Comfy, Cozy or Compact? What’s your choice? No I’m not talking about your approach to the winter season that we’re starting to ease into; I’m talking about Gmail’s new User Interface (UI) that has many users wondering whether to try the new look and when. Starting around the first of November, Google has been slowly rolling out its new (UI) and you have been able to preview the new look without committing to it. One of the stated reasons for the new UI is to make it more user friendly, more intuitive. The underlying assumption is that it will be more easily assimilated by newbies. However, for those who are used to the old way, it requires a little unlearning.
In answer to this week’s question, I do like it and I am ready to adopt it. I recommend you do the same and this column is designed to help you transition without problems. Some of the changes will not be obvious on first look, but an overriding purpose is to make Gmail more adaptable to various browsers and screen sizes (all the way from newer giant screens to smaller mobile ones) and to make it work more seamlessly with other Google products like their excellent Calendar. “Seamlessly” is a good thing. It simply means that things work together like you on the user side would want them to; to the point that you don’t even recognize the challenges that were overcome on the technical side.
Anyway, here are a few tips to get you off on the right track. Go ahead and click the button (bottom right) that invites you to try the new interface. Don’t even think about turning back now. Notice right off the bat that the red ”Mail” menu at top left has a drop down menu: “Contacts” are right under there. Now adjust the “display density” so that the interface is clearest on your monitor, in your browser. Here’s how. Note there are two “Gear Cogs” at the upper right that help you adjust settings, a white one in the black menu bar and a grey one below that which is the one we want now. Click on the grey gear and look for “display density”. Click each choice in turn and pick the one that looks best on your display. For me it is the “Cozy”. Yours may be different.
The rest of your transition will be intuitive I think. Labels are still labels, with some enhanced features like drag and drop. You can go into Settings and adjust the size of your Label and Chat Panes. And you can get rid of some of the advertising panes.
“Search” has been very much enhanced though it is not labeled prominently. It’s the obvious search box at the top next to the Gmail logo and if you hover your mouse over it, you’ll see the drop down options.
Once last tip. If you want to get the most out of the new Gmail UI, view it in Google’s own Chrome browser rather than your usual Firefox or IE. If you want complete control, add the “Minimalist Feature” from Chrome add-ons.
Dive into the new look and till next week, send your questions to: