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You Should Disable Your Gmail’s Promotional Tab

It will change your life.

Oren Cohen
Oren Cohen
Google Gmail inbox | If using photo in a business related blog/ article , I would be very appreciative if you would please credit in the caption or meta to "www.krstojevtic.com"
Photo by Krsto Jevtic / Unsplash

If there was one thing that always bothered me, it was the amount of promotional email I received daily. I had started to unsubscribe from most senders. It is still hard, though. On the one hand, it disables notifications for many emails which you otherwise would have deleted anyway. On the other hand, essential emails often get filtered into that folder, too.

And yet, even after realizing the potential of the promotions filter to help me stay sane, I decided to remove it from my inbox. I decided to allow my mailbox to receive all emails as equals (except emails about social networks. That filter is still up and not going anywhere, thank god).

Disabling the promotions tab was a surprisingly healthy decision. Here’s why.

I Didn’t Miss Important Emails

When I deleted the filter, suddenly I started receiving all of the emails that usually went there as notifications on my phone.

Granted, that was no fun, especially when a service was sending multiple emails every day.

But, among the spam, at least I received some critical emails that would have gone to the promotions tab otherwise. Was it the right choice? I was still not sure of it on Day one. I mostly thought I was losing my sanity to my iPhone’s notifications sound.

Now, over a few months of an inbox without a promotions tab (and way fewer subscriptions), I couldn’t be happier! I’m finally receiving less promotional emails, and I’m on top of everything that goes on in my inbox.

Hidden Subscriptions Made Themselves Known

Are you familiar with entering your promotions tab in search of that one email you know you should have received and can’t find it? Well, sometimes during that search you come across an email from a subscription you don’t remember signing up for, and you ignore it because you’re doing something else now, but deep in your head, you think, “what is that underwear promotional email? I don’t remember signing up for underwear that only models wear.”

Now, think about getting that email as a notification on your smartphone during a workday or when sitting with friends. How would that make you feel? I would have felt embarrassed. I immediately unsubscribed from many subscriptions as they arrived.

It’s easier to ignore when you don’t keep up with the emails in that folder. But when it doesn’t exist, and your sacred primary inbox is littered with cat food’s ads when you don’t have a cat, then you know it’s time for some unsubscribe clicks.

I Became Aware Of My Email Decisions

Did you know that a new Gmail address does not have a promotions tab? That tab was created to remove confusion when people sign up to so many promotions without realizing it. Disabling that tab allows you to look at the real state of your inbox and organize it better.

It is the most natural action in the world to enter your email address for some prize, right? Well, at that pivotal sign-up moment you don’t think of all the emails you’re going to receive and whether you want them or not. You want the prize that you’ll get soon. Well, if it’s a list I want to be on, and the content is not dull, and ads may be about things I will want to buy, I may decide to stay and consume it.

Let me clarify that last sentence: If you’re an author and you try to sell me your book in an email, that’s fine. When you send me an article full of affiliate links that will get you money but aren’t necessarily attractive to me — I will probably unsubscribe.

But, overall, I am now far more sensitive than I was and will turn down subscriptions that I don’t want to consume in my inbox.

How To Disable Your Promotions Tab On Gmail?

So, you’ve read what this simple change did for me, and you want to try it as well. Here’s a short guide to disabling your promotions tab on Gmail:

Screenshot from my Gmail.

Screenshot from my Gmail.

  1. Access your Gmail account at gmail.com, click on the wheel and then settings (click on All settings if you need to).
  2. Click on Inbox.
  3. Remove the checkmark from promotions.
  4. Click on Save Settings at the bottom of the screen and brace yourself for impact.

That is all you need to do to remove your promotions tab. If you’re serious about doing it — do it right now at this very moment. It will be tough at the beginning, but you won’t regret it.

Today, after a few months without the promotions tab, I believe it was the right choice. I unsubscribed from many emails that were clogging my inbox, and even though I still get promotions, at least I’m fully aware of it and take action. Some of them are also interesting to me. Those emails don’t only drown never to be seen. I already wrote about the benefits of cleaning your inbox. Disabling your promotions tab is the next step in that journey.

Good luck!