6 Practical Ways to Use Gmail’s Multiple Inboxes Feature

Kayla Matthews 27-04-2018

Gmail is built to help people organize the mail they receive. You can set up filters that automatically take actions when emails arrive. It’s also possible to mark important messages as starred or create themed labels for them.


However, there’s another feature you may not know about yet: Gmail’s Multiple Inboxes.

When using it, you can view several inboxes as panes on your screen in Gmail’s default view. That approach can save you a few clicks to see what you need.

How to Set Up Multiple Inboxes in Gmail

First, open Gmail, click the cog icon on the top right and choose Configure Inbox. You need to turn off Google’s automatic tabbed inbox system.

Then, uncheck the boxes for Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. After you do that, save your changes.

Gmail Multiple Inboxes


Go to Settings from the cog menu and find the Labs link on the top of the screen. Anything appearing in Labs is officially an experimental feature.

Once you’re in Labs, scroll down to Multiple Inboxes and click the radio button for Enable.

Finally, go back up to the top of the Labs page and click Save Changes.

The next time you load the Settings page, you should notice there’s a new blue Multiple Inboxes link along the top. Click it to tweak things about Multiple Inboxes to make them work best for you. The system permits up to five inboxes.


Give each pane a label, and dictate what kind of content appears in it. For instance, you might want one that shows Drafts and another for Sent Mail. Any labeled messages can also show up in one of the Multiple Inboxes panes.

Within the settings for Multiple Inboxes, change the panes positions in relation to your main inbox, too. Finally, you can pick the number of messages shown on each page of a pane.

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

Now you know what the Multiple Inboxes feature does and how to set it up. Next, let’s explore some effective ways to use it.


1. Designate a Label for Each Step of Kanban

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

Kanban is a visual-based system that shows each task and how it fits into the overall workflow. People use Kanban boards to show tasks to do, plus where those responsibilities are in the process. Each task is a card that moves onto a different board as its status changes.

Consider making a Gmail label for each stage of a Kanban workflow The Best Kanban Chrome Extensions to Manage Your Projects Kanban is a project management tool to streamline your workflow and maximize your productivity. These Chrome extensions will help you implement it. Read More . You might have one that says New Projects, and another called Pending Approval. If your team sends notifications of completed work through Kanban, each team member can use certain keywords or phrases. Pay attention to those to learn how to make each label applicable and accurate.

Then, instead of looking through your main inbox for all messages related to Kanban, you can see the process flow in the Multiple Inbox panes. This method could save time by making it easier to find what you need. Furthermore, you’re less likely to lose track of messages associated with processes.


2. Create Labels for Departments or People

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

Perhaps you’re part of a large company and regularly communicate with various departments or people. In that case, create email address-based labels for each of them. You could make ones that say Accounting Department, Human Resources, and My Boss, for example.

Making emails from those people appear in dedicated panes reduces the chances you’ll overlook a message. You’ll also be more aware of when emails arrive. Then, you have more freedom to decide how to handle them and act accordingly.

3. See All Your Inboxes on One Screen

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

Like many people, you may sort Gmail inboxes How to Sort Your Gmail Inbox by Sender, Subject, and Label There's an essential secret to managing Gmail: learn how to sort your Gmail inbox with filters like subject, sender, and labels. Read More for several purposes. Maybe you have a work account and a personal one. However, it’s common to set up specialty addresses for various reasons. If your company is hosting a seminar and you’re handling event registrations, the address might be [company name]

You can create a “From:” label for each Gmail account. Doing that makes Multiple Inboxes show you the respective messages. Ordinarily, you must switch accounts by clicking your account icon in the right corner of Gmail. Then, choose an account from the drop-down menu.

Using Multiple Inboxes to show one inbox from another email address per pane saves time. It also prevents you from getting distracted 3 Quick Ways To Send Emails Without Getting Distracted By Your Inbox You try your best to stay on task, send your email, and get out, but an hour or two later you realize, you've been sucked in by the black hole of your email client. Read More and wondering whether you’ve checked an account yet.

4. Make Action-Based Labels

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

The internet is full of suggestions to help people reach Inbox Zero. One of them is to make labels beginning with the @ symbol and an action or status. You could have one that says @Awaiting reply, @Complete, or @Action.

For @Action folders, only add things that take longer than two minutes to complete and do shorter tasks right away. Otherwise, you risk clogging up your @Action folder with unnecessary stuff.

Using the @ symbol makes those labels appear at the start of the labels list. They’ll be immediately under Gmail’s standard labels on the left of your screen. However, using Multiple Inboxes means there’s no need to worry about the labels’ order. You can devote one pane to each of your most common actions. This method is excellent if visual evidence of work completed motivates you.

After getting things done, move those inbox messages to the proper action-specific labels doubling as Multiple Inboxes. Then, at the end of a day, look at all the emails in each one. Use the results as an overall gauge of your productivity, and think about ways to make improvements.

5. Give a Label Important Notification Emails

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

Many of today’s leading project management tools The Best Free vs. Paid Project Management Apps and Tools There are a variety of project management tools you can try. Let's take a detailed look at some of the free and paid choices. Read More notify users by email and within the programs’ interfaces. That system increases the chances of visibility, especially when people aren’t interacting with a program. It lets them stay in the loop even when they’re only using email.

First, think about all the programs you use that give those notification emails. Then, determine whether the messages are typically important enough to see. For example, some programs only provide weekly metrics about your usage, which you may not deem essential. In other cases, though, the applications alert you about everything happening in a program that applies to you.

Provided there are no more than five relevant programs sending notification emails, give each one a Multiple Inbox pane. Keep in mind, you can set up Gmail filters 10 Email Problems You Can Solve with Gmail Filters An overflowing inbox driving you crazy? Do you want to through your inbox faster than ever? Try some of these brilliant Gmail filters to see the difference. Read More that only send particular emails to a label.

With notifications from a credit card company, you might want updates about posted payments or credit score changes. However, you may not be as concerned about notification messages related to interest charges. Filters allow you to specify which emails get sent to the labels you make, and which get deleted or go elsewhere.

It’s useful to research whether a service you use includes keywords in its subject lines. Start by searching for all emails received from that company within Gmail. When you notice patterns in word usage, alter your filter so it recognizes those words. You can then make the filter behave the way you want. Here, that means emails with phrases that matter most to you go to the label corresponding to the Multiple Inboxes.

6. Set Up Priority-Level Inboxes

multiple inboxes feature gmail tips

It’s often difficult to figure out what to do and when while looking at an inbox. As a result, you may spend more time trying to decide than carrying out worthwhile actions. Creating Multiple Inboxes based on urgency level could help you make sense of your obligations Free Your Inbox: Easily & Automatically Prioritize Emails With These Free Tools Email has almost completely replaced snail mail communication. Now everyone is trying to get into your inbox. From family and friends to companies and advertisers, they all demand a piece of your attention. If you... Read More .

You could make a High-Priority inbox, followed by Medium-Priority and Low-Priority inboxes, as a starting point.

Also, if some priority-based messages relate to projects, you can state that within the label.

How Do You Organize Your Gmail Inbox?

After reading these suggestions, you probably think Multiple Inboxes is a feature worth using. It allows you to stop making unnecessary clicks and shows you essential messages based on labeling conventions. Do you use more than one computer at work? If so, you’ll especially appreciate how this Gmail capability lets you see messages from multiple sources.

After getting it set up, you’ll love how much information one strategically separated screen offers. If you find it’s hard to adjust, disabling the feature only requires one click, and you can turn it on again just as easily.

Did you enjoy these Gmail inbox organization tips? Find out how you can sort your emails on your iPhone The 6 Best iPhone Email Apps to Organize Your Inbox What is the best email app for iPhone? Here are the best iOS email clients to help you manage your inbox. Read More using intelligent email apps!

Related topics: Email Tips, Gmail, Google Inbox.

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