Google has just completely revamped Gmail, changing the layout and bringing many new features to your inbox. The change is probably one of Gmail’s biggest in the last 18 years. If you’ve decided not to go back to the original design, you’re probably looking at the new Gmail interface while browsing your email.
Key changes include new color themes, an updated search function, updated menu and navigation tools, and a new way of interacting with Google Meet, Chat, and other apps within the Gmail interface.
In a blog (opens in new tab)Neena Kamath, Gmail’s product manager, says the redesign is a push toward a “unified Gmail,” making it easier to switch and navigate between Google’s many apps.
Google has been rolling out many of these changes lately, and while some of the changes are under the hood and hard to track, I’ve tried out all the new features the tech giant has recently rolled out in Gmail.
As an avid user of Gmail and Google’s suite of apps – both for personal use and for work – I switched to the new Gmail interface as soon as it was launched. Some of the changes seem integral and are a definite improvement, while others were just plain annoying. Here are the ones that are worth trying and will increase your productivity.
Gmail: New features I like
Gmail’s new redesign takes a little getting used to. Similar to the logo, the edges are much softer and Google tries to let you switch apps seamlessly (something they’ve struggled with in the past).
Gmail’s new interface moves the Mail, Meet, Spaces, and Chat buttons to a left panel. You can switch within apps and won’t be bothered by chat bubbles popping up. I kinda preferred that earlier because my notifications are a bit lost now, but overall it might be a good move to keep distractions at bay. There is also now an option to “quick reply” to chat messages.
You can also hover over the app icon in the left panel, which brings up a quick list of chats or emails.
The best thing about the redesign is that you can customize everything. So with “quick settings” I could just use Gmail, or on some days when I had a lot more meetings I could set up Gmail and Meet on my tabs. The labels (like Starred, Snoozed, Important) can also be customized – which is so handy because Google’s default labels are just a bit confusing to me, let alone their AI.
You can also check out our Quick Start Guide how to customize the side panels of your Gmail account.
There’s a clean new look that Google’s Material Design 3 (opens in new tab) brings. It looks pretty slick even in dark mode. The classic red and white has given way to a softer blue on the surface. The colors are much more pleasing in the redesign.
I have set different profile colors for my Google Workspace for my personal and work accounts. This allows me to easily see which profile I’m on, and I like that Google has made it easy to switch between profiles in the right-hand corner.
Better search options
Google’s search chips are now in Gmail, which means there are several different filters to choose from to get to the email you’re looking for.
This comes with improved machine learning search that Google recently rolled out for Gmail. In a blog post (opens in new tab)Google says Gmail has “more accurate and roundabout search suggestions with better customization as a result of our new machine learning models.”
Search suggestions used to be sorted by a sender’s last name — now Google more seamlessly matches the name and contact email address, claiming “suggestions are reordered to make contact requests more likely to match first names or email addresses.” . This should come in handy if you’re used to searching for contacts by their first name, as those results will now appear at the top.
I tried the new search with some intricate details, and when I searched for the person’s first name, their email address came up in a more contextual and chronological order than Gmail had before. There are now personalized suggestions for contacts in Gmail, too, and chances are Google knows who your boss is or which co-worker you interact with the most. My auto-suggestions definitely got me into it, and searching is a lot more intuitive now.
Gmail almost makes sure you’re emailing the right person, and the AI-based enhancements are similar to Gmail’s Smart Compose or Smart Reply features that Google developed a few years ago. (With that in mind, you can also learn how to turn off Gmail’s smart features to prevent tracking).
Gmail: New features I don’t like
There’s a lot more to like than dislike about Gmail now. But not everything is as fresh as the fresh look of Gmail’s interface. Google’s effort to bring all of its apps together seems like a long-standing goal — one that might still take some time to get right. The push makes Gmail look a lot more like Microsoft’s Outlook, and while that might not be a bad thing – I wish we had more flexibility with apps that can be supported in Gmail.
Now Gmail’s mini-apps – Meet or Chat – can be added or removed in the UI. Google could have extended this to some of its other workspace apps like Calendar for easier access. Some of Google’s apps are slightly similar and also tend to overlap. I believe Chat could do most of Spaces’ functions without the need for an additional tab.
Also, Google opened up a full list of conversations from Spaces, Meet, or Chat on a single screen. I wish Gmail would take a page out of iPadOS 16 and have more multitasking capabilities or even split-screen views of the apps.
Searching Gmail used to be a lot less effective – so I’m glad Google has focused on improving this significantly.
Gmail for tablets
Most of the new Gmail changes aim to improve the web experience for Gmail. However, Google has announced that it will introduce an improved experience for tablet users that includes better emojis and new accessibility features.
Gmail also introduced new tablet-centric Drive, Keep, Docs, Slide, and Sheets features in July. The updates are very handy and include drag-and-drop for images and files across apps, and a multi-window experience for Drive. We hope these will find their way to Gmail soon as well.
Navigating the new Gmail redesign can be a bit daunting. If you’re not a fan, Google explains how to revert to the old look (opens in new tab).