12 C
New York
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gmail Is Kind of a Mess. Here’s How to Fix It

There are 1.5 billion (with a b!) active Gmail users, which Google clearly sees as an asset it can leverage. Perhaps you've noticed: Google keeps filling the interface with buttons for other services.

The left sidebar on the desktop, and the bottom sidebar on mobile, now have large buttons for Chat, Space, and Meet, three services Google would very much like you to start using.

A chonky sidebar with four buttons takes up a lot of space, seemingly just to remind Gmail users that Google offers videoconferencing and chat services. It's even worse on the mobile version, where the chonkbar constantly lives on the bottom of the screen. It's a lot of clutter, I'm tired of seeing it, and I don't think I'm alone.

You could take this as an opportunity to replace Gmail with a privacy-first email provider, but I understand not everyone wants to switch email addresses. With that in mind, here's how to keep your Gmail address without having to look at the chonky Gmail user interface—or, if you prefer, how to hide the chonkbar so you can get back to enjoying Gmail.

Try an Email Client

It's okay if you forgot about email clients—we all did. It's time to remember, though, because they show you your emails and otherwise stay out of your way. Here's a few I like:

On Apple devices, the default Mail app is clean, fast, and even blocks email tracking by default.On Windows, there's the default Mail app, which is very clean and stays out of your way.Outlook is really good now, and it's included if you're already paying for Microsoft Office. The mobile version, in particular, is much cleaner than Gmail in many ways, and it's a pretty nice calendar app too.Thunderbird is still a very good open source email client for all desktop operating systems.Canary is a clean, fast, secure email client for Windows, Android, and Apple devices. You can optionally use the default Gmail keyboard shortcuts, which is a big deal if you're a longtime Gmail power user.

All of these applications make it easy to add a Gmail account after installing, so you can try out a few and see what you like best. And everything will sync between these clients and Gmail, so you can use both at once for a while if that helps.

Most PopularGearThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride

Adrienne So

GearThe Best Lubes for Every Occasion

Jaina Grey

GearThe iPhone Is Finally Getting USB-C. Here’s What That Means

Julian Chokkattu

Gear11 Great Deals on Sex Toys, Breast Pumps, and Smart Lights

Jaina Grey

It might take a little getting used to, granted, but after a few months of using Apple Mail full-time I don't really miss Gmail at all.

Make Gmail Normal Again

If an email client isn't exactly what you're looking for, you can kind-of-sort-of get the old Gmail layout back. Click the gear icon in Gmail and then click More Settings. Head to the Chat and Meet tab, then choose Classic Hangouts as your chat option.

Click Save Changes and the left-hand icons for Chat, Spaces, and Meet—along with the chonkbar they live on—will disappear. You can also select Hide the Meet Section in the main menu to free up some more vertical space for your various labels. On mobile, you need to head to the settings for your account, scroll down a lot, and uncheck the Chat and Meet options. Do that and the chonkbar will be banished on mobile. (If you have more than one account, you will have to repeat this for every one of them.)

It's a good reminder of why you should always question the default settings. It's nice that these issues can be fixed, but I'd rather just stop using an interface that's part of a growth-hacking scheme.

This isn't the first time Google's done something like this. In 2010 Google crammed a social network called Google Buzz into Gmail and automatically added frequent contacts as friends, resulting in at least one person getting updates from their abusive ex. People weren't pleased, to say the least, and Google shut down the service less than two years later after numerous privacy lawsuits sullied the name.

I'd like to live in a world where a nice email app can just be a nice email app—a world where companies don't try to leverage user bases to accomplish some other corporate aim. I don't think I'm alone.

Related Articles

Latest Articles