Q I’ve been using Gmail as my main email tool for a few years. Recently, the whole look seems to have changed, with text labels having been removed from control buttons and odd yellow markers appearing alongside some messages (I have no idea what these are - I can’t remember ever flagging these messages in any way). I hate Gmail’s new interface and I want to go back to the old look - but I can’t find how to do it. Is it possible?
A The short answer is no - Google is intent on creating a unified look for all its products and services, and this includes Gmail.
For a while Google allowed Gmail users to continue using the old look (by clicking on a ‘Revert to the old look temporarily’ link, which appeared at the bottom right of the Gmail window), but at the time of writing this option has been withdrawn - permanently, we presume. However, we can at least solve the yellow markers problem, and offer a bit of help in restoring the old-style Gmail.
The yellow markers are called ‘importance markers’. They are used to flag messages that Gmail thinks are more important than others based on numerous factors, including how often you deal with the sender and how you’ve dealt with such messages in the past. While importance markers are on by default in Gmail’s new look, they can be disabled. Click the cog icon at the top right of the Gmail window and choose Settings from the dropdown menu. Now click the Inbox link at the top and, in the Importance markers section, click to select the No markers radio button. Click Save Changes, log out of Gmail, log in again, and those yellow markers should be no more.
A few things can be done to pare down the new Gmail look so it resembles the old one. Click the cog icon, for example, to see the three ‘Display Density’ options: choosing Compact will condense the interface, removing much of the white space inserted by the new design. Or click the Chat and Gadgets icons ( bottom left of Gmail) to remove the two panels on the left-hand side. To restore text labels on buttons click the cog icon, choose Settings followed by General and choose the Text radio button in the Button labels section.
I you want to go back to basics you can - for now - use an HTML-only version of Gmail. This removes much of the useful functionality - such as the spell-checker, keyboard shortcuts and ability to drag and drop attachments into the Compose window. But it also eliminates many of the new interface quirks that annoy you. You’ll find Gmail’s HTML view here www.snipca.com/6062, and you can read more about it on Google's help pages. at www.snipca.com/6063.
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