Still using the old Gmail design?  Soon you will have to stop

Still using the old Gmail design? Soon you will have to stop

Starting this month, users who were expecting the new Gmail design introduced earlier this year will be forced to switch.

The latest design was first introduced as an opt-in update in February and then went opt-out this summer. Now it’s just Gmail, period.

The design hasn’t changed too much on how Gmail works; it mainly changed the color scheme – Gmail’s trademark red styling was gone in favor of a more neutral, default blue look, in keeping with the company’s “Material You” design principles. You can still change the coloring yourself.

The most noticeable change in the new design is the addition of a second sidebar to the far left of the screen alongside the usual Gmail sidebar. it includes things like your inbox and labels. The extra sidebar was Google’s effort to push Chat, Spaces and Meet, the products the company built to compete with Slack and Zoom in the virtual office world. By default, the bar included links for Gmail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet…and lots of unused white space.

Google said this sidebar was introduced to make it easier to move between these apps without having to bounce between browser tabs, but it was a promotional move as much as anything since these services aren’t as popular than competitors like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams is with some companies.

That said, you can completely remove the new sidebar, which was not the case when it was introduced earlier this year.

Back in July, Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica wrote about how you can ditch that sidebar:

This new “no sidebar” option isn’t very obvious, but you can kill the Gmail sidebar by disabling Google Chat and Google Meet. Just head to the settings gear, then the “Customize” link under “Chat & Meet”. Uncheck both boxes and the sidebar will disappear, allowing you to reclaim a lot of screen space.

This also allows the standard Gmail sidebar to behave more like the previous design. Whether you stick to the sidebar or not, you can no longer configure chat on the right side of Gmail.

Amadeo also explained how to change the background color to bring it a bit closer to what you knew before:

Gmail still has a theme system, so you can change the color however you see fit. Click the settings cog in the top right, then under the “theme” section, click “show all.” The closest background to the old Gmail is the plain “soft gray” background option. To really match the old Gmail background, you’d want “white”, but that’s not an option.

It won’t quite give you an exact replica of the old look, but it’s pretty close. Of course, if you’re not too concerned about the new design, you can just live with it. This is probably more convenient if your organization uses Chat or Meet a lot.

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