Stop Gmail From Adding The Important Label To Your Email

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Gmail logoIf Gmail has been adding the 'Important' label to your emails and you would rather that didn't happen, here's how to stop it from happening.

Some months ago various new emails in my Gmail accounts started showing up with an 'Important' label (flag) attached to them. Since I don't use labels in my email I thought that was more than a little odd.
I use a third party email client to access all my email, and any email that Google labeled 'Iimportant', I would uncheck the label and the label would disappear for that email. Random new email would still arrive with the 'Important' label.

If you're experiencing the same thing, the following steps should stop Google from adding the 'Important' label to any email that Google decides is important.
Note that these changes can only be made using the Gmail web interface, not through a Gmail app or a third party email client. Changes made in the web interface will apply to any apps or third party email clients.

  • In a web browser, open Gmail (https://mail.google.com)
  • In the top right, click the gear icon and choose 'Settings
  • Click the 'Inbox' tab
  • In the 'Importance markers' section, select 'No markers'
  • At the bottom of the page, make sure to click 'Save Changes' or any changes you made won't be saved.

These steps should work whether you are using the Default or Priority Inbox type.
Since it's a system label, making these changes will remove the 'Important' label from use in Gmail.
You can easily create a new label to use in its place. Select an email, click on the label icon, select 'Create new', give your label a name, click 'Create' and your label will appear when you click the Label icon.

I went through these steps a some months ago and all was well until the last few weeks, when some emails started arriving with the 'Important' label again. If that happens, repeat these steps:

  • Log in to Gmail (https://mail.google.com) using a browser
  • Click the gear icon in the upper right
  • Choose 'Settings'
  • Click on the 'Inbox' tab

Make these two additional changes:

  • Under the 'Importance markers', check the button next to 'Don't use my past actions to predict which messages are important'
  • In the 'Filtered mail section' directly below the Importance markers, check the button next to 'Don't override filters'

Make sure to click the 'Save Changes" button at the bottom of the page
Or, you can also make these two extra changes from the beginning.

These steps should stop Google from assigning an 'Important' label to messages in your Gmail inbox.

You can find more Tech Treats here.

 

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Comments

Hello Rhiannon,
Yours is a voice of common sense on this topic. Thank you.
I'd already put in place the settings you recommend for the web version of Gmail, but Google in its busybody way still sees fit to label some of my messages as "important" in the Android version. I can't seem to find the settings to remove the 'important' label in android - can you advise?
Regards

That's odd, the setting is changed in your Gmail account settings so it shouldn't be showing up on any device you access Gmail from.
Are the labels showing up in other devices you use to access Gmail, like a desktop or laptop?

Hello Rhiannon

Thank you for your quick response. By the way, I had drafted a response to yours, but it disappeared as I was about to post it, and I’ve only just had a chance to try again.

To answer your question, I use two devices linked to my main device. The main device is an HP Pavilion Notebook running Windows 10 using the Brave browser. As mentioned, in Gmail on the Pavilion (Brave) I have disabled the “important” label. I tried to paste a screenshot below for you to have a look at in case I’ve got anything wrong, but it doesn't show. (Perhaps your site doesn't permit this?)

I have two devices linked to the HP notebook, an iPad (iOS v9.3.5) and a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone running Android 6.0.1. Both these devices show the “important” folder. When I looked at it on the iPad, it tried to load “more than 1000” messages, so I hurriedly closed it!

I’d appreciate any help you can give.

Our system doesn't allow posting of graphics here in the comments.

Have you checked (in a web browser) to make sure that your Gmail account Settings/Labels :"Important" is set to hide, and under Settings/Inbox "No markers" is checked in the Importance markers section and that under the Filtered mail section the "Don't override filters" is checked are still intact? In the categories, do you have anything other than Primary checked?

I ask because when I went to look at mine the setting under Importance markers had been changed so that the "Use my past actions to predict which messages are important" was checked when it had been unchecked for many months.If you use the Gmail web interface it's possible something got changed. I don't access gmail via their web interface often and haven't made changes to my account for a long time, so I'm not sure how the setting got changed. I access gmail via a third party email client on my desktop and via Blue Mail in Android so no I'm nowhere near the Settings.

At the top of Settings/Inbox, what type of Inbox do you have selected? I use Default. If you're using Priority, switch to Default and see if that makes a difference.

Don't forget to Save Changes at the bottom of the page (says the voice of experience).

You can also access the Settings/Labels area via the left side of the Gmail interface Inbox, under the More section, click on Manage labels and you'll get the same section as under Settings.

These settings can't be changed using the Gmail app, it has to be done via the web interface from a browser. I don't know if Brave browser would make a difference but you might want to access Gmail account settings via another browser to make sure they are the same in both. Stranger things have happened.

That's all I can think of at the moment, since the changes are made using a web browser and not the app they should apply across the board to your gmail account. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Why the labels aren't showing up in your Notebook and are showing in mobile is very strange. This is all I can think of at the moment.

This Google support article has more information but the thing that caught my eye is searching for messages marked Important and if there are any, changing the label. Just a thought.  ¯\_(シ)_/¯
https://support.google.com/mail/answer/186543?hl=en

Rhiannon, thank you for that comprehensive reply.

I've double checked the settings in Brave and in Chrome, and they are the same in both browsers - and as you specify:
"Important" set to hide
"No markers" checked
"Don't override filters" checked
Categories - only "Primary" checked
Type of inbox: "Default"
I couldn't save any changes because there were none!

So I'm baffled - and just the tiniest bit put out. I've also had another look at my phone and iPad, and every message in the inbox is also in the "Important" box, and a good few I thought were deleted or otherwise labelled. I like to keep my inbox as clean as possible (retaining only current items) and so either delete unwanted messages or label them.

I'll read the Google support article when I get a moment. In the meantime, I appreciate your efforts.
Regards

Why should anyone want to get rid of importance markers? It has really helped me, to keep my inbox organized.

I think it comes down to how you work. Gmail and it's labels/markers and interface work for many people.

Then there are those who like me don't use and don't care for any of the Gmail interface iterations.

I find it intrusive that Google randomly assigns markers/labels to my email.
I don't like that Google scans my email, decides which of my emails Google thinks is important enough to assign a marker to, decides what marker any given email needs to have assigned to it and sticks the marker on the email.
I don't use labels in my email and I don't want Google (or any other service) scanning and assigning markers or categories to my email.

All my mail (including Gmail) is IMAP and is routed through a fork of Thunderbird on my desktop or laptop, or through Blue Mail on Android. Most of my email isn't Gmail.
I could route my IMAP email accounts to work in Gmail but the interface doesn't work for me. 

I sort my mail using other criteria, though I can see how labels would be useful for others.
I get so much email that I need to move it in bulk sometimes to folders, and save attachments to my computer.

I like being able to select several emails from any of my accounts and be able to drag and drop them where they need to go in one shot.
I've never found the Gmail web interface or it's other iterations intuitive or easy to use. I'm used to a full featured stand alone POP3/IMAP email client so that's what I use. 

Lots of people like the Gmail interface, it's keyboard shortcuts, labels and other interface features. It's a personal preference. What works for me won't work for someone else, what works for someone else may not work for me, though if someone shares something that works for me I'm quick to adopt it into my system. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Along with my thank you for this, I'd like to add a big thanks to Gizmo's freeware for providing the forum to offer things like this up. If I were to label any mail announcements important, this would be on the top of my list. Thank you, Gizmo.

You're quite welcome. :)

Such a simple fix to an irritation. I use Thunderbird to watch a couple gmail accounts. what used to be a simple read and delete process, became more involved than I wanted. I had blamed Thunderbird. Thank you for doing the research and experimentation to find this.

I'm delighted you found it useful. :)
 

Thanks for that tip! I've always thought it strange with these "important" markers. I did the steps mentioned, and added the following - removing all important markers in all old mails. To do so (of course in the Gmail web interface):
1) Mark All mails.
2) In the tab "More" there is an option "Mark all as unimportant" (or similar - I don't have an English version).
3) Wait a while if you have many mails (I had 27,000+ and it took perhaps one minute to remove all markings.

Another tip: Use star markings to mark mails you want to look at later. Archive all other mails. (You can do that by using the options
1)"Mark all unstarred" and
2) Archive.
That way you inbox is relatively clean always. You can still search mails in your archived files (search All Mails), and you don't have to delete any mails you might need later. The limit to max Gmail space is usually remote, so don't use time deleting mails until you are approaching that limit.
PS. Did you know there are different "star" marks (different colors & symbols) - just repeat clicking on the star symbol of a mail.

Thank you for the extra tips! Great suggestions. :)

We'll see - same thing with Google Calendar, I don't use it, don't like it, it's intrusive to me.

They continue to populate my calendar for various of my addresses randomly, I can't figure out how to make this go away.

You might try going into the Settings in Google Calendar and seeing if there are any calendars listed under 'Setting for other calendars'. If there are any calendars listed, you can click on them, and click then click on 'Unsubcribe'.

I have two calendars listed there, seasons and holidays, but I added them manually. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thanks.

Anytime. :)

Yep out of the blue quite a bit of incoming email my Gmail accounts all of a sudden started appearing with Important labels on them, and I've never used labels.

If you make the changes outlined above through the Gmail web interface, they should be permanent - though I will add the Google's idea of permanent and my idea of permanent are probably different, and things can change without notice. The changes will extend to any app or emal client you use to access Gmail.

I made the changes that I suggest, and there were no labels for a few months...maybe 3 months? Then all of sudden the Important label appeared again. I went back into the settings and made the two additional changes I mention above, and I haven't had any more labels appearing, but, it's only been eight weeks or so since I made the change, so no telling how permanent it is.

A few people have suggested going to the IMAP folders and unchecking the Important label in any email program. That's one of the first things I did and it didn't stop Google from labeling the email and the label showing up. I use Postbox, which is based off Thunderbird's code so it may or may not work or you.
I right click the email account in hte left pane and choose Subscribe to view the folders, the labels will be found in a folder marked [Gmail] or [Google Mail]

Here's the criteria that Google uses to decide how to label your email:
Importance markers in Gmail - Gmail Help
Why Google thinks it's ok for them to slap labels on anyone's email, unasked and in many cases unwanted, and in such a way that you have to go through several steps to remove the label, is a whole 'nother discussion...:-O

Rhiannon,

This happened to me recently, they just marked everything important, I mean everything.

I had no idea I had that many emails in the "important" folder because all of a sudden my usage went up exponentially, that's when I discovered this setting, I deleted all of them in that folder, but it erased most of my inbox, as well. I don't keep that many as I file them immediately, but some out of the 25 or so were important.

My question: Is this a permanent setting?

I ask because I thought I had done this when I first discovered this, maybe I didn't check the "no marker" setting, I can't remember.

I use Thunderbird because after all these years I still hate dealing with the Gmail web interface.

Thank You.

I admit, I've never adjusted to the Gmail web interface either. I only use it when there's no other option (I've been using Gmail since it was first started and was by invitation only, so, a while).
It clashes with the way I like to work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Same, since invitation only.

I get maybe 400 work emails/day, and like you, doesn't align with my work process.

I think I have it under control now, been turned off in all my addresses.

Thanks.

I'm glad you're not getting any more labeled emails. :)