneur emails I added a link to this article for new subscribers (and thank you for writing this article – hope I drive you some good traffic! :-)) that way they have the opportunity to make the adjustments you suggest and still get my emails.

Thanks, Derek!

Terry Pappy


Thanks for this. Just another thing to look out for when we depend on other companies to fulfill our business strategy.

On form submit to sign up for my Confident Entrepreneur emails I added a link to this article for new subscribers (and thank you for writing this article – hope I drive you some good traffic! :-)) that way they have the opportunity to make the adjustments you suggest and still get my emails.

Thanks, Derek!

Tiffany Ogren

I love it. As someone whose personal inbox is a disaster area, the tabbed feature has helped me notice important one to one emails faster, and has even made me open more marketing emails, since I’m not glazing over them to get to personal ones. I love the little “new” tags on messages I hadn’t viewed yet. I actually see every email that I receive now. If Gmail was a paid product, then you should complain. Until then, suck it up, buttercups.

As an email marketer, tabs are much more challenging. However, we have noticed some emails that were previously being filtered into Junk by Gmail (not marked as spam by the recipient), now arrive in Promotions. There can be a good side. Just have to play the game.


I have to say, I actually like the filters. You can easily get things back into Primary as you outlined yourself and it does make it a bit more tidy. After you rearranged emails for a week to help the system learn (which did annoy me) I ended up finding it quite valuable.


Hi Derek,

I could have used your instructions last week! Luckily, I figured out how to get my email back to normal.

I DO NOT like the new Gmail filters. My main concern is spam. Google should focus on enhancing an internet user’s experience when they search the internet and stay out of my inbox!


Sorry my picture doesn’t pull up on these feeds, I’ve never figured out why that happens as my picture is on my Google+ page and on my Gmail. Oh well.

One thing that concerned me was that many of my marketing emails were being sent directly to Spam folders for some reason. I checked with a web developer and he said it was my server, not my email. I’m checking on how that affects my marketing.

As for Google, I’ll look into Microsoft 365 and see how it works. I need reliable email messages and I’ve noticed that some get deleted. It’s almost cost me some clients. Hopefully that will be resolved soon.

And Yahoo has it’s issues too. I had major problems with Yahoo handling the mailings I’d send through email as they refused to send perfectly legit emails or bogged down and got stuck. That led me to Gmail. Gmail has been the best so far for my business.

Good feedback on this thread. Lots of good insight and info.


Thanks for the article Derek! I definitely value your emails, and wouldn’t want to miss out.

Actually, maybe someone else already commented on this, but if you have your gmail sent to a client like outlook, or mail for mac, it doesn’t do any filtering. It just shows up in the inbox. So here’s hoping people on my email list use a client, or don’t have a gmail account.


Thank you so much for the tip. I will also be notifying recipients of emails for my club that my letters may end up in a different category!

Angel True

I was appalled when I saw these changes by GMail (just before I saw your first comment about it.)

I get that they’re trying to help users filter spam and other stuff… but it’s ironic (or planned rather) that anything from Google showed up in my primary inbox.

The part I find most confusing is how they can simultaneously have a model promoting people using ads then put any emails from them in a separate folder.

I can understand adding this as a feature you could turn on… but automatically by default?! That made no sense to me. I pay close attention to the emails I receive and filter them as I want. It’s offensive to have someone else determine what I want filtered and where.


Personally, I am enjoying the new features. It’s not like I’m never going to read through each tab, but with the volume of email I get it’s handy to have some general categorization in place based on factors I can’t proactively filter for.

Google did give notice of this change – I read about it before it happened, was one of the first to get it, and helped transition clients through it. All feedback from our users has been positive.

Again – just because my newsletters land in a different tab doesn’t mean I won’t read them. It means I’ll read them when I have time and focus to read newsletters. I’m better served that way rather than trying to pick client mail out of a general inbox.

So – It’s Google’s platform, they offer it for free (or paid if you’re a Google Apps customer), they gave advance notice, and they provided an intro guide for users the first time we interacted with the new interface. No real grounds for complaint there.

Lastly, I’ve noticed no decline in our open rates to Gmail addresses. This is being rolled out in stages, so we can’t pick an absolute date to measure, but open rates are within the norm over the last 3 weeks.

Much ado about nothing?

Now, if one wanted to continue to speculate about motives, one could also argue that a great way to generate traffic and blog comments is to create controversy around the new release of a popular software tool from a major company … 🙂


    haha! Great post, but loved the last paragraph, theRKF.


    Bingo! I haven’t had the change yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I get so much email, newsletters I’ve subscribed to just gets pushed down to the 2nd page of forgetfulness. Seriously. You miss a day or two and suddenly you’re behind by WEEKS! At least if its on a separate tab I can find it more easily.

    And last I checked, Google wasn’t Facebook, so if you’re advertising on FB about a Google change does Google really benefit?

    Much ado about nothing indeed. Bring it, Google!


Thanks for the post that says what I’m thinking! Even when I revert to Priority Inbox and my filters the “primary” tab still shows up. In the last week, I’ve missed multiple emails from clients and friends because of the new sorting tabs. I am still flipping back and forth between All Mail, Priority and checking SPAM which has turned a quick 30 minute task of reviewing email into an hour (+) game of hide and seek.


I actually was really excited when I saw the new “tabs”. It’s a way more user-friendly interface than sidebar folders and just as you described in this post, you can easily ensure safe delivery of content emails by setting controls.
It’s just like when email systems introduced spam folders eons ago, senders had to remind users to “allow” their content through the gate. This is no different.

I think it comes down to the fact that people don’t like change. After all, The Google is a company with the freedom to change whatever they want with their services as outlined in their terms, and us as users have agreed to it. It’s a free service and they, just like the rest of us, need to continually find ways to monetize these services.
If you don’t like it, go to Yahoo!, but really, who uses Yahoo…

People will adapt, it’s not the end of the world. 🙂


Filtering email into different folders is super old school. People have been doing that for eons. Google basically took take three random folder ideas and forced them on everyone. That’s not innovation. It’s just stupid.

I honestly don’t think it will affect email marketing in general at all. Legit marketers don’t need to worry about it. Google is however, giving a lot of people a good reason to host their email elsewhere.

I’m moving my company entirely to Microsoft 365. I was on the fence with Google Apps. This made my decision for me.

    Steve Clark

    Ah crap, sorry Christian. I got the wrong reply button. How does MS 365 deal with email? Require MX Record shift?

Steve Clark

Derek, et all,

It is MUCH worse than this. Gmail will delete some of your mail silently, *never* allowing it to arrive, not even spam foldered. I went out of my way to prove this to a geek who was horrified. If someone says “I sent it to your Gmail account” and it never appears, have them send the exact same message to a non-Gmail account. It will likely show up. Ouch!

Google is doing what is best for Google, to which I’ve since deleted my Gmail account(s) for many many reasons. So good luck marketers, Google giveth and taketh from your cash register.


    I can only believe this happened because the IP it was coming from was labeled as SPAMish.

    This is not something exclusive to Google. It is actually the main reason to use a list service like Aweber,etc. – they do all the hard work of keeping your emails whitelisted for deliverability.

      Steve Clark

      Unlikely, as we tried our test many times from his work account and his personal account from home. Different IP address, different email addresses. It was the Gmail recipient account saying delete silently. This was person to person communication, something few of us would ever use an Aweber like service.

      I had big problems with this, with friends not being able to reach my Gmail account – many times I could not send email to MYSELF from one account to another – silent delete.


        Sounds like you had a rouge filter set up to delete. I can see no reason why google would delete a mail just because. Even spam is stored (30 days)

    Steve Clark

    IMO, a wise move. Google required my MX records, Full Stop! That is Sacred Ground to me and something I’d never allow out of my control.

Catherine Monahan

I’m totally with you… I think it’s wrong and damaging to business and communications between you and a wide audience… To get placed in spam or promos is very distressing considering the amount of time, effort and thought that goes into email campaigns, blog posts and so on…. Should be undone if you ask me…

D'nelle Dowis

I have to say, that as an email marketer and a gmail user, I’m torn. On one hand, I agree with joe jiko – “there’s a time to give attention to “promotional emails” and it’s not all the time.”

I’m not just an email marketer, though. I do a lot of “hand holding”with my clients on how to do very basic stuff, like use Gmail, Facebook, etc.

For them, I can see how this would be helpful… but me, myself… I hate it that google is doing this “for” people. If one of my clients approached me to help with managing getting too many emails, I would help them to set up filters, labels, folders – whatever their preferred email application might be. But now, Google is doing that without the user having to be mindful about it… which is really a killer when it comes to the kind of user that I run into all the time… they won’t read the alert when Google gives it to them and they won’t notice that they’ve stopped getting emails from their subscriptions because they were likely overwhelmed with emails in the first place.

In the best case scenario, this becomes something that eventually works itself out… your readers remember that they haven’t heard from you in a while and go searching for you and find that tab where all your emails have been pushed.

I can only hope this is the case.

The good news, in my opinion, is that those tabs haven’t affected the way I get my email via *mobile* – they are all still coming through my inbox.

Since mobile is huge and only getting bigger, at least we have that going for us 🙂

    Sam Helmy

    Actually it does. I use Gmail on my Android phone and the tabs have been introduced there as well.

Todd Lohenry

It’s growing on me…


I tried the tabs, then worked without them, and then went back to them. They do help me manage my Inbox better, actually. I know that newsletters go to the Promotions tab, but with that understanding I know where they’re stored and where I can find them. It’s actually helped me manage my Inbox better and view important emails I was missing because I got so many newsletters, some of which are spam, from people that they buried client emails. That doesn’t happen now.

And I agree with Bree about Gmail is free. It’s their product and they can do what they do for whatever reason. I don’t know the ‘why’ behind the change, but look at Facebook. Facebook is free, it changes all the time and if people don’t like it leave there and go back to MySpace, Linked In or Google+. Gmail has the right to change it. And they did give us an opt out, so yes, it’s fair.


I’m not a fan. Thank you for showing me a way to remove it. I create my own labels and folders. I don’t need google to do it, so I have to do my work twice.


I HATE the new Gmail set-up. I’ve spent hours organizing my gmail emails so that it works for me and then they forced the new gmail format. I reverted back to the old gmail format. Wow for a company who seems to know what we want before we want it…they really screwed up with this one!


I think we should go for a protest against google to stop this shit 😀


Thanks Derek for the helpful hint!


I think we should go for a protest against google 😀


Hey Google, how about creating an inbox protected from UNWANTED SPAM!?


I used the tabs for a day before I noticed the exact same problem you describe here. I tried switching your emails over to my “primary” tab, but then realized I’d have to do this for EVERY DAMN NEWSLETTER I’d purposefully signed up for (i.e. not spam). Additionally, some “social”-marked messages weren’t social at all – comments left on my blog or updates it needed were sent to this tab, when I consider that a primary concern/goal.

So I got rid of all the tabs.

Despite all this frustration, yes, I think it’s completely fair for Gmail to change “our inboxes,” because the point is that it’s not my inbox, or any of ours. Gmail is their product. I use it for free. If I want full control over my inbox, I need to purchase or create a product that allows me to do what I want. You have to take this into account when signing up for free services, and I don’t think many people do, hence the (what I think is) misplaced anger.



Extremely helpful, thank you. I have undone the changes. You are in my primary. How do I ensure that my clients are seeing my mail and that it isn’t being weeded out?


Gigi Peterkin

Nice post, Derek. I am intrigued by your question “Is it okay for Google to do this?” (I’m paraphrasing). I don’t think that’s really up for debate. Google is offering a platform, and a powerful tool – for free to end-users. What does that mean to us as users? They are going to make changes to the platform that behoove their revenue stream, just like Fabcebook, Twitter, Instagram…well name a free platform and you get the idea. Is it annoying to wake up to changes? Absolutely. Is it my job as the end-user to be aware of changes and make the decisions that are right for my business? Yup. Does this mean more business for you and I tutoring others who are less aware but nonetheless need the information? You betcha…until the millennials take over the work force.


    I think Walter Williams calls that reasoning the “Broken window theory of economics”. Go down town and break windows and it will stimulate the economy by employing window repairmen and stimulate business for window factories and delivery services.

    I hope your comments were meant to be tongue-in-cheek. More work to get back to where we were because someone broke something -not really good for anyone.

John Breese


Thank you.

Once again Mother Google has imposed features no one asked for or for the most part, even want.

As someone who deals with small businesses, I actually want to see those “spammy” offers so that I can watch what’s going on.

Speaking of offers, as a chronic consumer of domains, I want to see the specials my registrar sends me.

I also expected to receive the LinkedIn group discussions I signed up for.

Definitely will be spreading this piece around.



Anthony Ricciardo

Thanks Derek! I am a huge fan of Google and their products/services. They are of course free and they integrate over any platform including my phone. However, I immediately did not like this new feature. I had the same initial thoughts and immediately I disabled it. It made no sense to me.
Thanks for articulating this issue and providing a solution.


For people who signed up for an @gmail account because it was ‘the thing to do’ and probably have never created a filter, this will be a blessing to their 3,000 unread emails inbox.

For people who signed up for an @gmail account because of the great tools it provides, this creates extra work.

Fortunately, Google lets you configure it either way.

I bet people complained about Google grouping email conversations when that god-send first arrived.

Now I have no idea how people could keep track of email before it.


    I had to hunt down how to disable the grouping of conversations. It can really screw up the flow of information when trying to read things in time order. An old method that does the same thing -better- is to allow sort by subject. Just click the subject header and there you go, unclick it and things are back in time order. I hated trying to find emails in the conversation pile.

Devani Freeman

I don’t have the new options but I also use the multiple inbox feature in my gmail. Perhaps that’s why?


    Same here, Devani. I never got switched over to this new “feature” since I have multiple inboxes and (nearly 200) filters setup. I think we are safe!


What I WISH Gmail would do is allow the inbox to be sorted by sender. They know this is something people want but refuse to do it. Instead they burden us with these wonky changes. Lame.


    You know, you could like… search for the email to “sort by sender”


      Yeah, but like, some other email programs, and like other programs in general since the 1990’s let you just click on the title block for sender and ALL senders are sorted in order. it’s really cool dude. All of sorted without having to search all of them one at a time.


Google seems to think that they’re the only ones who should be able to make money on the internets. Their attitude would be significantly less annoying if it wasn’t couched in sanctimony. Their business practices are often pretty reprehensible.

I haven’t even seen the new tabs for some reason, but thanks for the tip, Derek.


Google barely gets all of my emails out directly from me. Time and time again I’ll have people tell me they didn’t get my emails. There are already people on my list I KNOW won’t get half my emails and I have to call them every time I email them.

Google just gets stupider and stupider. They have become a big business for big business unfortunately. I remember back in the day when Google was cool because Yahoo was so cluttered that it was nice to have the simple Google results. Now Google has become the Yahoo. Google is losing touch.


Hey Derek, I’m on your mailing list and thanks for the directions for getting rid of those assinine tabs. I would have gotten around to it, but your directions helped.

This is typical Google BS. Don’t get me started. Actually, I had my gmail inbox set-up quite nicely. This is just like “them” changing the EKT and also Adwords.

I also believe Google created the promotions tab so they can treat online marketers (affiliates) like they do in G search and PPC. The promotions tab is maybe like some subtle form of IM “spam” folder.

But you’re right, at least they gave us the option of nuking the stupid tabs thing.

Thanks again…


Steve Webb

Very much disliked the new “feature”. Thanks for the tips to revert back.


I don’t like it at all. I’m thinking to change my default eMail account.


Honestly, I love the Gmail tabs. I get SO much email that I was drowning in it and missing all the good stuff I wanted. This way, it’s easier to find things and I know exactly where to look for what’s important. I find your emails and many others under “Promotions”–which is where I want them. I check all the tabs several times a day, so they’re not going to get lost, and the thing is, when I had the “better” Gmail inbox, they got lost a lot more often because I had to sift through everything to find what I wanted, and emails I wanted but hadn’t read yet would land in the Neverland of the next inbox page, to be completely forgotten. With the tabs, your emails and others like them–which I DO WANT (otherwise I unsubscribe)–that just doesn’t happen because there’s not much on the next page, if anything at all.

Maybe if you’re not as email savvy, this system is a problem. But for anyone who’s been unsubscribing from email lists just to keep their sanity thanks to email overload, it’s a dream come true. I think it’s of benefit, honestly, to anyone who is in email marketing just because your message isn’t lost in that morass of unread everything.

(Also? Gmail ASKED me if I wanted to set up tabs. I didn’t just wake up one morning and find it done for me. I don’t see a problem with that at all.)

Isaiah Jackson

I don’t like the idea of Google trying to take control of my inbox, I already have filters set up. I don’t need any additional help with filtering out who I want to hear from.

Isaiah J.

Jean Richer

I tried it when it first came out but within 24 hours I went back to the old (and better in my opinion) inbox. It made me have to check 3 inboxes instead. I prefer to manage my own inbox, thank you very much!!


Thank you! I unchecked the boxes the second I saw them because I am now conditioned to believe that anything Google tries to “improve” is probably bad news. So I got your email. And as always, I appreciate your content!


I think the idea isn’t a bad one, but it’s knowing what criteria determines if an email is ‘promotion’, ‘primary’,’social’, ‘Updates’ and ‘Forums’ – I have 5 tabs.
I guess that if the criteria can be set by ourselves, that’s fine and we’ll just have to keep reminding our subscribers.

Jeffrey Berthiaume

It’s funny that you just wrote this, because my wife and I were talking about this new functionality this weekend — and she was specifically trying to figure out how to teach Gmail to treat your emails as primary!

I’m already well organized in my emails — I’ve unsubscribed to the things I don’t need to read, and although I’m not at “email zero”, I’ve got it well under control. The tabular organization isn’t bad when paired with a mobile phone that gives you the entire (untabbed) view — so no matter what, emails do not get missed.

Esther Kiss

Thanks Derek! Great tips. Appreciate it.

By any chance, do you know how to get gmail to process “commercial” emails faster? When I send out my newsletter, I noticed on my test accounts that other email providers allow the subscribers to receive my emails almost immediately, while gmail takes sometimes a couple of hours to let it show in the inbox. It’s really not convenient when the info is time-sensitive (e.g. last minute reminder for webinars)


    Hey Esther.

    Are you sure this isn’t your emailing software lagging on the Gmail addresses?


      Esther Kiss

      No, I wouldn’t say I am sure, Ramsay. That’s what they’re telling me at 1SC though…

      I have my own regular email running on a Gmail base too (though Google Apps, but it’s masked as a firstname@mydomain) and that one gets delivered right away.

      To receive the same newsletter sent to my regular Gmail takes several hours.

      It’s a mystery – would love to solve it though!


I did not like it just showing up with no warning or opting in! I was using it, but had to click on all the separate tags. That’s silly. I just reverted because I have to check every piece of mail anyway, deal with it and file accordingly.

Ricardo Caicedo

The promotions category tab looks like a secondary spam filter! It has a negative effect on a lot of people’s newsletters.

joe jiko

you may be a bit biased on this. as a consumer (and power user), i prefer to separate my interests. google has done this for us with tabs that adequately label incoming mail. i no longer have to look through my inbox for labels from filters.. i can go straight to facebook/twitter messages when i get home or focus on the primary tab when i’m working or communicating in an important way that demands priority.

there’s a time to give attention to “promotional emails” and it’s not all the time.

while the new tabs may deprioritize emailers like you, they are helping email users to be more efficient, organized, and productive.


    I completely agree. As a consumer, I love the new filtering. And to top it off, I’m already a filters power user, probably have somewhere between 100-200 filters. But Google’s detection is picking up the slack when I get lazy. I’m loving it.


      I totally agree– as a user I LOVE the new tabs. They make my life so much easier. I don’t have to have my work day interrupted with an email from something I subscribe to. I can wait until I have uninterrupted time to sit down and look at them, which is only better for marketers since I’m not deleting everything automatically.


No I don’t like the new GMAIL inbox changes. I went in this morning and did your option #1 and deleted all my categories back to my regular inbox.

Thanks for your tips and advice!!!

Jill Saint Clair

My vote: Google this blows. I have all my filters set up just the way I want them and… I would really like to make my own decisions about MY email. Great post, Derek – will share.



THANK YOU!! The new Gmail filters have been driving me CRAZY! I didn’t realize it was such an easy fix. I really hope everyone takes the time to update their settings so they don’t miss out on future emails from you!

Thanks again,

Alicia Bostic

Craig W.

Indeed it’s a very stupid measure, especially for marketers. I’m glad that I don’t have too many gmail users on my email list 🙂


I’m guessing there was a blip in Google’s terms of service that gave them the “right” to pull stuff like this, but if they were going to be cool about it they’d at least let people choose what emails went where (and voluntarily signed up for newsletters would go into the main inbox). This reminds me of when FB changed how the newsfeed worked and suddenly you didn’t see all the posts from the things you had liked…. unless of course they bought an ad. This is the downside of free websites and services. That’s all I’ve got, not super eloquent.


I do not like it at all! They even deleted some of my old emails that I needed. Do yoy know how we can send a complaint to Goolge. They really need to stay out of my in box.!!!!


    Jan I am sure your emails are there somewhere unless they were in the trash folder. Check your archives. Thats most likely where they are. This may not apply to you but after an update read prompts very carefully.


    Hey Jan, I suppose you are using a free gmail service. Its at the mercy of google that we have an excellent email with immense space for free. Most of the changes google offers is in a wider interest of its users. Of course with any change there are always a few like Derek who are hurt.

    Google Employee


      Hey Darrel, let the changes in the “wider interest of” users be something they choose to opt into. When google resorts emails into new folders according to their own secret rules without asking -google is doing evil. Seriously crossed a line. My gmail account will soon be autoreplying my new email address.


Thank you so much for the work-around! I was not impressed with the filters at all — and like you, I think it’s a ploy to drive advertising dollars.


Derek thank you so much for alerting me to this new change over at GMail. Damn. I am really annoyed at the way Google is silently rolling out there latest and greatest changes. I will definitely be reverting to the traditional GMail. I would hate to miss even one of your emails or anyone else’s emails that I subscribe to. Thanks again!

Joe Cassandra

I’m sure they’re just testing it, but it is good to separate out what kind of emails you get. B/c everyone has that problem of inbox management and ppl won’t create their own folders, so Google’s trying to do that.

Time will tell if ppl like it!

You’re in my primary D 😀


    Speak for yourself, I (along with plenty of other people I know of) use filters and folders religiously in gmail.

    Maybe there should be an option for people like Joe here along the lines of “I don’t know how to manage my email with the basic options that have been available to us for years, please do it for me Google”

    That’s my 2-cents.


      I agree 100%. Very scary that anyone thinks its a good thing that Google decided to resort their email -and just did it without asking. Do we really have that many people who want someone else to make their decisions for them?

      It’s like 1950’s science fiction: “It’s a good thing Google thinks for us. We like it.” No wonder we have a government that can make light bulbs illegal, limit the size of our soft drinks, legislate federal rules for local school cafeterias, -and then push to legalize drugs.


    Yes Joe, I agree with you it is good to separate out what kind of emails we get. Thanks Derek, your post here is cool. keep posting for more excellent feed. 🙂


      I agree too. Gmail are just trying to help users be more efficient through this change. The algotithm is not perfect but it is definitely a step in the right direction and I am sure that it will get better.

      Personally I would like to see content such as yours and other blogs I subscribe to in a seperate tab so that my primary inbox is simply messages from the people I communicate with on a 1 to 1 basis.

      I agree that lumping it into “promotions” is not ideal as there are negative connotations to that term.


        I like the separation without having to create a new filter for every automated email that I receive. Before that change, I would miss real emails mixed in with all the automated emails. While we do subscribe to these newsletters to receive content, we want to read it when WE want, not when you send it. This allows us to click the promotions tab when we have time to read the desired content.

        I understand why an email marketer using automated emails wouldn’t like this change, but as a user, I love it. Makes managing my inbox so much easier. I wish Outlook had the same feature, so I wouldn’t have to create so many filters on my work email.

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