Gmail as a Google Inbox Replacement

As you may know Inbox by Gmail, the revolutionary email service launched by Google in 2014, will no longer be available starting from March, 2019. Many of us, myself included, loved Inbox and are now looking for a replacement.

While there are some very good email clients out there, I found myself using Gmail more and more and being surprised by how good it is now. In this post I’ll explore using Gmail as an Inbox replacement with a feature-by-feature comparison.

Inbox and Gmail have revolutionized the way we use email


One of my favorite Inbox features was the Trips tab, where I would see all my past and upcoming trips in a clean and easy to scan interface. This would not only list flights and train tickets, but hotel reservations in a unified timeline.

Trips in Inbox

Some of these features made their way to Gmail, but they are not as powerful (Google will not look across emails and unify all the info in one place, but you need to look at individual emails to get the info).

Here is an example of the trip summary you get at the top of the email that airlines send you as confirmation of a ticket purchase.

Trips in Gmail

This comes close to what Inbox had, but not quite. The best thing you can do to have everything in one place is to create a Gmail label for each one of your trips and put all your reservation emails in there for quick access while traveling.


This feature, originally introduced with Inbox, made the cut to the new Gmail redesign and is easily accessible both in Gmail’s web version and in the iOS/Android mobile apps. The snooze button is available both inside emails and the main inbox when you hover an email. After you snooze an email, it will disappear from your inbox and resurface at the time you decided.

Snooze in Gmail

Another cool thing, that even Inbox didn’t have, is a smart AI that resurfaces and highlights email that may need attention from you if you didn’t get to respond and they seem important.


Another great feature of Inbox were bundles, an easy way to group emails in your Inbox.

Bundles in Inbox

With bundles you could easily have Promos, Updates, and Social emails all in one tab, neatly organized. You could also define custom bundles and rules for emails to be included in that bundle.

There is no real replacement for this in the new Gmail. The thing that comes closest is Inbox Type that you can quickly access from the Gmail sidebar.

Gmail Inbox Types

There are 5 inbox types.

Default groups emails by type (similarly to Inbox bundles), but you can not define custom types like with bundles. When in this mode you can categorize emails in four 5 types: Primary, Social, Promotion, Updates, Forums. Moving emails around trains the AI to be smarted with emails that you will receive in the future. In your primary tab you will always have personal emails directly addressed to you by friends and colleagues and emails you star.

Gmail Default Inbox Types

Important First will give you just one tab and put at the top the emails from people you interact with the most and other important messages.

Gmail Important First Inbox Type

Unread First will put unread messages at the top of your inbox and everything else below.

Gmail Unread First Inbox Type

Starred First will put starred messages at the top of your inbox and everything else below.

Gmail Starred First Inbox Type

Priority Inbox is what I personally use. It has just one tab and will put important emails one group at the top, starred emails below that, and everything else below. This way you always see incoming important emails, star them if you need to take action and get to them later, while having your whole inbox under control.

Gmail Priority Inbox Type

Uncluttered interface

There is no way around it, Gmail feels more cluttered than Inbox did, especially if you are handling tons of emails. With Boxy Suite we worked hard to solve this problem by developing a minimal theme that makes Gmail cleaner and friendlier.

We are going to bring this to Gmail for everyone as Chrome extension, in the meanwhile you can try it out by starting free trial of Boxy Suite.

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