How to show email on tabs in Gmail: The pros and cons

When you visit your Gmail inbox, does it look like one long disorganized list of email messages? Why not let Gmail automatically sort incoming emails onto tabs organized by their type? Sort your mail!

Gmail has had the ability to automatically categorize and sort emails in your inbox for some time, but if you have not yet explored this feature, you should try it. It can analyze emails and put them on tabs. The benefit is that it reduces the number of messages in your inbox to a more manageable number by putting less important emails out of the way on other tabs.

When all of the unimportant emails are removed from your inbox, you can more easily see the messages that are most important and deal with them more efficiently. When you have the time to spare, you can visit the other Gmail tabs and deal with the less important emails.

If you have already enabled this feature in your Gmail account, you may be irritated by the adverts that appear in your Gmail tabs. This is the downside of automatically sorting emails into tabs. You may just accept these adverts, but do you have to? Can you disable the ads? Maybe. Let’s see how they work.

Enable email tabs in Gmail

1 Gmail quick settings panel

Gmail display settings
Gmail quick settings panel

Open a web browser and go to your Gmail account at Click the gear icon in the top right corner of the page to open the Quick settings panel and then select Default at the top of the INBOX TYPE section. It is a little way down the panel, just below the colorful themes.

Click the Customize link below Default to show the options for the Default inbox type.

2 Choose the Gmail tabs

Select the Gmail tabs to show
Which tabs do you want to see in Gmail

Primary, the first tab in the list, is your main Gmail inbox and if no other tabs are enabled, every single email message is displayed on it. If you enable one or more of the other tabs, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums, they add extra tabs to the top of your email inbox.

Adding a tab is a bit like adding a filter to your inbox. Add the Social tab for example, and Gmail will move any emails that arrive in your inbox that look like they are about social media to the Social tab. Similarly, any emails that look to be about promotions, are moved from the inbox to the Promotions tab. The same with emails about updates and messages concerning forums.

Each tab you add moves a few emails out of the inbox, leaving it simpler and less full. Click Save and return to your inbox.

3 View emails on tabs in Gmail

Emails on tabs in Gmail
Email organized by subject into tabs in Gmail

To see important emails, select the Primary tab. To see less important emails, select one of the other tabs. In the screenshot is the Social tab for example, and there are emails from social websites like Meetup, YouTube, Quora and so on.

Many of them are newsletters or what’s new on the sites and so they are less important than work emails on the Primary tab.

The downside of using tabs in Gmail

Now that my email is organized by content type or sender into tabs, adverts began to appear shortly afterwards. When tabs were disabled and everything appeared in my inbox, there were no ads at all. Tabs are a great feature in Gmail, but it seems like you have to pay a price for using this advanced feature. You must deal with ads.

The ads are easy enough to delete and if you let the mouse hover over one, a Trash Bin icon appears on the right. Click it and the ad is deleted. Is it worth having ads for the convenience of using tabs? That choice is up to you and some people will accept them, but others will not like them. Disable the tabs to return to the ad-free single inbox.

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