How-to: So, You’re Still Not Loving the New Gmail App

Change is hard. Heck, someone even made a lot of money from high school seniors and college freshman selling a book about  cheese. Many Android lawyers are bemoaning the new Gmail app and its recent update.  If you’re one of the users forced to convert, you’re not alone.

You can see this post for some basics on navigating the new app. Now, here are some of the top complaints I’m seeing, and how to fix them:

Missing My Garbage Can

I wasn’t too happy with this design change, but I’ve really changed my mind. What I’ve found is that I don’t really use the trash can as much as my mind proclaimed. In fact, ever since Gmail introduced swipe to delete and notification reply or delete, these are my most commonly-used delete methods.

Just for an experiment, today I only deleted emails on my phone, rather than through Gmail in my browser. I was either far too aware of my test, or playing business as usual, because except for five messages, I swiped away or notification-deleted thirty-five other messages.

I used the garbage can to delete those other five messages. Remember, the garbage can’s still there for individual messages and threads.

Screenshot of a Single Email Message in Gmail 4.5

Additionally, you can select-en-masse, and then delete, a lot of messages by taping the colorful box with the capital letters.

Clicking a Color Allows You to Select Multiple Messages at Once

All Those Dumb, Colorful Boxes With the Capital Letter

The colorful boxes were hard to get used to; I’m still not loving them. They remain however, because I occasionally love seeing my friends’ smiling faces. Obviously, that means your friends must connect their Google accounts with their email addresses – simple enough.

If you’d rather not see the big, ugly letters (and disappoint your friends), removing the images is a simple button click.

Sender Image Gmail

Voila! The colorful boxes are gone.

That sure looks monochromatic and blah. You’ll find the checkbox under Menu > Settings > General settings > uncheck Sender image.

Be aware though, you’ll now have to long-press on an email to erase in bulk. Also, you still won’t be able to recover the garbage can.

Categories, Schmategories

hate Gmail’s new categories feature. They’re undeniably useless, unless you’re really into receiving a lot of emails updating you about your social networks, newsletters (minus The Droid Lawyer), and well, just about anything else.

Gmail now has 5, unchangeable categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums.

Gmail Categories

No, I’m not kidding. And yes, they’re worthless. You can tell Gmail really wants to get to know you.

But, fortunately you don’t have to live in an utter -useless-Gmail-category-hell. You can and probably should turn the categories off. Here’s how:

  1. Access Gmail from a desktop (or using “desktop view” from Chrome).
  2. Click the settings gear icon Gmail Gear Icon for Settings
  3. Click Configure inbox
  4. Uncheck all of the boxes
  5. Click Save

Done. No more annoying categories.

Unfortunately, Google, this was a dumb mistake. Maybe when they’re editable we can bring them back.

I Can’t Pull Email

This isn’t a big concern for me, since Gmail is quite good about pushing email to me the minute it arrive. But, if you’re an itchy email fetcher, you’ll be glad to know that an inbox refresh is a quick pull down. Scroll down the inbox and Gmail will check for new messages and refresh. Sweet.

Yes, getting used to Gmail will be like getting used to “New Coke” – hopefully not as painfully costly or leaving a bad taste.

I’ve been sipping the new Gmail Kool-Aid for two days now, and I love it. I’ve only modified a few of the settings, and pending a few more experiments with categories, I might even use those, sometimes and sparingly.

If you’re not loving it, then just think how many negative user experiences were mistakenly characterized as positive ones. Sheesh, that’s a lot of poorly placed marbles.

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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+.