Google has now announced a few key changes to how its multiple inboxes feature for Gmail work in the coming weeks. The tool will reportedly not only become more readily accessible to more users via some UI changes. Google is also making alterations to make managing emails easier, with one significant caveat.
The biggest change here may be that the multiple inboxes option for Gmail will be made more visible. As the website is currently configured, users need to navigate to the "Advanced" tab under "Settings" to turn it on. Google tucks that away at the bottom of that tabbed page as a toggle. For clarity, those are the settings users find under the gear icon at the top-right of the UI. Specifically, under that submenu's "Settings" option.
After the update, the feature will be found more appropriately under the "Inbox" tab in those settings. More directly, it will be found under the "Inbox type" option.
Secondary to that, Google is finally implementing a cross-inboxes toolbar. Right now, when a user loads up multiple inboxes, each panel has its own toolbar.
With a single toolbar for both, it will be much easier for Gmail users to manage emails received across opened inboxes at the same time. In effect, users will be able to delete, archive, adjust labels, mark as spam, and take any number of other available actions across the inboxes instead of individually.
Not all of the changes are going to be great for every user
The good news about the Gmail multiple inboxes features are tempered with at least one caveat though. Namely, Google plans to remove the preview pane options when multiple inboxes are enabled. That's the preview panel that's typically shown to the right of a selected email. Or, in the case of multiple inboxes, Gmail previously showed that below the selected email.
The point of preview panes is to give users an at-a-glance view of what a given email contains. It also provides a quick-access way to respond to emails via the embedded form. Since using multiple inboxes is all about productivity and previews can be too, there will likely be some blowback from customers who utilize those.
Users who have been using preview pan configurations will be warned via a message about the change. The options to configure them will simply become unavailable any time "multiple inboxes" is selected as the inbox type.
So when will Gmail multiple inboxes changes arrive and who's getting them?
The changes outlined above will begin rolling out on G Suite's Rapid Release domains as of February 20. That's primarily going to apply to select users in the Enterprise segment. However, a wider Scheduled Release domains launch will kick off on March 5th. These are both gradual rollouts. So, in both cases, Google is indicating there will be up to a 15-day period before every user sees the changes.
Conversely, this isn't just applying to G Suite users either. The company has indicated out that the multiple inboxes change will arrive for those users and to "users with personal Google Accounts."
So, unlike some other Google Voice-related changes made to Gmail, it's been confirmed that everybody should be able to get in on this particular update.