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by Ray Carlson

Q: A confirmation for an order was sent to my Gmail account, but I did not see it. Why?

A: Google likes innovation. One change they have been gradually implementing is to divide email messages into categories. They set up five categories: Primary, Promotions, Social, Updates, and Forums. The Primary category normally appears when you open your account with tabs at the top of the page for the other categories. Primary covers personal messages and anything that does not fit another category.

Confirmations, receipts, and bills go to the Updates group. Messages from any social network or the like go into the Social category. Personalized special offers or deals go into Promotions while messages from mailing lists and discussion groups go into Forums. The tabs at the top of the page indicate how many new messages are in each category. If you have no messages in a category, that category will not appear. Click on any tab, and messages fitting that category appear.

Categorizing incoming messages is available in most email systems. Google decided to encourage trying that approach by doing it for us. Since they may put things in the wrong category, slide incorrectly categorized messages to the appropriate tab at the top, and, from that point on, messages from that source will be put in that other category. You can also revert to the old format by going to Settings and clicking on Inbox. This category system is listed as the default type, but you can change back to one of the traditional ones that put unread messages or those that have been marked as important first.

Most of us do not like having a company like Google make changes to what we have gotten comfortable with, but the idea of categorizing messages is probably useful if you regularly receive a large number of messages. Try it with whichever email system you use.

The Prescott Computer Society will discuss this and other Google innovations at its August 17th meeting at the Library's Founders Suite at 1 PM.

Published: Courier 7/21/13 - Page 3C