I must not be a typical email user in Google’s eyes. I don’t sign up for promotional spam, I don’t have a Facebook to bombard me with updates and I’m only on three (rather quiet) mailing lists. I’m also pretty good at keeping Inbox Zero after adopting “The Secret Weapon” method of GTD (blog post on that later).
So the new update to Gmail, introducing tabs like ‘Promotions’, ‘Social’ and so on is nothing but a nuisance to me. Particularly since Gmail seems to have adopted its own filtering system for these tabs, and those filters can get it wrong.
Anyone looking to switch off these tabs may have already discovered the “Configure Inbox” item in the settings menu. Unchecking some check boxes and these tabs are gone, right?
Only on the web version of Gmail, it seems. I still had emails flagged as “Promotion” appear in my Gmail for Android app.
To turn off the new tabs completely, you’ll also need to go to the settings for your email account in the Gmail app and uncheck the tabs you don’t want. This is applicable to the Gmail app on Android only. I can’t speak for other apps or OSs.
EDIT (26/8/13): I had trouble getting the Android category settings to ‘stick’. They reset themselves as soon as I exited the settings. There is a discussion thread here with better instructions on how to turn the categories off on Android.