Are you a Gmail user?

A Gmail Thumbs DownIf you haven’t already heard, Google has made another in its long list of wonderful changes (yes, I’m being sarcastic here) to the way they filter your emails, and they’ve done so without your permission.

Gmail is phasing in a new “tabbed inbox” system. You may have seen it already in your inbox if you use Gmail. If not, you’ll see it soon. It appeared on one of my accounts a few weeks ago, another just a couple of days ago and I expect the other accounts to follow suit very soon.

So What Have Google Done?

They’ve split your inbox into 5 separate tabs, labeling each “Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.”

The problem is…they’ve also decided that THEY, not YOU, will decide which of your emails go in to which tab.

What’s particularly offensive is that they’ve decided what emails will go into the “Promotions” tab along with whatever other shopping spam happens to hit your email that day.

What Does This Mean?

It means that a lot of emails you’ve asked to receive will end up under the tab marked Promotions, even if they’re QUALITY CONTENT and you’ve specifically asked to receive them.

As an example, I subscribe to some NASA email lists which provide news about their programs and ongoing space exploration efforts. There’s nothing spammy about these emails. There’s nothing promotional about these emails. These are educational, pure and simple.

So where does Google put them?

In the Promotions tab. The least relevant tab to the subject matter!

What Else Does This Mean?

It also means you may have missed some of the stuff I and other people have sent to you lately. Which I don’t like, and I hope… neither do you. That could be emails from friends & family, work, clients or customers. And there could be significant consequences to missing such emails.

So now, if you want to read all your emails, you have to look in up to 5 separate tabs. Because Google have made such a ham-fisted attempt at categorizing your emails, it will now take you longer to go through your inbox, so it costs you more time. And there’s a greater chance you’ll miss an important email.

And what about the emails you send to people. Maybe a query about a utility bill gets directed to the utility company’s Promotions tab and they just routinely delete anything there without ever reading it.

What if you’re informing friends and family that someone’s been in a accident or about a funeral and it gets redirected to the wrong tab? Someone’s going to miss some important information and there may be follow-on consequences to that.

Yes, these are extreme examples, but they illustrate the point. The person who should filter your email is YOU. You can NEVER trust a third party to make those decisions for you. And yet that’s exactly what Google have done.

Another in a long line of their bad business decisions over the last few years.

Google Google – not the benevolent company you think it is

Here’s What You Can Do To Fix This Immediately…

Note that the solutions outlined below will only affect your inbox. If you want people to receive emails you send, you’ll need to tell them to apply these solutions themselves or direct them to this post.

Ok, if you use Gmail, look at your account to see if the new “tabbed” inboxes have been turned on (you’ll see the new tabs across the top of your emails).

If so, here’s how to make sure you’re seeing what you’ve asked to see –

  • Click on the Promotions inbox tab.
  • Drag any emails from people you actually want to hear from and drop them onto the tab that says Primary. Then, when it asks if you want future emails to go into your Primary inbox, just click “yes”.

For the next few weeks, as Gmail phases in these new tabbed inboxes, be sure to check your Promotions inbox to make sure nothing else you really want is getting caught in it.

All making sense?

It’s just a pain that you have to spend your time doing this because of another of Google’s whims.

Another Solution

If you want to totally turn off the new tabbed inboxes (which I did as soon as I saw them and figured out how to get rid of them, because I don’t want anyone else “censoring” the email I’ve asked to receive), just click on the Settings “gear” image at the upper right corner of your inbox and select “Settings.” Click the “Inbox” tab and uncheck ALL of the categories except “Primary” then save your changes.

Now you have an inbox that suits your needs, not Google’s.

The Final Solution

Of course, you could just dump Gmail and use an email client like Outlook on your PC (or whatever the equivalents are on a Mac)!


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