What I like and don't like about the new Gmail interface

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 26, 2018
Email, Gmail

Google started the rollout of the new Gmail interface yesterday. While the company stated that users would be able to try it out as early as yesterday, it appears that the new interface is on a staged rollout which means that some users may not have access to it yet.

You can check out my initial review of major changes of the new Gmail interface as it helps find out what is new and changed, and how to activate the new Gmail interface right now.

The new interface is available only on request right now and it is possible to go back to the classic Gmail design as well. It is likely that Google will make the new interface the default eventually and remove the option to go back some time later.

In this article, I will focus on the things that I like and things that I dislike when it comes to the new interface.

The new Gmail: like and dislike

While there are certainly differences to the old Gmail interface, the general layout of things has not changed. Search, compose, the sidebar, and email listings are still there and displayed in the same order on the new Gmail.

The new design looks like a new paint job more than a complete overhaul of Gmail; that is good as users generally dislike interface updates that change things around.

Quick Actions

gmail quick actions

I really like the quick actions that Gmail displays when you hover over an email. Use them to delete, archive, snooze or mark as read emails without leaving the email list view.

Quick actions are available in all three "densities" that you can display the Gmail interface in.

While you get similar options (and additional ones) when you check emails, quick actions speed it up if you need to process just a few emails.

You need to use the select option to report spam, move emails, add labels, or use other actions such as mute, marking as unread or not important, or creating filters based on the selected emails.

Direct access to file attachments

file attachments

Direct access to file attachments is another feature that I like a lot. Gmail displays file attachments in the email list so that you may open them directly without having to view emails first to do so.

The option is only available in the default display density, however. If you select comfortable or compact, attachments are not listed directly in the mail listing (only the indicator that emails contain attachments).

Not designed for smaller windows / screens

gmail interface issues

One of the things that I dislike is that Google has not designed the new Gmail interface for smaller windows or screens.

If I display the Gmail window on one half of a 1920x1080 display, some menu options are not displayed at all.

If you check out the screenshot above, you may notice that the Settings button is not displayed at all. There is no option to display it other than increasing the size of the Gmail window.

Another issue that I have with the new design is that the font color, dark gray on light gray background, is not optimal in my opinion.

gmail fonts

You may not have issues with that if Gmail is displayed in a large enough window, but if you don't, you will notice that Gmail uses a different layout for email lists.

Tip: you can change the text color in the Settings under General.

The right sidebar

Gmail displays links to the Calendar, Keep and Tasks in the right sidebar now. The sidebar is new and it cannot be removed from the Gmail interface. Even if you don't use any of the services or add-ons that you may add to the sidebar, you are stuck with it.

Closing Words

Users should treat the new Gmail interface as a preview. Google may modify it before it is rolled out as the new default interface for the web mail service.

I think that Google needs to optimize the layout further and address at least the width issue as users may not see the Settings icon at all otherwise.

Now You: What's your take on the new interface?

What I like and don't like about the new Gmail interface
Article Name
What I like and don't like about the new Gmail interface
Google started the rollout of the new Gmail interface yesterday. While the company stated that users would be able to try it out as early as yesterday, it appears that the new interface is on a staged rollout which means that some users may not have access to it yet.
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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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