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Show HN: Gmail Classic – CSS for Reverting Gmail's New Look (github.com)
226 points by andrew_ 63 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

I would rather have some CSS to make the basic HTML Gmail look like the classic Gmail. Adding CSS to the new Gmail doesn't make it any faster, which is my biggest problem with it. The basic HTML version runs really fast, but it could use a bit of CSS to make it look a bit nicer and add a little more whitespace (at least on my 4k monitor it's somewhat cramped).

Google is becoming really frustrating. I am trying to transition off inbox because they are killing it. The performance of the new gmail is miserable though.

I know this suggestion has been made a million times here by now, but you should really try a service like Fastmail! A few weeks back I began transitioning my data away from Google, and the performance and overall quality level of Fastmail really blew my mind. It's probably the best and fastest web app I've ever used.

The web app is so fast I find it satisfying to experience it being rendered at seemingly light speed on any device.

It’s really a joy to use.

Gmail search often doesn't even work for me anymore, I simply can't understand how decisions are made at this company.

Is there a way to migrate all your email and maintain your Gmail address indefinitely?

I've had Google search barely working for me recently. Searching for "55U5863DB input lag" - fire first result: "missing: lag", multiple other results: "missing: 55U5863DB". I've also searched for "Actor Name Game Name" recently (I forgot forget which), and the first few results all had "missing: Game NAme".

Searching for anything specific is becoming tedious.

I've used imapsync before (link below). You configure in your gmail credentials on one side and your new account on the other. You'll want to set up "device" password for it to avoid any 2fa/not a robot checks. It does take a while due to google rate limiting (think days). But once you get it started, you can just let it run.

imapsync homepage: https://imapsync.lamiral.info/

imapsync github gmail faq: https://github.com/imapsync/imapsync/blob/master/FAQ.d/FAQ.G...

If I remember correctly (maybe four years ago) I just downloaded all my email over IMAP using some desktop client then re-uploaded onto Fastmail. It's a one time hassle but definitely worth it, especially if I had known what I had to do yesterday. I sifted through 10 years worth of email looking for train and plane tickets and hotel bookings etc because I needed to know exactly which dates I crossed which borders .. anyway off topic, a huge pain of course, but an easy task on Fastmail, where as my laptop gets brought to its heels every time I have to open my gmail inbox.

Oh and you can set gmail to forward everything to your Fastmail. You can even have it land in a separate folder to keep it all neat.

Lately I've had issues sending from my gmail account on Fastmail, I think google changed their security practices a while ago..

Our migration tools have at times been fragile (I myself tried and failed to migrate from Gmail about a year before I ended up working at FastMail—something about a Gmail security change that broke it), but I believe that they’re all working properly at present. We have a guide for migrating from Gmail in our documentation: https://www.fastmail.com/help/account/gmailimport.html. We’re planning improvements to the procedures, too, to make it easy to use rather than merely possible!

Google takeout offers mailbox format, & address stays active as long as you log into once in few months..

Just enable pop3 access (at least temporarily), and get your other inbox to import all the mail. Then set up forwarding in gmail. That's it.

Is there some kind of "SaaS in a box" setup where I can just have all my web apps like mail, photos, storage, repos, etc hosted on AWS or something, in one place, under my control?

I find FastMail painfully slow. Particularly the mobile app. Long threads with tables and images will crash the app and make Undo unusable on desktop

I work on the FastMail frontend. I’d be interested to have more details, because we pride ourselves on living up to our name (fast!), and providing a robust service. If you have something you can share which concretely performs badly or exhibits such bugs as you describe, please send a test case to support@fastmail.com, asking for the ticket to be passed to me, Chris Morgan. If it’s particular emails that you want me to be able to check, put them in a folder named “forwebmaster” (so named at present for strange historical reasons) and mention that you’ve done so, otherwise I won’t be able to see them.

Observations I can make:

• For the mobile app especially, startup can be slow, but once it’s running there should be no performance issues. The app should never crash; what you describe sounds like it could be running out of memory, which would surprise me, because FastMail’s memory usage is habitually excellent (on Firefox on desktop, I tend to find a long-running FastMail session to use about 11MB only).

• If you have very large emails, the current interface renders them completely, which can be slow; in our upcoming JMAP-based interface, which we’ll be transitioning everyone over to in the near future, we truncate at 100KB by default, which I’ve definitely observed having a positive effect on performance on certain types of inordinately large (like 6MB cron job logs) or unreasonably-written emails (HTML for email is awful; if anyone ever asks you to craft an HTML email, run away).

• I know of no bugs in undo handling. If you know otherwise, please advise so that we can investigate and fix it.

> For the mobile app especially, startup can be slow

PLEASE fix this! "Startup" is basically "any time I click an e-mail notification". Having to wait 5-10 seconds to see the end of a one-sentence e-mail is incredibly frustrating! Every time I recommend FastMail to a friend I have to qualify it with a "but" because of this.

That said, I love the responsiveness of the web app. I wish all websites were that responsive. It is the reason I'm a customer of probably 5 years now. Keep up the good work!

I experience this pain also—I use comparatively cheap phones, currently a Samsung Galaxy J1 2016, and so the FastMail app is seldom running when I open it. Opening an email from a notification takes me 9–13 seconds in Australia, depending on various conditions. Partly in consequence but partly also due to my personality, I only use the app on my phone for the notifications (for which no startup is needed) or when I need access to my emails and am away from my laptop.

When we start using service workers, we’ll be able to load without any network round-trips, a quick measurement of which suggests about four seconds saved for me in Australia (high latency, remember—for people in the US, the saving will be closer to a second and a half), so the nine seconds is hopefully then down to about five, five that we can subsequently work on optimising more aggressively, once the biggest obstruction (the network) is removed.

But all of this will take time to make happen. In the mean time, thanks for recommending FastMail to people with the caveat: I agree wholeheartedly with you on it!

Sorry for hijacking the thread, but since we've got you here:

I'm a happy FastMail user with two separate accounts (one personal and one for business). With the latter, I run into a following issue: there's no proper way to specify a tax ID number, in order to get an invoice that's valid in my country. I run that by your support last month, they generated me a new invoice manually (this one had boxes instead of non-ASCII characters, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), but it seems I'll have to resubmit a ticket each month to get the invoice. Is there something both me & the support team is missing? Is there a chance for a "tax ID" field in billing info UI?

Sorry I neglected to answer this earlier. We have a task in our internal tracker about this, for VAT at least.

Thanks for the reply.

I need the same number for VAT and income tax, so solving the former would help me with the latter as well.

Happy Fastmail user here. Thank you for providing a quality service!

If it had "snooze" I'd give it a shot. I don't want to run client software or third party extensions.

How's the search and spam filtering?

Spam filtering is alright (at least for me it's similar to Gmail), search has issues if you don't put the exact term I found, I don't like it that much. Fortunately, you can search with a lot of criteria and usually I find what I want.

For clarity: search does stemming (so “work” will find “works” and “working” as well), but it doesn’t try to match synonyms or related words (so “laptop” won’t find “notebook”).

Seconding this. I love that they don’t harass you to download their app when you open it on your phone browser.

I'll make it a million and one. Moved from gmail to fastmail a year ago, cant recommend it enough

I wish I could, be the business I work for is on G Suite.

You can use a proper (local) client though, can't you?

I will desperately miss the clean inbox paradigm when Inbox goes. I am struggling to go back to the old way of managing my email with no done button and poorly configured categories. I feel like I have to do it now or I won't adjust in time for Inbox being sunsetted early next year.

I'm a bit curious, what features are missing?

The done button is the archive button in normal Gmail, and I think the new Gmail has the magical categories, although I don't use them.

If you're using bundles, that's the one big feature that isn't ported, but it doesn't immidiately sound like you are.

> The done button is the archive button

True, but the point of Inbox was to treat your email like a todo list. By definition, it is the same, but training millions of Inbox users that this is new behavior makes it hard to grok.

> If you're using bundles, that's the one big feature that isn't ported, but it doesn't immidiately sound like you are.

Every Inbox is probably using bundles whether they remember or not. It becomes incredibly powerful when you have a trip coming up and your flight, hotel, rental car, etc. is all bundled up together.

The other feature I'm going to miss is reminders. Now I'll have to start emailing stuff to myself again, which is quite a few more steps.

(Unless of course I'm missing something, in which case I hope someone here corrects me.)

Gmail has smart reminders, or maybe I dont understand. I rely on gmail important filter. If I sent an email but there isn't a response back after like 4/5 days gmail puts a reminder into my important section. It's super helpful because I have a hard time remembering the smaller things.

I don't think that's what I'm looking for. I want to enter reminders that don't necessarily arise from an email. For example, if I'm asked in the morning to get some groceries, I'd set a reminder in Inbox about that that would arise at the end of my work day.

Now in Gmail, as far as I'm aware, I'd have to email that reminder to myself, and then snooze that email until the end of my workday.

Had a look at the Tasks integration built into GMail now? Essentially the same as reminders. Add a due date and they function the same as reminders - across google calendar as well. On the phone there’s the Tasks app. Works pretty well IMHO, especially having the option to drag an email into a task.

I've been using https://www.followupthen.com/ for this sort of thing

Hmm, that looks nice, but not necessarily faster than snoozing an email I sent to myself when already in my email interface...

It should be (slightly) faster, since you don't need to interact with the email a second time -- instead of writing an email to yourself, write it to 5pm@fut.io and it'll get sent back to you at that time.

Ah, it can work that way as well? That is indeed slightly faster - I'll consider it if Gmail doesn't have Reminders by the time I'm forced to leave Inbox.

Recurring reminders. Can't do that with emailing stuff to yourself.

Bundles for me. I get so much mailing list and advertising spam that my personal Gmail is almost unusable without bundles

Bundles is the big one. Whenever I log in to normal Gmail now instead of Inbox I immediately get put off and reminded I really need an alternative to Gmail that won't let Google mess with my email interface any more.

I recently made the transition and it wasn’t that bad. My brain adjusted to hitting archive instead of done. And the gmail app archives when you swipe right. The categories needed a little manual adjusting, but works good enough after the tweaking

You can actually even customize what the right and left swipes do. I have left for mark as read and right for archive.

The new gmail is also buggy.

1. Items will randomly not open and I need to force refresh the page to open a particular email.

2. Search sometimes returns 0 results and clicking on search again seems to work.

I already manage most of my e-mail via filters and just my plain old Mail.app. My current plan is to go back to Thunderbird honestly for my Desktop OS needs.

This would be a great option. Maybe Google could get on that, but they're more likely to axe the basic Html version considering their latest trends.

I shudder to think it! And shudder again at the 70% likelihood you are prescient with your comment

For the first time in many years I've stumbled upon a word I have never ever heard before, not in a movie, not in any literature, nowhere. Thank you.

It seems HN has utility after all.

> not in any literature

It would seem you are way over due as far as reading Frank Herbert’s Dune-series goes.

A bit off-topic, but Dune also gave us this magnificent quote:

> I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

- Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.

Funny, that happened to me this week as well. With the same word!

Good ol' Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Was it him again?

Happy to share and partake in the natural refulgence of the variegated English language with you.

I like you're speak.

But what does it mean, to shudder?

Shuddering is an involuntary convulsion that typically occurs when something is unconscionable or otherwise triggers a physionomic reaction that cannot be helped [meaning, it happens autonomously, of its own accord, based on the immediately preceding data]. You can't really shudder someone, it doesn't make any sense as a transitive verb, and yet the idiomatic usage in English has landed on "I shudder to X" where X is a thinking-pondering-considering verb such as "I shudder to think." or "I shudder at the prospect of his presidency" it's usually used to denote a non-positive feeling with the topic matter and when people actually shudder in real life, we do so with a sound exclamation under our breath such as "euuu" as your shoulders, arms, and potentially more gently vibrates or wiggles to indicate the effect being felt and received.

Human bodies shudder, and we typically denote body with "I" but it is a distinction between thinking self and bodily self, this shudder idea, because we typically don't use things such as "I was shuddering all night x" that's just weird and would make someone think you experienced a seizing episode. Not sure how this made it into English. In unrelated matters of similar linguistic domain, the Japanese have an expression "made my stomach stand" which is an expression to indicate "anger arose" ... not sure how that came to be either!

Here it is used in a somewhat popular song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oQ8sNSYXmQ

Reminds me of Helvetimail - I wonder if it still exists somewhere and works with basic HTML gmail?


Edit: found the original CSS on archive.org: https://web.archive.org/web/20110817055720/http://www.josefr...

This is the latest copy I could find --


Sadly, it doesn't work. The CSS used for the simple Gmail is remarkably minimal to a fault for folks like us.

edit: here's an extremely basic Dracula theme you can use with Stylish. As a disclaimer, this is roughly ten minutes worth of work -- I don't doubt that I missed the other 80%.

https://pastebin.com/raw/srPD5E5Z and literally the invert of that https://pastebin.com/raw/enmLB3Wz

It's definitely not pretty, but with a little time it wouldn't be too difficult to spruce it up.

I can't edit my comment, but if you're interested in trying out a Dracula theme, check out https://github.com/hello-party/Gmail-Basic-HTML-Dracula

Its still not perfect, but it does show potential for better themes for the basic HTML.

Basic Html version is here by the way, everyone: https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html&zy=h

Its really really fast.

I'm using it all the time now, and only dropping back into 'standard' mode if I need to do fancy formatting - which is rare

Seeing how slow the Standard view is, I'd pay good money for such a CSS theme.

It's interesting how back when programs actually ran on your machine, you could just use an older version. I knew people who never upgraded Winamp. Today we do know this is problematic (due to security updates mostly) but when it comes to web applications we don't have a choice. Don't like the new look, well tough.

If the application has an API (like Reddit) you could write your own or use a better client. I could say that about Gmail/IMAP but their IMAP implementation is shitty and broken.

I moved entirely off gmail to self hosted in 2012 and I'm glad I did so I don't have to deal with their interface. When I need webmail, I've got roundcube and it's still nice and fast.

What precisely is shitty and broken about gmail's IMAP implementation?

Gmail's IMAP implementation implements three RFCs I wrote; I haven't noticed anything wrong in those areas. Are my RFCs unusual or am I overlooking something?

I'm curious if you've actually used an IMAP client witha Gmail account; if so, which one(s).

A sibling comment has already mentioned the folder/flags mixup issue, but while it sounds like one small feature, that one thing is so fundamentally broken that I really can't see how any user of Gmail IMAP would overlook it.

I get duplicate notifications for the same mail in INBOX and [Gmail]/All Mail and actions on one copy don't affect the other unless clients implement Gmail-specific hacks (which many/most do).

What RFCs are you referring to?

I use Mail on OS X. I've never had any problems with Gmail. Folders work fine. I never use flags. Notifications work fine. When I delete a message, it's gone. Sometimes it takes a while for the deletion to propagate from one device to another, but I've never had a message survive deletion long term.

I also use Mail on OSX and you're right, it does have excellent Gmail support. This is definitely down to Apple putting in the work to support Gmail though, rather than Mail simply using IMAP as usual and Gmail working like any other IMAP server would.

The gp was talking about RFCs and the IMAP protocol implementation itself, so I was talking about the Gmail server at the protocol level, rather than user interface.

IMAP drafts have never worked and still doesn't work. You have to use local drafts as a workaround if you don’t want to end up with many drafts for a single mail in progress …

In addition, many Gmail features, especially security-related features, don't work with Mail.app.

> if you don’t want to end up with many drafts for a single mail in progress

That is absolutely a problem I've had with Mail and Gmail. No idea how I fixed it. Or whether it's been fixed at all. But for some reason, drafts turned up in searches, which made searching through my mail an incredibly painful experience. Search is fine now, though. Maybe I turned IMAP drafts off; I really don't know.

I intended to ask about actual IMAP bugs. Things that go against the RFCs.

Showing the gmail labels as flags would be legal by the protocol (and have some disadvantages), showing them as mailboxes also legal (and have some other disadvantages), so I don't count that as a bug, it's merely a situation where one has to choose disadvantages.

The duplicate notifications are different; the way IMAP is designed the server cannot know which TCP connections originate from the same client. It can guess based on IP address and some other things, and it can know something based on RFC 2971, but 2971 also says explicitly that the server shouldn't do anyhting differently based on that. Which has been discussed in one of the IETF WGs, and the consensus was that the server isn't permitted to suppress probably superfluous notifications. If a client opens two connections, getting rid of duplicate notifications is the client's job.

www.rfc-editor.org/search/rfc_search_detail.php?author=gulbrandsen are my RFCs; I actually wrote most of those and gmail implements four of the IMAP-related ones I've written.

> I don't count that as a bug, it's merely a situation where one has to choose disadvantages.

There's no line in the IMAP spec. that very explicitly states "each mail MUST exist in exactly one folder", so you can certainly argue that Gmail technically follows the spec. but the only reason that line doesn't exist is because doing otherwise is so non-sensical as to not have been considered as a possibility. It does for example contain the following line, which Gmail does not follow: "permits manipulation of mailboxes (remote message folders) in a way that is functionally equivalent to local folders", but the fact that line is simply in the abstract and contains no MUST means one can argue it's not prescriptive.

There may be disadvantages to using flags instead of mailboxes, but equating their disadvantages is reverse hyperbole. If there was any equivalence, you wouldn't have every major client containing a rake of Gmail-specific code to work around the issue.

I don't see the phrase "MUST exist" anywhere in 3501? I see the word "exactly" in two sentences, neither of which appears to be the one you mean. Can you provide a reference?

I don't want to argue about the disadvantages of flags vs. mailboxes. It's a valid subject but I don't want a subject change.

That was stupid. Should not post while in a noisy environment.

I used Thunderbird and am still using Airmail and they're working without issues for me. Faster, more responsive and better UI than any web crap.

I've never used Airmail, but the Thunderbird guys have put a lot of years[0] of work into specifically supporting Gmail's weirdness. It's still not as polished as something like macOS Mail (see commenter above)—you can still run into pitfalls syncing all folders/"labels" with special names, or moving emails from one folder/"label" to another, but it works ok.

[0] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/showdependencytree.cgi?id=40279...

I try using pine here and there. Every time I try, whenever I attempt sending a mail it locks my account for suspicious activity

Same thing happens with my phone (using the K9 email client) whenever I get or send email over a cellular connection.

I use the windows Mail application and Gmail seems to work well in that.

Not the GP poster, but the most frustrating thing for me is that GMail labels are implemented as IMAP mailboxes instead of IMAP flags.

You might be more frustrated if they'd done it the other way; IMAP clients have a terrible habit of downloading the entire mailbox. If they were to expose all mail in one mailbox with flags as the usual case, users with such clients and a lot of mail would suffer.

I'm sure that's true, but I assume that many of these clients either wouldn't have been written this way or would have adapted by now if Gmail did things differently.

Possible. But until those changes are done and deployed, users on mobile connections would do gigabyte-sized downloads and Google's servers would suffer. If a lot of clients do SELECT * FROM *, the DBA will complain a lot until it stops, one way or another.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches; it must have been a nasty choice to make.

Sure, can't argue with that :)

> What precisely is shitty and broken about gmail's IMAP implementation?

Sent emails for one.

I’ve written various email integration components and have to make special safe-guards for Gmail-specific crap.

Yes! I'm using WinAmp 2.95 right now! I run it through Wine and it works perfectly on my Linux PC and my MBP running Mojave. I make it a point to use native apps (which I lump Wine into, since it's not running in the browser) these days.

I'm deeply skeptical of the cloud. The whole point seems to be to get us to rent the things we used to own. And if we're not paying the rental fees out of our wallet, then we're paying with our personal data instead.

XMMS 2 or Audacious or Beep, all work well as WinAmp replacements — provided one doesn't rely on WinAmp-specific plugins which are the joy of WinAmp.

Yeah, that's my issue. I rely on multiple WinAmp-specific plugins for which no replacements (that I'm aware of) exist.

If WinAMP still had support, you could still run it. This is why apps like QMMP exist. I use it to listen to my music because I manage my own playlists and prefer the way it works. On the web, the same thing is possible. My public library's search interface is old, but it's still maintained and I hope it doesn't get this "next level" Gmail-type upgrade. These big upgrades end up rewriting some of the biggest leverage points in the software, so it's as if you went back to the software store and bought a completely different title, in a way. I wish more people could understand that "upgrade" thinking needs more nuance. We lose a lot of value in all of these wasteful efforts to upgrade.

> If WinAMP still had support

A company bought Winamp and is supporting/developing it again. A version supporting Windows 10 "leaked" just a few weeks ago.


It works with wine just fine

> I could say that about Gmail/IMAP but their IMAP implementation is shitty and broken.

I believe the words you are looking for are “embrace” and “extend”.

And with undo and DRM in latest Gmail, we might as well add “extinguish”.

For those who wonder what “DRM in latest Gmail” means: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/20/not-actually-confidential....

I've been using gmail mostly via IMAP for at least a decade and didn't notice any trouble. The only unusual things that I could notice is that gmail has labels, not folders, and some folders live in [Gmail], but otherwise I didn't see any serious trouble there.

Same here. I use Thunderbird via IMAP and gmail hasn't slowed down at all in the last 10 years since I've been using it. I don't use their webmail interface or gmail branded mobile app either. Email is email. Use an actual email client.

I still do run most programs on my own computer; I think is better. Often I write my own.

For email, I run my own server and I like Heirloom-mailx as the user program (I find it much better than Outlook), although you can also use others if you like to do.

I can handle the new design, but on my (albeit underpowered) Chromebook, new Gmail takes ~30 seconds from initial page load to starting a reply to a thread. This is not progress.

I have a new MacBook Pro, and while it doesn't take 30 seconds, there's still a ridicules slow load time for Gmail now. If you live in Gmail all day it may be completely fine, but if you just check your emails every now and then during the day, it's pretty frustrating.

You almost get the feeling that something is broken when you load Gmail at this point. The Gmail interface is... fine I suppose, but I'd much prefer a native client. Sadly the best you can hope for these days is Apple Mail, and that's also just "fine".

Fastmail web interface is pretty darn snappy

> Sadly the best you can hope for these days is Apple Mail, and that's also just "fine".

Ever tried Mailmate?

“Fine” from a performance standpoint, or a UI one?

I don’t use emails much on my MBP (2016), but I had to send one today. I loaded up gmail, waited a bit for it to load, then clicked ‘compose’ only for the interface to show ‘something is wrong’ in various places.

In the end I just setup email in the Mac email client.

This was in the latest Firefox, and I know chrome is supposed to perform better for gmail, but writing an email on a 3 year old laptop shouldn’t be a big issue, but here we are.

It messes up the browser cache somehow. It's happening 4-5 times per day for me if I check the e-mail often.

You can press Command+Shift+R to force reload and it works fine afterwards.

Also, running GMail in Firefox (on MBP) makes Firefox consume 100% of a single CPU core very often. But if I open developer tools to track down the source of the problem, it stops consuming 100%.

Well, at least they stop me from checking e-mail too often. I used to check e-mail like 5-6 times per hour before. Now I do it 2-3 times per day and I feel like it increased my productivity on stuff that actually matters. So, it isn't all that bad ;)

You can load gmail is basic html mode, it might help.

According to https://support.google.com/mail/answer/15049?hl=en, the following link should set it to basic html mode (I haven't tested it) https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/1pq68r75kzvdr/?v%3Dlui

I've used the basic html mode before when the normal (js heavy) one was a bit slow, and it ended up being much faster even if every action requires a whole new page request/render.

I thought the whole idea of JavaScript-heavy frontends was to make things faster. A rhetorical question: How is it that Google is somehow a leader in frontend technology and design when they often don't practice what they preach?

I'm sure it achieves that when you use Chrome on a recent developer workstation and only have one tab running. There is a nice JIT in the browser, plenty of RAM, and lots of high-end cores available for the task.

Today I'm struggling with 8 GiB of RAM and 2 cores. Admittedly I have many tabs open, but that is to be expected. Web site creators might believe that the world revolves around their web site, but really it does not, and so they must share my machine.

Weaker systems are of course unusable. Suppose the hardware is a 32-bit PowerPC Mac with one core and 512 MiB of RAM, and there are a bunch of tabs open to similarly taxing web sites or worse. I've mostly had to retire a system like this, which makes me really annoyed because it is quiet due to being fanless.

Note that the "weaker system" described above is not really weak. Long ago, I used the old gmail just fine with far less. There was a time when 32 MiB of RAM was enough to open several browser windows (we didn't have tabs) and run them. JIT didn't even exist yet, but the web ran fine.

It's the usual problem I think: software developers are rewarded with high-end developer workstations to keep them happy and productive, and then they test the software all by itself on this high-end hardware and everything looks good. Nobody is testing on older low-end hardware with lots of other things running in the background.

To be fair, my developer workstation has a fuckton of things running in the background.

They pretty much started it. Google maps was probably the first real attempt at a “single page application” written in JavaScript. Everything else at the time trying to do the same thing was java/activex. Chrome also pushed JavaScript speed so much it enabled doing much more complex things with it. They’ve just become a much bigger company since thenwhich makes being “nimble” a lot harder.

I imagine their metrics are based on what's faster for their servers rather than the user. It's the only explanation.

Thanks, that does load a whole lot faster. I feel like I'm using old Yahoo! mail again :P

3 seconds to load interface, almost instant transitions to mail and reply. Windows, Google Chrome.

15 seconds to load interface, 5 seconds to mail and reply. Mac, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, 22MB/s download/upload, 2.9Ghz cpu running nothing else.

Is it the same speed in Guest Mode (no extensions)?

The only extensions I have are my password manager, an RSS feed manager, Vue.js dev tools, and Reddit Enhancement Suite, none of which should impact loading times on gmail.

I'm not familiar with those particular extensions, but if this is your general reaction based on how heavyweight you think an extension is, you may be in for a surprise. An extension (like a password manager) loading something like jQuery for every iframe easily slows down a site like Gmail by a few seconds. Instead of guessing, I recommend using the Performance tab of the browser console (click the "Start Profiling and Reload Page" button) along with the call tree (group by subdomain) to see where most of the time is being spent.

Also, Guest & Incognito seem to be intrinsically faster for some reason even compared to an entirely fresh profile, so you may want to compare against an empty profile instead.

I suspect this has more to do with network speed than platform or browser time spent parsing / executing js.

You should disclose the fact you work for Google beforehand because you blaming the issue on something else looks bad for Google.

Ah yes, sorry, to be clear I wasn’t attempting to shift any blame to a network provider, just remarking that the OP might be experiencing faster load times on the same browser / OS because of network conditions. And, network conditions aren’t entirely outside of Google’s control either- the size of the payload and where it is served from have massive effects on that. I am speculating about the cause of the relatively faster data point I was responding to.

I do work for Google as a web engineer, but not on Gmail and have no insider insight on gmail speed.

I'm on gigabit fiber and it's still slow as molasses

That’s not being fair to the molasses.

GMail is incredibly slow on every browser that isn't Chrome.

I have gigabit internet and I can assure you it's not a bandwidth problem.

Watching what's going on onscreen, for me, it appears to be Hangouts blocking functionality until it finishes loading, and Hangouts takes the longest of anything else.

No, takes a ridiculously long time on my school's network, which is blazing fast. It's limited by my laptops cpu and ram, which is maxed the whole time it's loading

I'm on a 2 year old MacBook Pro.

Gmail will completely freeze for ~10-15 seconds while performing a search.

What on earth are you doing with your Chromebook? I'm typing this on an almost 5-year old Acer C720, one of the most basic Chromebook models ever produced, and it can go from closed-lib hibernating to Gmail up and replying to a message in little more than five seconds.

Nothing special, just a few tabs and Termux open. 30 ms ping time to gmail.com.

I present an Open Source, versioned, linted set of CSS rules for reverting Gmail to the theme that was so forcefully taken away from us. Change is hard, and sometimes change rubs like coarse sandpaper. I wasn't and still am not a fan of the new design, so I put this together after not finding a well-rounded complete solution. And that's what this aims to be. There are surely quirks that haven't been adjusted, and if you see some, please open an Issue (preferably with a screenshot) so this can be improved.

Do you have a screenshot?

There's a fair bit of obscure CSS here; how long has it been working for? I would guess the autogenerated class names change from time to time.

I've uploaded a screenshot here: https://imgur.com/VaNpYhq. And I'll be updating the README in a few with a screenshot.

I've been plugging at this set of CSS for about a month now. And you'd think the classNames would change, but they're nearly identical to the old. Very few changes between the old look and the new. Speculating, I'd say that Google killed the old, classic theme so they didn't have to maintain CSS for new features.

Making it a standalone chrome extension might be helpful, then your css changes over time will auto-update.

Edit: I went ahead and made one, did a quick test by loading it unpacked, seems to work. https://github.com/tyingq/gmail-classic All yours if you want it.

Really appreciate it! I'll definitely use that. Will get that up on the Chrome Web Store this evening.

Oh, man, I want this for Firefox.

It may just work. The differences in extensions are pretty minor: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Add-ons/Web...

To me, Gmail Classic is this original look: https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/priority1....

I loved the "Original Classic". Every update since has worsened the look & feel.

When Steve Jobs passed away, the whole software industry took a gigantic step backwards in design. There are lots of great designers in the world (have a look at https://dribbble.com/ ) but the people who hire designers often can't tell a great designer from a mediocre one, and that's how we end up with the not-so-great design of the current generation of software, including those from Google and even Apple.

Stop it, you're making me nostalgic :(

But you're totally right -- the use of color to clearly separate areas instead of white everywhere? Buttons with clear text instead of inscrutable gray icons? "Compact" lists that show your info instead of a whitespace fetishization?

I miss the old days...

Same here! I've never understand the unclear, indistinguishable UI design trend, what a big step backward...

Wow. Actual black text on light background. Compact, readable, high contrast. I wish we could have designs like that instead of this modern grey text on grey background garbage.

Steve also had his hand in plenty of awful design decisions with the skeuomorphic turn OSX took [0] being one of them.

[0] https://www.fastcompany.com/1670760/will-apples-tacky-softwa...

I see skeuomorphism as an excellent idea.

The human mind is built to build models... We are constantly building models of the world and predicting how that world will work. When you have a digital world that has no rules where every time you do something it behaves in a new and different way it's surprising... and it is also really stressful. Your mind can't build any models. That makes it hard. Everything is an adventure. But when you are trying to get something done you don't want an adventure, right? We want things to behave in a predictable way. It'd be like, sometimes I put something on the table it doesn't sit there, it flies up to the ceiling.

Skeuomorphic design helps users make mental models. The above paragraph is actually a from Google talk on Material Design! They understood the theory well, but their implementation is lacking.

You might like the book "The design of everyday things" if you haven't read it already.

I find bauhaus design and understanding affordances etc much more interesting than abstract and non functional design.

As another note, usability testing with irregular computer users with a skeuomorphic design vs a "flat UI" produces such crazy results in favour of skeuomorphism.

Gmail Simple Html Mode still looks somewhat like that, and is blisteringly fast


I think of "Gmail Classic" as what they call "Basic HTML". https://support.google.com/mail/answer/15049?ctx=gmail (click Basic HTML version of Gmail). I've been using that style for years.

My problem isn't with the design, but with the fact that it's blocking every step of the way and being a buggy crap that not even the beta was.

Has anybody noticed the new Gmail feels way less responsive as well? Composing a new email is affected (just hold down a key with a fast repeat speed and it will not update for long periods), but also the prelight when hovering the mouse over messages an an index is way more chunky than it used to be. "perf top" shows some Chrome functions responsible -- probably something resulting in too much recalculation?

Amusingly, it is way smoother in Firefox. Related, can paste large amounts of data in sheets with Firefox, but Chrome grinds and hits some O(n^2) type of issue after so many rows.

I don't have a problem with the new design, it looks pretty much the same as the old one


Forcing new and slow look forced me to move away from Gmail to private mail and Roundcube, works fine and fast.

Impressive. Personally I preferred the version before this, in which Compose wasn’t “pay-attention-to-me red”.

I have a hard time understanding that one.

When I want to compose, I look for a normal button in a normal place. I can't get used to a red button. My mind filters it out, like an ad. I pretty much don't see it. Every time, there is a sort of disoriented and bewildered search to find a compose button.

Was it supposed to have the opposite effect?

I'm sure a lot of A/B testing has gone into the changes a lot of others are complaining about.

Given GMail's mix of users, a subset of whom are probably power users that are open to 'discoverable' features, would it not be sensible for GMail to allow an option, an option that a vocal minority of power users do seemingly want, to be selected and allow these users to retain these features they were used to. Adding 3rd party hacks doesn't seem optimal.

A/B testing is like voting: It results in dissatisfaction for an often large proportion of those affected. Using techniques like multivoting that don't result in a single answer for everyone just seems like a better idea given these audiences are sufficiently large enough to support.

Now that Inbox is ending, anyone know of other clients with the Pinning and snoozing capability?

Gmail now has snoozing, you could probably use stars and filters to get 95% of the way to pinning.

Was just implementing some email features on our application and we noticed that what we call "Friendly Reply To" doesn't work in desktop gmail. Setting the Reply-to field to "John Doe <john.doe@gmail.com>" won't show "John Doe" in the to section when you click reply. It will show "john.doe@gmail.com". What's odd is that google inbox, and gmail for android and iOS both will show "John Doe".

Bug? Or opinion by Google?

Maybe it’s more of a security feature? What if phishing emails had a bogus email for the Reply-To name, E.g., “service@paypal.com <hacker@evil.com>”

That was my first thought, but if that's the case, then why is it implemented in the mobile apps?

Different people implementing them?

I didn't realize how bad the gmail interface has become until I had to help some relatives with their accounts. I use gmail with a client (claws mail, formerly sylpheed) since day one when it was invite only, and never had an issue. That's like 13 years. To me being forced to use the web interface -including the much better old one- would be a huge step backwards; there's simply no contest on what's more powerful and fast to use.

Nice I thought about doing something similar, to at least make borders between things stand out better.

Some screenshots in the reader would be nice.

I'll have a screenshot up shortly :)

this is cool and all but what’s the point. it will bit rot soon enough, despite current laudable intentions.

the only way to signal to google that they are making the wrong choice is to stop using the web UI, not to skin it. eg with the recent Chrome signin gaffe lots of people switched to FF and google had to react.

If there were no options I’d be more generous but there are plenty of mail clients one can switch to. plenty.

Can we go even further with this CSS? I'm talking like about 2006 without javascript and stuff.

Just use Gmail Basic Html mode: https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html&zy=h

Thank you for this. Now, all we need is to bring back the View Image button in Google image search.

I have this, but the recent UI refresh broke it.


My experience is anecdotal of course but what is broken about it for you?

It is working fine for me on Firefox 63.0.3 (64-bit) using ViewImage 2.1

Likely you are not on "new UI" yet, just like the dev of this extension.

(Myself don't even know there will be a new UI either.)

That makes a lot of sense. I forgot about the A/B testing Google does. Edit: I noticed that Chrome defaults to using the new design even while logged in.

Logged in on Firefox though I’m not seeing the new design . Not sure if that helps anyone having trouble with the extension.


Naming might be a problem, however. Companies get litigious when you use their trademarks/brand, even when modifying things on the client side.

Slack came after an HN user for using "Slack" in their GitHub repo that hosted a client-side script for Slack.

Does google offer sufficient mail API's to be able to write ones own frontend?

If the storage, searching and tagging of mail are all handled by the backend, building the web frontend seems like it could be 'hobby project' sized.

The old terminal theme was great. Wish they new one had the same amount of effort put into it.

really appreciate this, but i really hoped google would bring the old interface back..new one is so slow and not very user friendly... this is the first time in a very long time I've though...wow i need a different email provider.

I migrated to mu offlineimap, emacs and mu4e for my gmail. I'm quite satisfied.

Actually I like the UI of the first version of Gmail web better.

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