Understanding Gmail Inbox Types


This article will discuss

*Only Alumni and a subset of retirees have access to VT Gmail.




Available Inbox Types

There are several available inbox types within Gmail:

Each Inbox type has its own unique customizable settings for your needs and convenience.

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Default Inbox

With the Default Inbox type, you can choose which items you want to see first using preset configurations. This is beneficial as your messages will be automatically sorted based on their marked status. You also have the option to categorize emails into tabs, and you can move them between categories as you need. To organize email in your Default Inbox, you can:

The following configurations are options available for the Default Inbox type.

Important First

This setting allows you to have the emails marked as "Important" shown at the top of the list in your inbox. All other mail is shown after. Emails marked as important can be identified by the colored Arrow icon.

Marked as important

Unread First

This setting allows you to have the emails marked as "Unread" shown first followed by other email.

Starred First

This setting allows you to have the emails marked as "Starred" shown first followed by other email. Starred emails are identified by the colored Star icon.

Marked as starred

Tabbed Inbox

This setting allows you to move emails that may be less relevant, such as non-work-related emails like social media updates and promotions, out of your primary inbox, enabling you to focus on the important items. These other items will be categorized into tabs that appear at the top of your inbox, where you can quickly move between them. For example, if you turn on the Promotions tab, Gmail moves any existing promotional email from your inbox to the Promotions tab. Any new promotional messages go directly to this tab.

To enable these tabs

  1. Click on Settings

    Gmail settings icon

  2. Click on Inbox

    Gmail inbox tab

    • Primary - Email from people that you know and any other messages that won’t appear in other tabs.
    • Social - Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, and other social websites.
    • Promotions - Deals, offers, and other promotional email.
    • Updates - Notifications, such as confirmations, receipts, bills, and statements.
    • Forums - Messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists. Check the boxes for the tabs you with to enable.

      Inbox categories

A potential issue with the Default Inbox setting, and its associated configurations, is the potential to lose communications from improperly placed email items.

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Priority Inbox

This inbox type allows Gmail to sort and prioritize emails for you. Gmail uses a variety of signals to prioritize your incoming messages, such as who you receive frequent email from or chat with the most and keywords that appear frequently in messages. You can add additional categories to customize your inbox. By default, Priority inbox separates important email into 3 sections:

Priority Inbox can mistake an email as important or may not flag one that is important to you, potentially causing you to miss an email or to have to search for an expected email. You can correct this and “train” Gmail to make to make better selections by manually selecting or deselecting the Importance marker.

To mark a message as important, click the Importance marker next to the sender’s name represented by a right arrow. A colored marker means that a message has been marked as important. If a message is marked important by mistake, you may click the same icon to clear it.

Marked as important

Changing the importance marker moves the email to the correct section of your inbox. Over time, Priority inbox learns what you find important and incorporates the feedback you provide.

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Multiple Inboxes

The Multiple inboxes type allows you to create multiple sections with operators or custom labels. You can create up to 5 different inboxes.

This setting is useful if:

You may define your inbox with a filter using the Search query setting. For example, to create an inbox:

Before you can create inboxes to show mail for different accounts, you need to set up Gmail to the Send emails from a different address or alias Google support page.

If you create inboxes based on labels, you must add the correct label when you compose an email. This enables your email and the reply to automatically go to the correct inbox. For example, you could use these labels:

This option also carries the possibility of lost email due to excessive or incorrect categorization. It’s best that you are ensuring that you are tracking your labels and verifying that emails are being correctly placed.

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Managing Labels

To create a label

  1. In a web browser, log in to Virginia Tech Gmail.
  2. In the left menu pane, click Create new label.

    Create a new label

  3. In the pop-up that appears, enter the name of your label under Please enter a new label name:.

    New label name

  4. If you wish to have the label nested as a child label to an existing, or parent, label, select Nest label under:.

    Nest Label

  5. In the drop-down box, select the label you wish to use as the parent label.

    Parent Name

  6. Click Create.

    Create Button

To manage existing labels:

  1. In a web browser, log in to Virginia Tech Gmail.
  2. In the left menu pane, click Manage labels.

    Manage Labels

  3. In the window that appears, you may select which labels and categories you wish to show or hide.

    Show Hide Labels

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Setting your Inbox Type

  1. In a web browser, log in to Virginia Tech Gmail.
  2. Under your account picture and above the date of the first email message, click Settings, which is represented by a gear.

    Settings button

  3. From the drop-down list, click See all settings.

    See all settings

  4. To the right of General, click Inbox.

    Inbox Tab

  5. To the right of the Inbox type: setting, select the drop-down box and select the desired inbox type.

    Inbox Type

  6. Directly under the Inbox type: section, there will be settings unique to each inbox type that can be customized to your need.
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More Information

Google Workspace for Education

VT G Suite for Education Mail (Gmail) Information

Accessing Virginia Tech's Gmail in a Browser

Virginia Tech Email Services

Configuring a Client (such as Outlook) to Access VT G Suite for Education Mail (Gmail)

Checking VT Gmail through Secondary Applications

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