Exposing Gmail’s Categories to IMAP

Unfortunately, gmail doesn’t expose its “Categories” to IMAP. I’m using mu4e as my email client, but I’d still like my mail categorized with gmail’s bayesian-or-whatever classifiers, so I found a fix.

This workaround uses filters to automatically apply labels to categories. Once labeled the old fashioned way, they can then be exposed to IMAP.

  1. Create a new filter via gmail/settings/filters

  2. Enter category:primary in the “Has the words” field and click “Create filter with this search.”

  3. Check “apply a label to this filter” and create the filter.

  4. Expose the filter to IMAP via gmail/settings/labels

If you’re using mu4e, run mu4e-update-mail-and-index and create shortcuts to your new folders. Mine looks like this:

  (setq mu4e-maildir-shortcuts
        '( ("/primary"             . ?i)
           ("/social"              . ?s)
           ("/promotions"          . ?p)
           ("/updates"             . ?u)
           ("/forums"              . ?f)
           ("/Notes"               . ?n)
           ("/Todo"                . ?d)
           ("/[Gmail].Sent Mail"   . ?e)
           ("/[Gmail].Trash"       . ?b)
           ("/[Gmail].All Mail"    . ?a)))