Remember the old Gmail—you know, before instant chat, the preview pane, the automatic message sorting, and the much-hated “new look”?
Here’s five ways to turn back the clock on some of Gmail’s latest (and for some, most annoying) new features, starting with…
1. Go back to the “Classic” inbox
Gmail offers a variety of new ways to organize your inbox, from displaying unread messages first to bubbling up “Important” emails that (supposedly, anyway) matter most to you.
Just select “Classic” to keep messages in your Gmail inbox ordered chronologically.
Want your Gmail messages ordered the old-fashioned way—that is, chronologically?
Here’s what you do:
- Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen, select Settings, and then click the Inbox tab.
- Click the pull-down menu marked “Inbox type” and select “Classic.”
- You can also nix the little yellow flags next to the messages that Gmail thinks are “Important” to you; just select the “No Markers” option under “Importance markers.”
- Click the “Save Changes” button. All done!
2. Deactivate the preview pane
Personally, I like being able to sneak a peek at my messages from the Gmail inbox view, but the preview pane (which debuted back in 2011) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Not a fan of the preview pane? You can turn it off with a single click.
Luckily, you can turn the preview pane off in just a few clicks.
Just go to your inbox, find the preview pane icon (it’s in the top-right corner of the screen, directly above your list of messages), and click the button.
Buh-bye, preview pane.
You can also click the downward arrow and select “No split,” if you wish.
3. Turn off chat
Gmail isn’t just about email, of course; it also comes with its own, built-in online chat client, which hums away in the bottom-left corner of the page while you’re checking your messages.
It’s a handy feature for multitasking chatters, but you can also return to the simpler days of email-only Gmail if you wish.
- Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page, select Settings, then click the Chat tab.
- Under the main Chat heading, click the “Chat off” setting, then click the “Save Changes” button to shut
- Gmail’s chat window.
4. Unthread your conversations
Gmail’s “conversation view,” which groups individual messages in an ongoing email thread together, isn’t really a new feature; in fact, it’s been standard in Gmail for as long as I can remember.
Even so, I still hear regular complaints from Gmail users who want their messages—even those in lengthy conversation threads—to appear the “old” way rather than grouped together.
Well, your wish is my command…
- Head back to the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page, click it, select Settings, and click the General tab.
- Find the Conversation View heading (it’s sixth from the top) and click the “Conversation view off” setting.
- Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
Ah, the old Gmail look is back—well, almost.
5. Banish Gmail’s “new look”
“Annoying,” “cluttered,” “cumbersome”: that’s how many of you have described Gmail’s new, modern-looking makeover, which first reared its ugly head a couple of years ago.
Initially, Gmail users could “temporarily” revert to the old look, but Google unceremoniously yanked that option last April.
While the old Gmail appears to be gone for good, you can still go back to something resembling the old look: the bare-bones “HTML” version of Gmail, which bears a striking resemblance to the old-fashioned Gmail interface.
To try the HTML version of Gmail, just click this link:
Like what you see? Add the link to your browser bookmarks to keep the new Gmail at bay.
Looking for more Gmail tips? Click here!
Please Note: Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. I get commissions for purchases made through those links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases when you buy something from those links.
NOTE: The old way of changing back to the Classic view of Gmail doesn’t work anymore. There are tons of blog posts incorrectly telling people how to change your Gmail appearance using this out-of-date-method and Google has started removing that temporary option.
Don’t be frustrated, though, the details throughout this post will help you change your Gmail view permanently (or at least until the next update) to look more like the Gmail Classic view.
Usually, I find technology changes to be a good thing. Sometimes, though, they are so disruptive to my normal groove that I just have to figure out a way back.
Some historical examples include:
- Turning off the “office assistant”…you know Clippy the Paperclip?
- Viewing Facebook in the most recent view, instead of their terrible algorithmic view.
- The 2011 Twitter interface update (yes…I’m still sore about that one).
- How to change Gmail view back to the Classic view, rather than this modern, huge-font view they recently rolled out in the Gmail Update 2019.
I don’t know what it is about the new Gmail look, but those rounded buttons and GIANT BOLD fonts just mess with my mojo when I’m reading my email.
The new rounded buttons and big bold fonts of the updated Gmail look just doesn’t work for me. I like the old Gmail version much better!
For a little while, Google gave us a way to change back to the “classic view” of Gmail. Previously, the way to revert to the Gmail Classic view was:
- Go to Gmail.com
- Login to your account
- Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of Gmail and choose “Go back to classic Gmail”.
Gmail previously offered the ability to go back to classic Gmail. This, however, has since been removed.
Once you clicked on that, Gmail would revert back to the classic view. The problem is, that was only a temporary thing.
I reverted back to the classic view back in August and today, when I logged in to Gmail….the modern view of Gmail was back. I wondered if I could revert back again, so I clicked the Settings icon and there was the “Go back to classic Gmail” link again. Whew!!
But, alas, it was a cruel trick perpetrated by Google. When the page reloaded, the modern view of Gmail was still in place and the link to go back to the classic view was gone.
The ability to change the Gmail appearance back to the Classic view has been removed from the Settings menu.
So…what to do? You can either live with the new, modern view or you can adjust the modern view to look a little more like the classic view.
Personally, I like the Classic view, so I decided to find the adjustments. The rounded buttons, I can live with but the giant font just rubs me the wrong way.
Changing Back To Gmail Classic View Step 1 – Adjust The Display Density
So, to reduce the font size back to look a bit more like the Classic view, the first thing I did was adjust the Display Density of the text. To adjust your Gmail display density:
- Go to Gmail.com
- Login to your account
- Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of Gmail and choose Display Density
In the Classic view of Gmail, the display density was much more compact, so more emails were displayed on the screen. Choose the Compact view and then click OK to close the popup box.
The compact display density will adjust the number of lines visible in Gmail back to be more like the Classic view
Changing Back To Gmail Classic View Step 2 – Ditch The Side Panel
The next step in adjusting Gmail to look more like the Classic view is the remove the side panel. Classic Gmail didn’t have a side panel and I don’t use it, so I just clicked the Right-facing arrow in the bottom-right corner of Gmail and choose Hide Side Panel.
You can hide the side panel in Gmail to adjust the UI to look more like the classic view.
Changing Back To Gmail Classic View Step 3 – Make More Room In The Folders Pane
The last step in moving Gmail back to look more like the Classic view is to adjust the folder list to display more folder. In the modern view, Google shortened the pane by default to only show about 10 folder. this allowed your Google chat pane to be more prominent.
Personally, I want to see more folders and Google gave us the capability to adjust the folder pane. To adjust the folder pane size:
- Go to Gmail.com
- Login to your account
- Click and hold the bottom of the folder pane and drag down
You can drag the folder pane down to make it larger to look more like the Classic view of Gmail.
And that pretty much does it. With the more compact display density, the absence of the side panel, and the taller folder pane, Gmail feels more like the standard Classic view.
I hope that helps those of you who are like me and like the Classic view better. If I missed something or if you have another tip, let me know and I’ll take a look at it and potentially add it to the post.
Gmail’s redesign is now mandatory — the opt-out option is gone. Use a third-party style sheet to get the old Gmail look back or tweak Gmail’s settings to undo some of the changes.
If you like the new look, that’s great – but if you don’t, you have a choice. The options here will help Gmail look more like the webmail system you’re used to.
Install a Style Sheet
“The Return of Old Gmail” is an unofficial user style (custom style sheet) that makes Gmail look like the original. It’s been tested with both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. You can get it from the UserStyles.org website.
First, click the “install Stylish” link to install the Stylish browser extension.
After it’s been installed, click the “Install with Stylish” button to install the style sheet. If you don’t see this button, press F5 to refresh the page.
The style sheet makes Gmail look much more familiar. Follow the steps in the next section to get the inbox looking more compact.
If you don’t want to install a third-party stylesheet that may break in the future, Gmail has a few settings that undo some of the changes. These settings will follow you from computer-to-computer, while you’ll have to install the style sheet in each web browser you use.
Maximize Screen Real Estate
Gmail’s new default display density is a break from the past, showing less information in the same amount of screen space. To get a denser inbox back, enable the Compact display density from the gear menu. The default is now Comfortable.
The Compact layout displays more information in a smaller area, like the original Gmail design did.
Restore Text Labels
Gmail’s new toolbar ditches the old text labels for icons. If you’d rather have the old text labels back, you can re-enable them and hide the icons.
To get the text labels back, click the gear menu at the top right corner of the Gmail page and click Settings. Locate the Button labels section on the settings page and select the Text option.
Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page to save the setting after you change it.
This tweak doesn’t restore the old button layout, but it does restore the old text labels.
Change the Theme
Many people find that the High Contrast theme looks more similar to the original look than the Light theme, which is the new default. To change your theme, click the gear icon and select the Themes option.
Google doesn’t offer an original Gmail theme, but the High Contrast theme may be your best pick. Feel free to select any other theme you prefer from here. Some themes incorporate high-resolution imagery.
The High Contrast theme restores some of the contrast removed from Gmail with the new theme, although it’s significantly darker.
Bear in mind that third-party user scripts may break as Google updates Gmail. There’s a good chance you’ll have to install updated or alternate versions in the future.
If you use Gmail.com as your primary web mail client, you likely have noticed that Gmail has a new redesigned visual interface and appearance that is larger, more spacious, a bigger sidebar, and more bold appearance all around, with a series of new cursor hover detection features as well. Many Gmail users like the change and others may not notice the difference, while some others may feel the new visual interface of Gmail is not what they’re hoping for and would prefer something a bit more simple in appearance, or a faster version of Gmail. Thus some Gmail users may want to change Gmail back to the old classic version, or at least something that looks and feels closer to the older Gmail versions.
We’ll show you a few different ways to change the Gmail interface and appearance, including switching back to Classic Gmail (though this may not be possible for everyone), some tips for adjusting the visual appearance of new Gmail to make it appear a bit more like the older version of Gmail, and even a method for how to use a much older simple version of Gmail that has a very simplified appearance without some of the newer features but in turn is lightning fast to load and interact with. Explore each of the options below to see how you can change Gmail.
How to Change Gmail Back to Classic Old Version of Gmail
Here is how you can change Gmail back to the old version, though this option is not available for all Gmail users now as the new interface is being rolled out universally and soon will be impossible to revert away from. Nonetheless you can check if this option is available for you:
- Open Gmail.com in your web browser and login if you haven’t done so already
- Click the Gear icon in the upper right corner of Gmail
- Chose “Go back to Classic Gmail” *
* The ability to use “Go back to classic Gmail” appears to be increasingly limited and appears to be in the process of being phased out entirely.
If you do not have the “Go back to classic Gmail” option then use the options below to adjust the appearance of Gmail, or much further below you can see the option to switch to Simple HTML Gmail.
How to Make New Gmail Look More Like Old Classic Gmail
You can make some visual adjustments to the new Gmail to make it appear a bit more like the older classic Gmail, here’s how to do that:
- Open Gmail.com in your web browser as usual
- Click the Gear icon then choose “Display Density” and select “Compact” or ‘Comfortable’ depending on which you prefer, then click OK – this allows you to see more emails on a single screen
- Now click the gear icon again, this time choosing “Settings”
- Under ‘General’ settings look for “Hover actions:” and choose “Disable hover actions” then scroll down and Save Changes – this disables the mouse hover buttons and hover actions that pop up as your cursor moves around on Gmail
- Now again go back to the Gear icon and this time choose “Themes” and scroll down to try out different themes, the two that most resemble old gmail are “Soft Gray” and “High Contrast”
Those adjustments will change Gmail appearance and behavior a bit so that it functions closer to the prior Gmail release. Increasing the visual density and disabling Hover Actions may be sufficient alone for many users who didn’t initially like the new Gmail, since adjusting those options allow you to see more emails immediately in a Gmail window while also preventing any of the Hover options from either obscuring email details or from being accidentally clicked.
How to Revert New Gmail to Basic HTML Old Gmail
If you really don’t like the new Gmail interface and visual overhauls and behaviors, you can revert to what is basically a very old version of Gmail in appearance and functionality by using Simple HTML Gmail, which strips out all of the fancier features and any visual styling, making it look sort of like how Gmail did a decade ago. You’ll also see more emails per page since the Basic Old Gmail view is more condensed and has a much smaller sidebar and less bolding and padding.
- When you’re logged into Gmail, open this link to load Basic HTML Gmail: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/
- Now at the top of the screen, choose “Set basic HTML as default view” to always load Basic HTML Gmail in the browser
Using Basic HTML Gmail won’t be an option for all users if they want to continue using some of the fancier Gmail features like Hover, chat, keyboard shortcuts, and rich formatting, but if you’re mostly using Gmail as a simple email client and don’t need any bells and whistles it will work great. It also loads lightning fast, and has a very simple interface that is not intrusive even if Simple HTML Gmail may look a little dated to users who have accustomed themselves to the new Material Design appearance of new Gmail.
I personally like Basic HTML Gmail, maybe it’s the sort of retro aspect to it, but that combined with the raw speed of the simple version works well for me. Which of the options above you’ll prefer, whether it’s simply adjusting thew new Gmail interface to show more emails per screen or changing the theme, or trying to go back to classic Gmail, or using Basic HTML Gmail, is going to be entirely a matter of personal preference and how you use Gmail. Your individual choices will likely depend on what size screen you use amongst other variables.
Another helpful trick is to set the default Google account if you use multiple Gmail accounts, like many of us do for work and personal. Another very helpful Gmail trick for some users is to turn off Gmail inbox sorting and the labels for “Updates” “Promotions” “Social” and “Primary” which will instead place all emails into the same universal inbox view.
Do you know of any other methods or approaches to changing the Gmail appearance back to the old version? Do you know of any other helpful tweaks or settings for Gmail to switch back to old Gmail, or to revert back to Classic Gmail? Share with us in the comments below! And you might also be interested in checking out other Gmail tips too.
I’ll be completely honest: I absolutely cannot stand change of any kind. Whether it’s something as basic as a haircut, or if it’s a little more drastic, like a family member moving away, change always manages to get to me вЂ” in the worst way possible. In terms of recent changes, Gmail decided to shock users nationwide when the company changed its format earlier in summer 2018. So, as you would probably imagine, it’s been driving me totally and utterly bonkers. If you are also missing the old version of the website, here’s how to go back to the old Gmail format. I am personally so relieved that it’s possible.
You may have felt totally defeated or backstabbed when Gmail went behind your back and changed the format first for early adopters in April, and had a full rollout of the update in July 2018. Luckily, though, reverting it back is simple. First, according to The New York Times, you’ll have to navigate to Settings, which you can find in the upper-right side of your Gmail homepage screen. Click on it, and select вЂњGo back to classic Gmail.” Then, the old version should come up immediately. You may be asked why you decided to change back. Personally, I think it’s OK if the only reason is that you just can’t deal with change, because #same.
Make sure you take full advantage of being able to use the old version, though. According to Softonic, you reportedly won’t be able to revert to it for long. By October 2018, using Gmail’s old version won’t be an option anymore, and everyone will automatically be forced to use the updated version. Users on the new version won’t be able to opt out anymore, and users still using the old version will be forced to use the new format. Per the official update on the G Suite Blog in June 2018, the “opt-out option” will be removed “approximately 12 weeks after the GA announcement in July.” So, you may want to use this sweet, sweet time to continue using the old Gmail. Hopefully, when you transition to the new one, it wont take you too long to get accustomed to it.
While the transition has been practically unbearable, there are a number of benefits from using Gmail’s new format. If you’re often late responding to emails, the new version will now remind you to follow up, and it includes a Smart Reply feature that crafts potential responses. It also provides a more “streamlined look,” the ability to better organize attachments as well as Offline Mode and a Snooze Button вЂ” so you can get some time away from your email.
In terms of safety and security, the new version also provides Confidential Mode and Design Refresh. These features are basically used for private information that you must send electronically. Confidential Mode makes emails expire and retractable, while Design Refresh warns you not to click something, in the event that it might be a scam. When push comes to shove, the new design is actually pretty cool.
Don’t get me wrong вЂ” the new Gmail format is honestly rad. It has a lot of really useful benefits and extremely hi-tech features. I, however, was all about the old version, and, in general, I really just can’t handle change. Come October, though, both you and I won’t be able to use the old version ever again, so please think of me during this time of hardship. I’ll be fine.
If you love Gmail but you hate the new pop-up compose window, what can you do? Read on as we help an HTG reader get back to the compose window he longs for.
I don’t want to come off as one of those complains-when-stuff-changes guys, but I really don’t like this whole new compose-in-a-window crap with Gmail. I can totally see what they’re going for: our email inboxes are like mega communication hubs and it makes sense to have the compose window layer over emails you might need to look at while working and replying to email. My problem is I can’t focus with all that visual clutter. I liked the old compose window because it took up the entire screen and forced me to focus just on what I was doing in the moment with that email.
Please tell me there’s an easy way to return it to the previous user interface!
We can certainly understand not wanting your workflow to change. While we’re not particularly upset about the compose window shrinking and layering over the inbox, we’re still annoyed that they condensed the handy toolbar icons into sub-groups that require an extra mouse click to access–so inconvenient!
Before we show you how to resurrect the old compose window, however, let’s highlight how you can get back the full-screen coverage you crave without any tinkering. Everyone encountered the new Gmail compose window in its minimized form, like so:
This is the layer-over view that Google so heavily promoted. It gives you space (albeit a small space with condensed button layout) to compose, layered over your inbox so you can reference emails, search for content, etc. Like you, we see the utility of this layout, but we do like things more spacious and our toolbar unpacked and more accessible. Just clicking on the full screen button (the two little arrows pointing away from each other in the upper right corner of the compose window) will expand the space significantly:
In addition to the extra space, switching to full-screen mode also changes the toolbar from a very minimalist:
Into a more spacious toolbar with all the editing toggles you were used to seeing in the old compose window:
If you want and even bigger compose window with absolutely nothing but the composition window, you can click on the little arrow in the upper right corner while holding the shift key. Press F11 to go full screen and you’ll see nothing but compose window without even the slightest bit of distraction:
At this point, you’ve essentially turned the new compose window into a distraction-free text editor without even so much as a GUI bar or sidebar with visual clutter to be seen.
If you’d prefer to default to the large view in the future, click on the menu arrow next to the trash can in the lower right hand corner. There you can set the full-size view as your default compose window.
If this is enough of a throwback to the the previous interface (you now have more space, a functional toolbar, and a distraction free workspace if you use the shift + F11 trick), then you can save yourself the (minor) hassle of installing anything to rework the compose window. To recapture the look of the old Gmail compose window, read on.
Several extensions have appeared since the old compose window vanished. The above screenshot is our Gmail inbox rendered in the old fashioned layout courtesy of the Chrome extension Retro Compose for Gmail (discontinued). Retro Compose puts a small toggle on your browser toolbar which allows you to easily switch back to the newer compose window. Another Chrome-based option is Classic Gmail Compose.
One option, available for both Chrome and Firefox, is Old Compose. The extension works quite well; the poor reviews are due entirely to a tweet-to-use promotion they ran awhile back that upset a few folks.
They all effectively do the exact same thing but, since there’s always a chance Google will make changes and some of the extension authors will stop updating them, we’ll share all worthwhile ones we’re aware of so you’re not left high and dry after a future Gmail update.
While you’re in the mood to tame your email and bend it to your will, we’d definitely recommend checking out some other email-related tips and tricks like:
Those of you, including Cramped Composin’, who wanted the old compose window back will likely be especially interested in the last suggestion: getting Gmail itself to look like it did several years ago. Happy email streamlining and GUI modding!
How to sort your Gmail by date
What to Know
- View messages in reverse chronological order by hovering over the 1-?? in the upper-right corner and selecting Oldest.
- You can also search for emails by date using a variety of search operators like after, before, and older_than.
This article explains how you can sort by date in Gmail to display messages in reverse chronological order. Instructions apply to the web version of Gmail. It’s not possible to sort messages by date in the Gmail app.
How to View Gmail Messages in Reverse Chronological Order
When you sort messages by date in Gmail, you see the last page of messages first, but the messages are still listed from newest to oldest. If a folder has only one page of messages, look at the bottom of the screen to see the oldest conversation. If a folder has multiple pages of messages, use this workaround:
You can adjust how many conversations should be shown per page in your Gmail settings.
In the upper-right corner, just above your messages, there’s a number that shows how many emails are in the current folder. Hover the mouse over the email counter until a small menu drops down and choose Oldest. You’re taken to the last page of emails in that folder; the oldest message is listed at the bottom.
To move back to a previous screen to see newer messages, use the back arrow next to the email count.
If you want to read your Gmail messages in the default order, select the email counter and choose Newest from the drop-down menu.
Search Gmail by Date
If you want to find a message from a specific point in time, search your Gmail by date. You can even combine search operators to display messages between specific dates. Examples of valid search queries include:
Did you lose an important message? It might be archived
What to Know
- Select the All Mail label to see all mail, including what’s been archived.
- Select any message you want to recover, and then select Move to Inbox.
- In the Gmail app, find and open the message, then tap the three-dot menu and select Move to Inbox.
This article explains how to find archived emails in Gmail and move them back to your Inbox. Instructions apply to Gmail in all web browsers and the Gmail mobile app.
How to Retrieve Archived Emails in a Browser
Although archived messages are removed from your inbox, these messages are still stored in your Gmail account and can be retrieved in a few steps. These messages also remain indexed and appear when you search for Gmail messages. You can view emails while they’re archived, but if you plan to continue the conversation, move the messages in the conversation to the Inbox.
Select All Mail on the left side of Gmail.
Select the emails you want to return to the Inbox. The emails that are in the Inbox are labeled Inbox in front of the subject line.
Use Gmail search tools to find your archived messages.
In the main toolbar above the emails, select Move to Inbox.
A confirmation appears that verifies the emails have been moved to the Inbox. Select Undo to reverse the process.
Retrieve Archived Emails Using the Mobile App
Here’s how to move archived messages back to your Inbox using the mobile Gmail app:
Tap the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) at the top of the screen.
Tap All Mail in the panel that opens.
Tap the email you want to retrieve.
Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of the message.
Tap Move to Inbox.
Tips to Avoid Accidental Archiving
It can be easy to archive a message accidentally. Avoid this by taking the following precautions:
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)
Google has introduced a new look for Gmail, that it is in phases implementing across all its services. And expectedly users are eagerly trying out the revamped design to get a glimpse of what’s new in there.
While I quite like the new Gmail interface, there are many who do not think so. I have been inundated with queries from friends and colleagues on how to get their old Gmail back as they didn’t quite like the new design.
It is infact quite simple to get your old Gmail back, only that Google has not displayed it by default (therefore thought of putting together this simple tutorial in hope of driving in some traffic to the blog).
If you too are stuck with the new Gmail interface and want to revert to the old look, here’s what you need to do.
- Click on the Gmail settings icon (It resembles a gear). It isn’t the one on the top right corner but the one a little below it.
- Click on ‘Revert to the old link temporarily’
- You will be prompted to choose the old look or to stick on with the new look. Click on the ‘Revert to the old link temporarily’ button and you are done.
But this is only a temporary reprieve as Google will after some time force all users to move to the new interface. But if there is something that you don’t like about the new Gmail look you can send Google your feedback here.
And just in case you are wondering about how to get the new Gmail look, just look for the ‘Switch to the new look’ link on the bottom right corner of your screen.