How to pin starred emails at the top of the Gmail inbox and other great Gmail organization tips

If the default Gmail inbox doesn’t work well for you, Jack Wallen shows you how you can change that to pin starred images to the top or even take advantage of other available layouts.

Image: iStockPhoto

I don’t know about you, but lately, I’ve been having problems with Gmail. Out of nowhere, emails have come up missing, I’ve seen an inordinate amount of email getting tossed into the spam filter, and meeting invites just vanish.

That wouldn’t be such an ordeal if I didn’t depend on Gmail. And yet … here we are.

My time in Gmail needs to be efficient. I can’t spend minutes searching through the trove that is my Inbox. I need to be able to quickly locate the conversations I need so I can get on with the words at hand. Sometimes those emails are new; sometimes they’re old. Regardless of age, I need them on hand.

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That’s why, when I uncovered this really handy feature, I immediately started using it. The feature in question makes it so that all starred emails remain pinned at the top of your inbox. With this enabled, I’ve found my Gmail inbox much more efficient. The only caveat is if you have too many starred emails, you may find they get in your way of immediately catching anything new. A nice desktop alert can, of course, help you around that situation.

But how do you pin those starred emails to the top of your inbox? Believe it or not, it’s quite easy. Let me show you.

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What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need to make this work is a Google Workspaces account. There are no third-party plugins or apps to depend on for this feature.

How to enable pinned starred emails

Log into your Google Workspaces account and head over to Gmail. Once there, click on the gear icon near the top left corner. In the resulting Quick Settings menu, scroll down to the Inbox Type section (Figure A).

Figure A

The Inbox Type section of the Gmail Quick Settings popup.

From that popup, select Starred first and all of your starred emails will bubble up to the top of your inbox.

But wait, there’s more!

Google does offer you a bit more flexibility than this. If just having your starred email at the top doesn’t work for you, select Priority Inbox and then click Customize. In the resulting window (Figure B), you can set some interesting customizations for your inbox.

Figure B

Customizing the Priority Inbox to perfectly suit your needs.

Here you can opt to go with a single inbox (instead of the default “tabs”) and configure what sections you want to see in that setup. You can select from Important and Unread, Important, Unread, Starred or any one of your custom tags.

If that inbox doesn’t suit you, you might try the Multiple Inboxes option. This name is a bit deceiving, as what it actually does is allow you to manually add specific sections to your inbox. These sections are created in the same fashion you’d create search filters, such as is:starred, is:drafts, from:EMAIL (where EMAIL is a specific email address), subject:SUBJECT (where SUBJECT is the subject of an email), etc. One very neat trick you could use for this is to add a section at the top of the inbox that displays all email from the current day. To do that, add a section with in:inbox newer_than:1d. This will ensure you never miss any email that came in that day.

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In this customization window (Figure C), you can get very specific as to how you want your inbox displayed.

Figure C

Customizing the Multiple Inboxes option.

Or, if you just want to make sure all those starred emails remain at the top, just go with the Starred option, and you’ll be good to go.

No matter which Inbox you go with, Gmail has plenty of options to make your email experience a bit more efficient than the default.

Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How To Make Tech Work on YouTube for all the latest tech advice for business pros from Jack Wallen. 

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