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Simplify Gmail: Bringing the Simplicity of Google Inbox to Gmail (simpl.fyi)
204 points by gmcabrita on Apr 2, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments



I notice a lot of people comment on what they miss from Inbox, and I am very surprised to see that no one has mentioned the reminders. For me, this was the killer feature and the one feature I will miss from Inbox. Being able to combine my email and reminders in the same convenient interface was simply fantastic.

I've now settled on ticktick for handling my reminders, after testing the Google tasks stuff, Todoist, Any.do, and more. It works well, but does not feel nowhere near as smooth as Inbox.


As a replacement for reminders I've been emailing myself and then using the snooze feature to hide it until later. It works but adds extra friction to creating the reminder and is very clunky.

I'd love it if someone could create a Gmail add-on which gets us closer to the ease of use of Inbox reminders.


Reminders, bundles, UI and travel features were great.

Never had my inbox so clean, before.


Reminders still exist on Google Calendar, in both the browser and Android apps. They even appear as notifications on my phone at the scheduled time.


It's the one thing I keep coming back to as well: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19554475

Reminders among emails just makes a lot of sense. I'm going to miss them.


Another convenient feature I use is to schedule reminders via the Google Voice Assistant (e.g. remind me to buy toilet paper tomorrow morning) and it popped up in the Inbox. Nowadays, I manage those reminders via the Google calender - all pending reminders are merged into one entry at the current day - it's not very convenient and I hope so much GMail will add this feature soon.


You can do reminders in gmail too, just click on the clock icon. You can also schedule send your email now which is pretty cool https://storage.googleapis.com/gweb-uniblog-publish-prod/ori...


I think you're conflating snoozing with reminders. Snoozing allows you to hide emails until a later moment in time, whereas reminders allows you to add arbitrary items to your inbox (e.g. "Visit dentist") which you can then also snooze until the appropriate moment. The experience might be replicated by sending an email to yourself and snoozing that, but that involves far more friction.


What made you choose tick tick over Todoist?


I basically just want a simple app to schedule reminders at given times. I need to add recurring reminders as well.

I liked the simplicity and UI of Todoist, but I had to pay to get the reminder feature. I don't mind paying, but I had no way of testing the feature first.

The main thing that I miss from Inbox (except having everything at the same place) is for the reminders to only show up on the specified time. Ticktick, as many todo apps (all that I've tested) will show me all reminders for a given day.


I just went back to sending email to myself -- it's pathetic.


Gmail is releasing a feature in a couple weeks to let you schedule outbound emails. This seems like the perfect reminder system.


and yet, having notifications from Keep visible not only on smartphone's push, but actually in mail list, was so useful. I like Keep and unless it's going to be killed like Inbox I'm not switching back to mailing myself, or other less convenient UI of alternatives.


The two main things I miss from Inbox:

- The "Trips" feature... so easily you could see your flight details, your hotel details... vs. having to search your email box and having to go through emails upon emails

- The image previews! I do some artwork for my job, and it was SUCH a boon to see the images right there. You could actually click one of them, and preview all the images from an email conversation in a carousel fashion

Any ideas how I may be able to get this in Gmail somehow?


> - The "Trips" feature... so easily you could see your flight details, your hotel details... vs. having to search your email box and having to go through emails upon emails

I'm not sure if they extracted it to a dedicated app or if the app was already there and Inbox integrated it, but Google Trips is exactly that.


The difference though, Trips app doesn't really allow to manually handle linked stuff. In Inbox you could have moved an email with a PNR from one trip bundle to another and it automatically changed those bundles, as well as bundles in Trips app.


omg thanks for sharing, never heard of this app before! I travel fairly regularly and having a place with all my flights is just a godsend that I missed from Inbox!


Oh yes the trips-feature! For me Inbox was the perfect email client. Felt much more organized and clean. The only thing missing was to attach images directly from Google Photos (although I think they had it for some time?!).


On Android I think Google has Google Trips app, which gets data from GMail emails you receive & google search you do.


This exists on iOS as well.


I am going to miss Inbox but sometimes it would pick an image for a bundle and show it prominently forever. It was not always an image I wanted to see all the time.


You can still get the old categories from Inbox (without the bundles) using the following Gmail labels:

label:trips

label:finance

label:purchases

label:social

label:updates

label:forums

label:promos

is:pinned


Ahh thanks!

I think you can recreate the "bundle" feature almost by using something like "label:promos in:inbox" to see all the promo labeled emails in your inbox. Then you archive them all at once.

Also the search options are reflected in the url, so can setup links for for the various labels.


The biggest feature for me was bundles (which unfortunately this extension does not have). I could create a bundle for a subscription service or a listerv or just school updates from certain people and it wouldn't clutter my inbox (had around 20 entries all the time even during the busiest seasons). Was incredibly good for sites like Monster when I was looking for jobs. It wouldn't clutter my inbox but when I wanted to apply I could just go through the bundles. Genius design really. Wish it came to Gmail now that Inbox is dead.


I never used Inbox as I never had a problem with Gmail, but how were 'bundles' different from creating labels and logical filters that skip certain categories of message past the inbox? Was it just that 'bundles' were more intuitive and obvious to set up, or was there something that made them more than a label plus one or more filters?


Yes if you look at the basic concept it is filters and labels on steroids. However there were some key differences which really made a world of a difference (to me). As previously mentioned, the bundle was inline and was basically a larger message entity. It jumped to the top of your inbox when you received a new message (or you could pin it, another feature that isn't available in gmail sigh). The bundle included a preview for all attachments in chronological order (left -> right) which made it extremely easy to find the latest attachments. In addition, Inbox provided some default bundles that worked well and were actually very useful (trips, purchases, finance), not to mention the additional info boxes that summarized the information for these basic emails like flights, receipts, and package delivery.

Really though if you've never used Inbox it's hard to explain why people loved it so much. IMO it was the email client of the future. There were just these small details that Inbox provided that made the email experience so much easier and organized. My heart is broken knowing that I won't be able to use it anymore.


> how were 'bundles' different from creating labels and logical filters that skip certain categories of message past the inbox?

You didn't need to have them skip the inbox, and instead had one "entry" in the inbox, that entered into the bundles rather than one specific email.

It's not functionnaly too different, but it worked very well with Inbox's permises of "your entire email workload in a single glance" and "let us sort it out for you without you needing to remember to go looking" (eg: if you have one for monster when job searching like the other comment says, you need to remember to go and check your label when job searching, but not do when not job searching, whereas the bundle is there if need be and that's it ... now multiply by 20 different bundles covering everything)


Bundles were easy to setup and have a special relationship with the inbox. Now on gmail you can have labels for a bundle but it will show you all the emails in that label (inbox or no).

You can then further make the search "label:foo in:inbox" to try mimic inboxes label. But that's a custom search and where do you store that? You can only save/create filters, not searches as a label.

So then you have those custom searches, you start archiving items (which is like marking as done in Inbox). But the search isn't smart enough to update. It still shows all the items, you need to refresh or navigate away for it to stop showing the items you just archived that shouldn't match your search anymore.


Never saw the feature, but from the description they simply looks like labels, but displayed inline with unlabeled email. E.g. imagine all emails from your utility company as a single long thread.


And the ability to take a one-click action on all of them in the bundle.

There were so many times that I'd snooze an entire bundle of emails about a trip until the monday before the trip, or snooze the 20 emails sent out from a work monitoring system that I need to look into later in the day, or archive an entire bundle of promo emails after glancing in them at the subject lines.

In gmail I hate the tabs because once I look at them they stop being shown as a count in that tab, and I need to select them all and archive them in multiple steps. And if you don't like the tabs, the only other way to organize is by foregoing grouping all together and throwing everything into one messy list.


Functionally that's exactly how they worked; the difference was that they were shown inline rather than off to the side.


For me the main thing is bundle being automatic and the default is pretty good without needing to setup any filter.


You can do that in gmail by adding a filter for the messages, and using it to automatically apply a label and skip the inbox.

Actually, one reason I never switched to Inbox was that it wouldn't show you an unread count for labels, so it broke this workflow for me.


The point of bundles is that you didn’t have to do all that crap


The point with bundles is that it doesn't skip the inbox. On mobile I could see my "Mailing List" bundle and know there is something to check. With GMail, I could have the "Updates" thing, but once I click on it and go back its hidden from the Inbox until something is added to it.


As dumb as it sounds, the biggest thing I've missed is seeing the sender's image in the main view, where the checkboxes are in gmail.

It was so, so, so much easier to instantly tell who sent the message with an image there. Even the gmail app has this feature, so I really don't know why it's not in the gmail web UI.

Is there any way to add these back with a plugin like this?


This is one thing we might be able to bring back. It will be a stretch but there is a chance as opposed to bundles or deeper reminders integration.


Do you work on Gmail? Are you saying bundles have little chance of making into Gmail? That might cement my decision to finally drop Gmail... :(


Ah sorry just noticed that you're the extension author. Never mind. Definitely going to check the extension out because I'm really hating Gmail right now. Inbox really spoiled us :(


The simplicity is just one of the strengths that made Inbox a superior product.

* Bundles: Made it easy to see all categories of emails from the inbox. Gmail offers categories, but you have to switch between them see each ones.

* Task-oriented: The concept of marking an email as Done was genius, and really helped to achieve zero-inbox. At least Archive kinda serve that purpose. You could also mark an entire bundle as Done from a single click if you wanted.

* Snooze: Inbox at one point offered time-based and location-based snoozes. Location-based snoozes were great for people travelling between offices without a well-defined schedule. It allowed me to bring back location-specific tasks once I got there, before they canned it. I also noticed it would even sometimes pick up relevant dates and times mentioned in an email and offer you to snooze up until that time without having to manually do it or choose a preconfigured time. Sadly Gmail only does time-based snoozes, and without the custom time feature.

* Chronological divisions: The emails were separated by days, so all emails that came today were grouped together, yesterday's the same, and so on. It was easy to see what was from today.

* Trips: Having the AI automagically sort and bundle relevant incoming trips together made it easy to find your hotel reservation, plane tickets, etc, and it would even show up a dynamic card with your flight number, departure time, delays, etc. All the useful info was right there.

Inbox was Gmail 2.0 and it was great. Too bad Google decided to regress.


Am I the only one that would miss every single thing this extension hides? Actually I don't use the right side bar, but I like to organize my email in labels and auto filter emails into them and clearly see how many I have.

I do like gmail as it is now. Actually, I also like the html version https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/h/ but because it has all the features of the normal gmail but it loads faster.


Completely agree. I’m a very big user of labels. I have more than a hundred, and have set up about 50 automatic filters to apply these labels, so much that 99% of the emails I receive have at least one label applied to them automatically.

This extension is geared towards Inbox users who want some less UI overload but without all the automatic features. Seems more like a coat of paint than a plugin.


Same here, after trying the new gmail for a couple of weeks, I really enjoy the labels (with different color) and filters, it feels like everything is well organized and is totally under my control.


You can still open the left nav and leave it open. It just hides entirely when you minimize it like it does in Inbox.


I use that Basic HTML version ever since that weird reply popup panel appeared.


> I was Gmail's lead designer from 2008 to 2012 and co-founded Google Inbox.

Quite the perfect person for the job!


Bless you, Inbox started redirecting to Gmail this week, and I cannot stand the new Gmail look. Features aside, Inbox was a pleasure to read and look at.


Interestingly, it doesn't do this for me yet.


Not sure if I switch to Gmail or if I was redirected but I have been using Gmail for the last few days. I tried Inbox URL and it works. I think I will stick with Inbox until it is switch off.


Google for business seems to be redirecting (at least my company)


I am genuinely impressed that you were gmail’s lead designer for _years_.

In the abstract, I understand how adoption and usability can turn on subtle and clever design decisions. The sum total of all these little things can definitely lead to a hockey stick uptake.

But I’m still lost on the OP “before” and “after” shots. Looks like the same info to me, just rearranged with different whitespace. Am I totally missing something fundamental?


They are not before and after shots. These are both "after" shots, the first one of the inbox view and the second one of an email view. Click on the image to see the default gmail view for comparison.


I guess GP meant those before and after screenshots. I agree with them in that I also don't what the difference is. I also never used Inbox for more than 10 min. It's the same, just a bit "prettier" with the definition of "pretty" being "bigger and with more whitespace", which I don't necessarily agree with, at least for email.


If you click the pictures they change


No, that's basically what inbox was. More whitespace and less (hopefully irrelevant) information on the screen. There was also some extra functionality but I don't think this app implements it


Inbox has a lot of useful features with bundling and archiving.

This extensions seems to be just a skin on gmail that doesn't give any of the inbox functionality. Seems to just replicate that extra whitespace functionality only.


This misses the whole point of inbox which is strange since this is from the guy who claims to have made inbox.

This feels just like a skin for gmail. And it's gone backwards. My view now is narrow with big bars on either side so I see less of the content. I can't mark an email as done.

Opening an email I don't have the archive button anymore. I got reply and forward. Where is archive/mark done feature that is for inbox?

I loved how inbox collected stuff into lists and let me mark done the whole list. Subscribe to a github project? Get all those emails as one list in inbox automatically. Where/how to do that feature in gmail?

I don't understand why ditch inbox, it's lot's better than gmail.


I didn't miss the point... I came up with a lot of those features and still strongly believe in them. But I can only change so much from outside Google and with an extension. Glad you found archive, it is the same as done in everything but name.

I can't add back bundles or deeper reminders integration. I totally agree that this extension doesn't give you back Inbox. But it makes it a little easier to bare for those that cherished the simple interface along with the wonderful features. We can only hope that Google adds them to Gmail.


Can't you add back in bundles by having the skin show (or let us save searches) like "bundle:social in:inbox".

So I can have a link that's like a bundle, and can archive all my social media emails in one go.


Managed to find the archive button. It's not right at the top on the left, far away from the message.


Still using Inbox. Will keep doing so until the servers actually go down. Somehow, it feels intimately sad to have to let go. But when the time comes, Firefox extension please!


Yeah, I saw this and got my hopes up, but I've stopped using chrome and won't go back for this, so I'll have to lump it!


Seconded, would love to use this with Firefox.


My dream is a command line email client with Google Inbox's todo list mentality, with Vim keybindings which I can keep in a Mosh session.

Is there anything at all like this? I'm still getting the hang of Mutt and setting it up properly, it feels a long way off.


One thing I really miss from Inbox is the ability to archive the currently highlighted message with the archive shortcut without having to select it first. Does anyone know a way to get this in gmail?


I'm not sure what you mean by your use of "survive" here - are you referring to the feature where you could pin certain emails and then "sweep" the rest into archive with one click?


Whoops, that was meant to be "archive" but my phone autocorrected it. I've edited it.


Ok cool. So the best way to do this is that I have found is to use the vertical spit view (selected using the icon to the left of the settings gear icon, in the upper right of the gmail window).

This allows you to use the keyboard ('j'/'k') to navigate through the list of emails, and just hit 'e' on the ones you want to archive. Downside is, the content of the email still loads in the preview pane.

If you don't want emails to automatically be marked as "read" when you select them, you can go to the settings gear, "Inbox" tab, and change the length of time a message is displayed in the preview pane before being marked read to "never".


This looks amazing. Please add support for a dark mode!


It is now April 3rd and Inbox is still working for me, both on iOS and Web. Is it too early to hope they may have changed their mind?


Won't happen, alas! I was thinking the same and will keep using it until it stops working...


.... and it's gone. Forwards to gmail now.


It stopped working for me on Android.


if you have root access you can modify the app and keep using it(guide on xda developers) https://www.xda-developers.com/use-inbox-by-gmail-android-af...


Wanted to try this in Firefox, but the code is simple and easy to read enough that it was actually easier to convert it into a Grease/Tamper/Violentmonkey script than to package as a new addon.

https://hastebin.com/elonabobew.js


The CSS in this extension uses googles minified/compiled class names.

Those will change every ~week as Google releases a new frontend version. Presumably the lead designer knows that.

How does he intend to keep this extension working?


Some classnames don't change often and some do. I'm updating the extension as they change and trying to use more stable css selectors (like div[aria-label="search"]) though those only work in english.


You can also remove the top tabs (Social, Promotions, Updates) which are mostly advertising and have "get back to our website" emails.

Lot of forums have moved to Facebook now, so that tab is also sort of obsolete.


Better to change your inbox type under Settings > Inbox > Inbox Type than remove the tabs with an extension.


Is there any email client that supports bundles like Inbox did?


The magic isn’t in the client it’s in the delivery pipeline. If nothing is classifying the message into a bundle on the backend, what is the frontend going to do? Of course you can replicate all this yourself but it’s going to be a lot of software to write.


What I miss most is not the auto-bundling, but writing rules to tag emails with a label and the viewing (and archiving) everything that matched as a bundle.

Seems like all the backend that’s needed is built into gmail, what’s needed on the client is knowing which labels to display as a bundle.


No, no - I definitely miss the autobundling. The auto bundling of github emails by repo is possible the only thing that's been keeping me sane, since I get a _lot_ of notification traffic, much of which I should read about, at least... I can't really setup rules for that - I could setup rules for repos I already participate on (ungh, that's a lot), but every random new repo would be another tag and another rule. Eck.

Inbox made that management drop dead simple. I lament it's loss.


I'm not sure how much you can or would push to restore functionality via this added layer, but even this is a great boon.

For both this, and your recently deceased, thank you.


Does anyone use this Gmail GTD setup with `Multiple inboxes`?

http://klinger.io/post/71640845938/dont-drown-in-email-how-t...


I do. It's like a poor man's implementation for bundles, where you can archive things by removing the label.


I've used this plugin for all of five minutes now, but I'm loving it so far. The search and compose buttons are a little bit out of the way compared to default. But that turns out to be a positive for me, as it got me to finally look up the keyboard shortcuts!


Oh, yes. I was searching for something like this last week. Thank you OP


What we need is a CSS extension for Gmail's simplified version.


and basic javascript upgrades like the ability to select multiple emails at the same time, keyboard shortcuts to delete emails/reply etc.


I just needed a way to mark a bunch of gruped emails as read on mobile app. Does Gmail allow this.


One of the hidden features of this extension is that it gives you a better view of the zoozimps theme.


This is great, thanks for sharing.




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