How-to: Navigate the New Gmail App for Android

Friends from all over the good ole’ US of A are complaining and expressing their disdain for the new, updated Gmail app.

As you recall, rumors spread rampant about Gmail’s new, updated features, including tabs geared to organizing emails. Last week we got a glimpse of the new desktop version, and on Monday of this week, the app went live in Google Play.

The problem most people have, is the fact that Google changed some of the UI features, which causes problems for those of us who adored the earlier version.

First off, you’ll notice that Google removed the drop-down menu and replaced it with a slide-out sidebar.

This is where you’ll find links to the other Gmail folders. Personally, I like this new feature, since it feels more clean and unified with Google’s other apps, like Google+.

The next big change is the colorful way Gmail sorts emails by senders’ name.

Gmail Organization

Finally, you’ll probably notice that the delete function is conspicuously missing from the upper right hand menu.

Delete Button Missing from Gmail App

These changes aren’t much to worry about though, since Google’s already compensated for this problem.

First, remember awhile ago when Gmail introduced the swipe to delete feature? Gmail 4.5 utilizes this feature for quick delete. Sliding left to right, or right to left, will delete (or archive) a single email.

Swipe Left to Right or Right to Left to Delete an Email in Gmail 4.5

If you don’t have swipe to delete enabled, you can set that feature up in General settings in the Gmail menu (Menu Settings > General settings > Archive & delete actions). Note: the default swipe feature is Archive, which is completely useless for most people.

Change the option to “Show delete only.”

Sometimes, you want to delete more than one email at a time. So, Gmail allows you to click the colors on the left to select multiple email messages at the same time. Then, press the trash can to delete them in one single move.

Clicking a Color Allows You to Select Multiple Messages at Once

Basically, the only change here is the removal of the check boxes that were sometimes too difficult to click.

One other new feature you’ll notice is the ability to quickly mark emails as read or unread as you click them.

This is significantly easier to access.

Overall, I like the new design, but the new Gmail does take some getting used to. I’m not sold on the new categories feature, so I tend to disable that as much as possible.

Update (6/5/13)

Futurelawyer pointed out that he prefers to be able to delete emails as he reads each one. Don’t forget, on an individual email message, Gmail looks almost the same. And you’ll find all of the familiar tools up in the upper right hand corner.

If you decide you like the default swipe settings, remember, you’ll swipe left to delete and right to archive.

Android Police has this post on fixing an error with the delete button for some users.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.