Google Inbox

Inbox by Google is being retired next month and it’s finally time to switch to another email app. It’ll be harder to get another alternative that will work. If you’re still thinking of sticking around Google’s ecosystem, the option is left is to switch back to Google’s default email app, Gmail.

These tips will make the transition as smooth as possible:

Copy your reminders from Inbox

Reminders were a welcome feature for Inbox users and since the app is being killed off, they’ll die with the shutdown and you’ll need to export them one by one and get them a permanent home.

Head over to the Snoozed tab found in the Inbox main menu. Emails snoozed from Inbox will go over to Gmail. Reminders, however, will appear temporarily. If you set them off of Inbox, they’ll appear as easily overlooked notifications. If you set them within the app, they even won’t appear at all. It’s a mess.

Here’s where Google Calendar comes through for that seamless transition. You’ll have to manually copy pending reminders one by one and then pasting them on Google Calendar. Name them “Reminder” and colour code them a specific colour to help with the switch. Delete them once you’re done.

Apps like Google Tasks can do the same thing but their lack of integration to your inbox is a huge bummer.

IFTTT can help too. You can create your own by clicking New Applet right after My Applets. This method will allow you to connect the reminders you created on Google Calendar to your Inbox so that they appear there.

Once this is done, create a filter on Gmail and label them to see them all in one place.

Gmail settings > Filters and Blocked Addresses> create new filter

Click on that and type your email address then type “Reminder” into the subject field. Click continue then check to Apply the label followed by new label as To do or Task at hand. When the label name is in place, click the Create filter button. Find a new label in Gmail’s left-hand panel by hovering your mouse over it and click the three line menu button that appears on the right. Select label colour and change the colour to a yellow a la post-it notes.

This will ensure that every time you create a new calendar event that starts with Reminder, you’ll get an alert. If one pops up and you’re not ready to deal with it, you can snooze it as Gmail has that snoozing command built in.

To edit reminders, get the Rename Email Chrome extension. The extension adds a simple button to Gmail’s toolbar that allows you to change the subject line of any item in your inbox.

Simple Gmail Notes

If you want to create notes for your reminders, you’ll have to use the Simple Gmail Notes extension. It works by adding a small box on top of every thread in your inbox but not accessible via mobile. For that, you’ll have to get the Gmail Notes extension that will allow you to see the notes but not edit them. Simple Gmail Notes is an extension that will work better for you than its competitor.

Export your saved articles

Another feature beloved by Inbox users was the ability to save articles. It was handy as the articles could be read or snoozed for later. Gmail doesn’t have this feature so all your saved articles will be gone for good after Inbox is finally retired.

Head over to the Saved section within Inbox’s main menu and open every article that you still want to read. There’s other alternative article saving apps/extensions like Pocket or you could just save the links directly on Chrome.

Another alternative is Email This. It’s a tool that follows the Inbox function – it brings you the articles direct to your inbox. As an added advantage, the articles are nicely formatted and are saved in one place where there are easy to find. In terms of pricing, the service is free for 20 saves but there’s a premium option that charges $19 a year where you get bonus features such as the ability to add notes to saved articles and to create pdf off of the saved articles.

Customize your interface using Gmail’s tabbed inbox and keyboard shortcuts

The Gmail interface is not optimized for efficient productivity as Inbox was. There’s a lot of clutter that’s too distracting. Inbox’s trip bundling is coming but there’s no timeline set so you’ll have to tweak your interface.

To activate, hover around the Gmail Inbox section located on the left side panel, click the arrow and then select Default. The tabbed inbox supports five categories automatically to include Forums, Social, Primary, Promotions and Updates. You can disable tabs according to your preferences to get a hold of manageable inbox by scrolling through Inbox settings and unselect any section you don’t want and then tap on the save changes button. With Gmail, you can tell it where to put your emails by moving them if they get into the wrong category or just by creating filters.

Visual clutter can be removed by checking the No Marks option under the importance markers heading. Doing so will get rid of the yellow things that add no value in your inbox.

How to get keyboard shortcuts

  1. On the desktop, head over to Gmail’s settings, and select Advanced. Go to the Custom keyboard shortcuts label and click enable and then save the changes
  2. Once Gmail reloads, go to its settings and look for the newly added Keyboard shortcuts option at the top where you can add your own keyboard shortcuts like the ones you used with Inbox such as ESC for going exiting a thread list and going back to your previous screen and i for going to back to your main inbox view from anywhere.

Configure the Gmail Android app for efficiency

  1. Long pressing on any empty space while composing an email on the Gmail app can launch two options, the paste or the format option which lets you style any part of your email such as bold, italic or underlined text. You can change the font’s colour or background colour. You can also undo all the formatting with one single tap.
  2. Customise your swipe gestures: Go to the Gmail app settings, tap general settings then swipe actions. Here you can configure the gestures to get an easy way to snooze your messages from your inbox just like the Inbox app method Swipe gestures
  3. The promotions tab can get messy as your emails come in a non-chronological order. To get a more chronological order, go to the app’s settings, tap the address on your Google account then go to inbox categories and scroll to the bottom and uncheck the Enable Bundling of Top Email label. Gmail Promotions
  4. Another thing to disable is the Nudges feature. This is Gmail’s way of nudging you to respond to certain emails. It can be annoying at times. Go to the app’s settings, select your account and scroll down to the Reply and Follow up section and uncheck both options.
  5. The Gmail Android app already has a high priority only notification mode copied from Inbox so that’s a good thing. Gmail app settings > select your Google account> Notifications and select High Priority only. Google’s AI then does all the heavy lifting to figure out which incoming messages are actually important to you. Or you can just customize them yourself.

Bonus tip

If you are a frequent traveller ( I secretly wish I was CNN’s Richard Quest, LOL) and used Inbox to plan your travels, get Google Trips app( sorry, no desktop support) as Gmail doesn’t have this feature, yet. Even though it doesn’t exist in your inbox, the app will grab and compile info from your emails and collect them all into trip-based bundles. It will include suggestions of restaurants and attractions to check out too.


If this is too much, dump the whole Google ecosystem and switch to a third party alternative such as June. Here are other Gmail alternatives to try out.


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