Gmail Privacy: Why are my Gmail Smart Features not working?

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I love Gmail Smart Features. They can make replying quicker and finish my sentence so to speak. You may have seen them disappear recently and chances are you declined them while Google was updating their Gmail privacy permissions.

More specifically, Gmail Smart features:

  • Filter your emails into tabs (Primary/Social/Promotions)
  • Prioritize emails
  • Smart compose
  • Smart reply
  • Summary cards
  • Extract calendar info and adding an event to your calendar

Especially the calendar function and the smart compose and reply functions are smart features that I very much appreciate. I don’t use the tabs at all and never have. I prefer everything in one inbox and then I can work my way to Inbox Zero or unsubscribe from content I don’t want.

Read next: How many newsletters are too many?

Why Gmail Smart Features might be turned off

I got this notification on my iPad while I checked my email first thing in the morning. Basically, Google is making me opt in to use those features for free in exchange for my data. It’s nice to have the choice certainly.

Gmail smart features notice

Gmail smart features notice


I know how easy it can be to just click next and lose those functionalities – even if you want to keep them, but we read the prompts too quickly. Personally, I understand that Google products are free for me and I’m paying with my data. Plus, I want to keep some of those features so it was an easy opt-in for me. No answer is pre-checked so it might be save to assume that people will actually read the options before choosing one.

Turning Gmail Smart features on

Either way, if you accidentally turned them off or changed your mind simply go into Settings and stay in the General Tab, scroll down and make sure everything is turned on.

Gmail Smart features turn on

From a marketing perspective

It’s certainly good to see that Google gives people the option. From a marketer’s perspective I’m torn. In theory, the more relevant information Google knows about people, the more likely it is that they show my ads to them when it makes the most sense. If that’s true, then of course I want people to opt in.

But, if my marketing emails have been stuck in Gmail promotion tabs for the last couple of years, this may potentially help with true email deliverability.

Read next: Are Google text ads effective? How to create a high-performing one!

From a consumer perspective, I don’t mind opting in and letting them use my data in exchange for useful and helpful tools. The other option would be to have to pay for them, I suppose. I also wonder how much I actually would miss these features if I didn’t realize that I lost them. But for now, I wanted to answer the question: What happened to my Gmail Smart Features and how you can turn them (back) on.

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