At last: a trick to viewing only Primary Unread Gmails

Getting to inbox zero with a little help from Gmail category search

By Jeff Forster, Senior Consultant at the Bayer Center

If you’re like me, Gmail’s tabbed sorting of messages has helped you prioritize your inbox. The Google robots do a pretty nifty job of sorting direct email that probably needs immediate action (Primary) from mass email that may be of interest but is less urgent (Social and Promotional). Up to now, you’re probably happy to admit you’re like me.

If, however, your email habits are really like mine, you probably keep it to yourself. By that, I mean, if unread messages in your inbox are supposed to prompt you to come back to something later but the system sometimes breaks down. And maybe you have a lot of email that’s marked “unread” in your Gmail inbox.

In that case, Gmail’s tabs can thwart attempts to view all of the top-priority unread messages in one view. Searching for unread mail shows you all the unread mail in your inbox, including those Social and Promotional ones that are less urgent. This makes it harder to work through the actionable email messages.

Let me share my joy in this handy tip to view only Primary Unread emails in Gmail. It’s not exactly intuitive, so I’m grateful to the author for spelling it out so clearly.  Read the full article about this feature on

Inbox zero, here we come!