What is the Social Tab?
One of the features that Gmail offers to you is that it automatically organizes your emails by type into separate tabs. First introduced in 2013, this feature has been helpful for users who want to separate promotional and social emails, via the Promotions and Social tabs, respectively, from their more urgent and relevant conversations, which reside in the Primary tab.
The Social tab acts almost as a separate inbox that holds messages coming from social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For example, you may find emails about a friend commenting on your Facebook status or a colleague wanting to connect on LinkedIn. The tab may also hold messages from other services like online dating services and media-sharing websites.
If you've signed in to a social media service using your email, that service likely sends notifications to the given email as it's a way to keep you engaged in their platform. As a first step, users who want to stop these notifications should look into the settings page of each service to remove email notifications. This is the preferred way to reduce email clutter and overall traffic on the internet. However, it's not always that easy to do on certain platforms and blocking the email is the only option.
For one reason or another, many users have yet to adjust this setting, which leaves their inbox full of recurring email notifications from these social media services. Since most users already have mobile notifications coming from these apps, the email notifications are unwanted and simply take up space in your inbox.
How does Gmail know which emails belong to the Social tab?
According to Google, Gmail tabs use a "classification system that applies machine learning to determine where to put email based on a variety of signals." A few of these signals, to name a few, include the sender of the email, the type of content found in the email, and how other Gmail users have interacted with similar content. Among many other blocking signals, Gmail also likely keeps a list of commonly-used social media services that could be categorized as a Social email.
While Gmail tabs have made it easy for users to easily know which emails are important at a glance, the feature has also made it easier for users to delete unwanted social emails from their inbox. In this guide, we will explain the best way to delete all social emails in your Gmail account. We will also go over ways to selectively delete social emails based on sender and read status.
Why delete Social emails in Gmail?
There are several reasons why you may want to delete the emails that appear on your Social tab.
First, deleting the emails might be necessary if your inbox has reached its storage limit since Google only gives its users 15GB of free storage for their various services. If the user has reached their storage limit, it may prevent them from receiving new emails.
This has already become a problem for many users since the free storage is shared by both Google Drive and Google Photos. You can find how much storage you have left by visiting your account's Google One Storage page.
If removing files and photos in Google Drive and Google Photos is not an option, you can try to add more storage by deleting emails sent to your Gmail inbox. Since most emails in the social tab are notifications or status updates from third-party services, these emails can be deleted without the fear of losing any important correspondence or information.
Another reason you might want to delete social emails is that they often show up as unnecessary notifications in your inbox. Even if you're up-to-date with your important emails in the Primary tab, you'll still find a notification that shows you have hundreds of unread messages in Social.
Since you have the option to either mark these social messages as unread or delete them altogether, many users will simply prefer to take the second option, which we'll describe next.
Deleting Emails in the Social Tab
There are a few ways to delete emails in your social tab. In the following section, firstly, we'll discuss how to mass-delete all social emails from your inbox. Next, we'll explain how to delete only the read social emails from your inbox.
In case you would like to delete emails by service (i.e. only delete emails from Facebook), we'll show you the best way to filter and delete emails by their sender.
Lastly, we'll explain how to recover deleted emails in case you need to bring back an email you have deleted within the last 30 days.
Deleting All Emails in the Social Tab
If you would like to delete all social emails in Gmail, you can follow these steps:
- While in your Gmail inbox, navigate to the Social tab.
- Above your email list, click the drop-down arrow next to the Select icon. Click on the "All" option to select all emails in your Social tab.
- By default, Gmail will only select up to 50 email conversations. To select every social email (even those not shown on the current page), click on the option to select all conversations in Social.
- Once all conversations have been selected, click on the trash icon. It is a few icons to the right of the select/checkbox icon at the top of the email list.
- Gmail will confirm that you want to perform a bulk action. Click on OK to proceed with the deletion. If you have a lot of emails in this tab, it may take a couple minutes to delete all of them. For example, in my case I had 16,000+ emails and it took about 2 minutes.
Your Social tab should now be empty! All social emails have been moved to your Trash folder and will remain there for up to 30 days before they are permanently deleted.
Deleting All Read/Unread Emails in the Social Tab
Some users may only want to delete all social emails that they've already opened/read. Gmail makes it easy for users to filter conversations by status, which we can then use to only delete those emails.
Since the Gmail sorting algorithm can sometimes place important emails into the Social tab, removing only the read emails is a safer way to ensure that the user does not accidentally delete important emails.
Follow these steps to learn how to delete only your read or unread emails:
- In the Social tab in your Gmail inbox, click on the dropdown arrow next to the "Select" checkbox icon. Click on the "Read" option to select all read conversations in the Social tab.
- You should now have a selection of up to 50 conversations. To select all read social emails, even those not in the current page, click on the prompt to select all conversations in your Social tab. The prompt usually appears above your email list. Simply click on the blue text.
Once all conversations have been selected, click on the trash can icon to send these emails to the Trash folder.
Deleting All Emails from a Specific Sender
In some cases, maybe there's only one or two services that send social emails that you want deleted. For example, you may want to keep all LinkedIn conversations but delete all social emails from Instagram since those also come through as notifications on your phone.
Since there have been cases where Gmail mislabels important emails and places them in the Social tab, you might want to exercise caution by deleting social emails by a specific sender, thus avoiding deleting actual important emails.
Here's how you can do this in Gmail:
- Find the email of the service you would like to delete. This isn't always obvious since many services send emails from subdomains. Using the "from:" keyword in the search bar, filter your inbox for messages from this sender.
- Click on the dropdown menu next to the Select checkbox icon. Click on the "All" option to select all conversations from the specified sender.
- Again, you may need to click the text saying "Select all conversations that match this search". Once all conversations have been selected, click on the trash/delete icon found above the email list.
After deletion, the removed conversations will be placed in the Trash folder for 30 days before they are permanently deleted.
Recovering Deleted Social Emails in Gmail
By default, Gmail keeps deleted messages in the Trash folder for 30 days before they are permanently deleted. This way, if you have mistakenly deleted emails or would like to recover a particular email, you can restore them in a few clicks.
Here's how you can recover deleted emails in Gmail:
- In the left-hand panel, click on the Trash option. You may have to click on the "More" dropdown menu to make the Trash option visible.
- In the Trash folder, you'll be able to see all the emails that have been deleted in the past 30 days. Since you don't have the Social or Promotions tabs in the trash, you may need to add additional filters in the search bar to more easily sort through the Trash folder.
- Select all emails you would like to recover using the checkboxes on the left. If your selection has more than one page of results, be sure to click on the option "Select all conversations that match this search".
- Lastly, click on the "Move to Inbox" option to recover the selected emails. You may also find an option that asks you to specify which folder to move the selected emails to.
Removing the Social Category in Gmail
Users also have the option of removing the social category altogether. This will ensure that these social emails will appear in your Primary inbox and not in a separate tab.
This type of setup may be useful for people who prefer to go through a single inbox. The algorithm that sorts email into the Primary, Social, and Promotions categories can sometimes make mistakes, causing users to miss out on important email conversations. Removing the Social tab will guarantee that every email will appear in the Primary inbox.
Note: This will also make it more difficult to find social emails in your inbox, so make sure you understand the pros and cons of this action.
If you're interested in configuring your inbox in this way, just follow these steps:
- Look for the gear icon in the top-right corner of your Gmail inbox.
Click the "See all settings" link.
- Select the "Inbox" tab. In the "Categories" section, deselect the "Social" tab as well as any other tabs you want to remove.
- Scroll down this page and click the "Save Changes" button.
Your inbox should no longer have the Social tab. Emails that would have been organized in the Social tab will now appear in the Primary inbox.