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.