How to Show Unread Emails First in the Gmail App


Are you tired of scrolling through a cluttered Gmail inbox to find your unread messages? Sorting through a mix of read and unread emails can be time-consuming, especially when you’re looking for important messages that need your attention. In this video I’ll show you how to show unread emails first in the Gmail app, transforming your inbox into a streamlined, efficient communication hub. This simple trick will help you prioritize your emails and ensure you never miss an important message again.

Some of the images associated with the steps are included inline below. All images associated with these steps can be seen in the embedded YouTube video. Also, please note that you’re not able to leave a comment directly on this article. If you have a question or feedback, please leave it on the YouTube video.

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Steps to Show Unread Emails First in the Gmail App

  1. Open the Gmail app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. You’ll land on your Gmail home screen.
  2. Tap the menu icon at the top of the screen. Your main Gmail menu opens.
Tap the menu icon at the top of the screen.

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of this menu and then tap “Settings.”
Scroll down to the bottom of this menu and then tap "Settings."

  1. Scroll down to the Inbox section, and then tap “Inbox Type” in this section. The Inbox Type menu is displayed.
Scroll down to the Inbox section, and then tap "Inbox Type" in this section.

  1. Tap to place a check mark next to “Unread First,” and then tap “Done.”
Tap to place a check mark next to "Unread First," and then tap "Done."

Going forward you’ll now see unread messages first when you open your Gmail app.

Going forward you'll now see unread messages first when you open your Gmail app.

And again, to be clear, you’ll only see your read messages in addition to this after you’ve read all of your unread messages. If you want to temporarily see your read messages without reading all of your unread Gmail messages, you can tap to open the menu and then tap “Inbox.” You’ll now see both read and unread Gmail messages.

Reasons to Show Unread Emails First in the Gmail App

1. Efficiency and Productivity

Prioritizing unread Gmail emails helps users quickly identify new or pending tasks, streamlining workflow and increasing productivity. This method allows for an organized approach to email management, enabling individuals to address the most pressing matters first. By focusing on unread messages, users can systematically work through their inbox, ensuring that important emails are dealt with promptly. This strategy minimizes time spent sifting through already read or less urgent emails, optimizing the use of one’s time and resources.

2. Time Management

Dealing with unread emails first is an effective time management strategy for those inundated with a high volume of daily emails. It helps users quickly discern which messages require immediate attention and which can wait, allowing for better allocation of time and attention. This prioritization ensures that critical communications are not buried under less important ones, facilitating a more efficient daily routine and reducing the likelihood of time-sensitive emails being overlooked.

3. Reduces Clutter

Having unread Gmail emails at the forefront of the inbox significantly reduces visual and cognitive clutter. This organization method keeps the inbox looking cleaner and less overwhelming, making it easier for users to navigate and manage their emails. By concentrating on unread messages, users can avoid the distraction of revisiting emails that have already been addressed, maintaining a focus on completing new tasks and reducing the mental load associated with a cluttered email environment.

4. Ensures Prompt Responses

Showing unread emails first ensures that new communications are noticed and addressed in a timely manner. This is crucial for maintaining professional relationships and managing responsibilities that rely heavily on email correspondence. Prompt responses can be critical in business environments, where delays can impact project timelines, client satisfaction, and overall productivity. This approach helps maintain a high level of responsiveness, fostering positive communications and efficient handling of assignments.

5. Improves Organization

Focusing on unread Gmail emails first can significantly improve the overall organization of the inbox. It allows users to quickly deal with incoming messages and then categorize, label, or archive them as appropriate. This method supports a clean inbox strategy, where only the items requiring immediate attention are front and center. Over time, this approach can lead to better email habits, such as regular maintenance of the inbox and more effective use of Gmail’s organizational features, like labels and filters.

6. Customization and Personal Preference

The ability to show unread emails first caters to users who prefer a high degree of customization in their email management. It acknowledges that individuals have unique workflows and priorities, providing them with the flexibility to tailor their email experience to their specific needs. Whether for professional or personal use, this customization enhances user satisfaction and engagement with the app, making email management a more personalized and efficient process.

7. Helps in Tracking Important Communications

For users juggling Gmail emails from multiple sources, prioritizing unread messages helps in quickly spotting emails from key contacts or about critical issues. This approach is especially beneficial in professional settings where timely access to certain communications can influence decision-making, project management, and operational efficiency. It ensures that important emails are not lost in the shuffle, supporting better communication and collaboration.

8. Minimizes the Chance of Missing Out

In both personal and professional contexts, overlooking an important email can lead to missed opportunities, misunderstandings, or even financial loss. Prioritizing unread emails minimizes the risk of such oversights by keeping new and potentially important messages at the forefront of the user’s attention. This strategy is particularly valuable in fast-paced environments where the volume of incoming information is high and the cost of missing an email can be significant.

About Max

Max has nearly 20 years of experience working in IT across three different industries in project management and management capacities: publishing, telecommunications and healthcare. He holds the following degrees and certifications: BS Communications, MA Communications, MBA and Project Management Professional (PMP). His tutorial-focused YouTube channel earned more than 100,000 subscribers in its first four years, and currently has more than 160,000 subscribers, 110,000,000 video views and an insane 2.4 million hours of watch time. Max enjoys learning new technology, reading and collecting comic books, listening to audiobooks and playing video games.

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