Side panels in Gmail: How to Change the new View

Google has rolled out its newly stylized version of Gmail for the web; you may have decided you wanted to take a look as well.

Since your Gmail page hadn’t yet switched over, you may have clicked on the cog-like Settings icon in the upper-right corner of your page and then on the link labeled Try out the new Gmail view and refreshed the page.

The change isn’t radical. There is a new color scheme that everyone would like instead and a few other interface tweaks. The main difference is the left-hand side panel — now, the two side panels. You can have one or two side panels, depending on how you use Gmail.

Previously, a single panel gave you access to a menu of your various Gmail categories and labels (such as the Inbox, Starred, Trash, etc.). By tapping on the 3-line icon in the upper left (also known as a “hamburger”), you could tweak this panel to show either icons and labels or just icons. But now, Google has added another side panel that gives you immediate access to several apps: Mail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet.

New Gmail page with two side panels

A new side panel offers access to the Mail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet apps.

If you feel that two side panels are a bit much (as I do, especially on a laptop display), you can make the one with the categories disappear entirely by clicking on the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner.

Gmail with no categories panel

Tap the 3-lines in the top-left corner to disappear from the categories panel.

If you want to go to a different category or label in your Gmail, you can find them by looming your cursor over the Mail icon in the new panel.

Hovering your cursor over the Mail icon will bring up your categories menu. Want your second panel back? Click on the hamburger icon again.

And what if you don’t use Google Chat or Meet? It’s straightforward to get rid of their icons — and that extra side panel as well: 

  • Select Settings > Customize. You’ll be invited to choose which apps to use in Gmail. Uncheck Google Chat and Google Meet and click on Done.
  • Popup for choosing which apps to use in Gmail
  • Get rid of the new apps panel by unchecking these two boxes.
  • Click on Reload.

That’s it! You’re now back to a single familiar side panel. And just as before, the hamburger icon will toggle between a side panel with icons and labels or just icons.

You now have the new Gmail without the apps panel.

And if you’re just tired of the whole thing, for now, you can go back to the way things were by clicking on Settings > Go back to the original View. How long that option will be available is up to Google.

At its launch in 2004, Gmail delivered a storage capacity of one gigabyte per user, significantly higher than its competitors offered. Today, the service arrives with 15 gigabytes of storage. Users can accept emails up to 50 megabytes, including attachments, while they can send emails up to 25 megabytes. Users can insert files at Google Drive into the note to dispatch larger files. Gmail contains a search-oriented interface and a “conversation view” equivalent to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website creators for its early adoption of Ajax.

Google’s mail servers automatically scan emails for numerous purposes, including filtering spam and malware and adding context-sensitive advertisements next to emails. However, privacy advocates have significantly criticized this advertising practice due to concerns over unlimited data retention, ease of monitoring by third parties, and users of other email providers not agreeing to the policy upon sending emails to Gmail addresses. Google could change its policies to decrease privacy by integrating the information with other Google data usage.

The company has been the matter of lawsuits involving the issues. Google has declared that email users must “necessarily expect” their emails to be subject to automated processing. It claims that the service withholds from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive messages, like those mentioning race, health, religion, sexual orientation, or financial statements. In June 2017, Google announced the end of the use of contextual Gmail content for advertising objectives, relying instead on data gathered from the use of its other services.

The Gmail user interface initially varied from other webmail systems by grouping several messages between two or more people onto a single page, emphasizing search and conversation threading of emails, an approach later copied by its competitors. In addition, Gmail’s user interface designer, Kevin Fox, intended users to handle as if they were always on one page and just switching things on that page, rather than navigating other places.

Gmail’s interface also uses ‘labels’ (tags) – that replace the conventional folders and deliver:

  • A more flexible method of collecting emails.
  • Filters for automatically organizing, deleting, or delivering incoming emails to other addresses.
  • Priority markers for automatically labeling messages as ‘important.’

In November 2011, Google began moving out a redesign of its interface that “simplified” the countenance of Gmail into a more minimalist strategy to provide a more uniform look throughout its products and services as part of a prevailing Google design change. Majorly redesigned elements included:

  • A streamlined conversation view.
  • Configurable information density.
  • New higher-quality themes.
  • A resizable navigation bar with always-visible tags and contacts.
  • Better search.

Users could preview the new interface design for months before the official release and revert to the old interface till March 2012, when Google suspended the ability to revert and completed the transition to the latest design for all users.

Google updated the Gmail inbox with tabs that allow the application to categorize the user’s emails. The five tabs are Social, Promotions, Updates, Primary, and Forums. In addition to customization possibilities, the entire update can be disabled, allowing users to return to the traditional inbox structure.