Gmail's format doesn't translate well to all cellphones | It's Geek to Me

Jeff Werner
Special to the Daily News

Q: First of all let me tell you that I really enjoy your column. I find it hard to believe you do not get paid for it. YOU SHOULD!!!! I didn't notice advertising on your website, either. Maybe some marketing would help you start getting paid!

I enjoy computers and tablets and smartphones. Even more, I (maybe like you) enjoy solving problems (my own and those of others). Many of my friends use me as a resource for finding answers to their technical issues they encounter.

So, it caught my eye in Issue 746 (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. No. 746, Nov. 13, 2021) when the last line mentioned when accessing Gmail on a phone, they only see promotional emails.

Recently a friend contacted me about this very issue. I am going to assume they have an iPhone using the Mail app that comes with the phone. As you know with Gmail, I think the default is to have three tabs on a computer with primary, promotional and social. I think Gmail labels these and then they get placed into these tabs.

Jeff Werner

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I don't like the tabs and remove them in settings. My friend however uses them and instead of unsubscribing from promotional emails allows them to pile up in his promotional tab on his computer.

Recently he was to take a trip and would only have his phone with him. I talked him through how to set up Gmail on his iPhone, but what is displayed in the mail app (according to him) is the PROMOTIONAL emails tab.

I suggested that on his computer that he deselect all tabs but primary but he didn't want to view the promotional and primary tabs together on his computer due to so many promotional emails.

I suggested to him that he download the Gmail app on his phone that I think allows you to see each tab separately, but he was reluctant to do that.

I then asked him to go into the Mailboxes section of iPhone Mail and choose All Mail instead of inbox. Now he is able to see his primary inbox emails mixed with his promotional email on his phone.

Not great but at least he can see new email that comes in that is not promotional.

So maybe if John P. from this issue of IGTM was able to view Gmail on his phone (not promotional emails) he might do what is needed and just switch to Gmail instead of AOL.

I hope this is not too much information, but I wanted to explain the issue in detail. It caught my eye that a reader had exactly the same problem my friend did with showing only promotional emails on his phone. Thank you for listening.

P.S. Uploading a screen shot for problems is GREAT. So many times, I can't solve a problem till I can see it myself. Usually, words don't describe what it is or where it is in the operating system.

— Gordon B., Fort Walton Beach

A: Well, thank YOU, Gordon, for writing such an information-packed and helpful “question” that is long enough to practically stand-in for the entire column this week. As I write this, it’s a couple of days before Christmas, and this old Geek could use a little break. Thanks for providing one.

I will admit that I was concentrating so hard on providing reader John P. information on how to get his AOL email going that I totally spaced Gmail’s tendency to segregate selected emails under separate tabs.

By default, it creates virtual tabs named “Social” and “Promotions.” I think it’s important to understand that these emails are technically still in the Inbox, and if you view your email using a mail client such as the built-in mail app on an iPhone, those extra tabs don’t appear.

But if you view Gmail using its native webmail interface, any messages that Gmail considers to be Social Media-related or promotional are segregated into these two virtual folders. The feature can be easily turned off by selecting Settings (the Gear icon) then choosing “Inbox.” Under “Categories” you’ll see not only the two we’ve been talking about, but two more named Updates and Forums. Unchecking these will cause all messages to appear in the main inbox.

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And that, dear readers, is my last column written in 2021. It’s Geek to Me will be back in 2022 to start its 15th year of bringing you technical information and answers to your computers and technology questions.

And yes, to-date I have earned exactly $0 writing this column. There have been no awards, nor accolades, nor “Best Column” submissions, and that’s OK. I do get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction by helping you to make more sense out of the ever-increasing technology that fills our modern lives.

Happy New Year my fellow Geeks!

To view additional content, comment on articles, or submit a question of your own, visit my website at ItsGeekToMe.co (not .com!)