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I feel like Gmail went from being Photoshop to Draw Something (taigeair.com)
442 points by taigeair on May 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 329 comments

Here's another total usability fail: Tab sends the e-mail you're currently writing instead of indenting text. Everywhere else tab indents text, and when you write an e-mail in gmail you'd expect it to act consistently with how it's used everywhere else.

Start writing in gmail, hit tab to indent some text. Congratulations you've now sent half an e-mail to you boss....

I can't fathom who thought this was a good idea.

Nitpicker's corner: it doesn't actually send the email, it focuses the send button.

I don't think it's nitpicking. It's the difference between the standard way web forms work and Gmail overriding a known behavior to do something else.

That said, after you hit tab, you'll probably type a word and hit space, which will then click the button and send off the message.

I had no idea what he was talking about until the replies. You and grandparent are wrong. Standard behavior on web forms is tab moves you to the next element.

You are expecting gmail to act like a desktop app, and maybe you could make the argument that it should, but that's a different issue.

We can definitely make the case that it used to and that it doesn't anymore. Sending an email isn't like filling in several text boxes on a web form, it's composing/editing a lengthy message that often has proper formatting like indentation.

I actually use tab -> enter to send and I find it quite convenient. Why are people complaining about this when we've all tacitly admitted top posting?

IMO bigger problems are that email ought to be plain text by default and replies ought to go in the bottom (with three dots on the top if necessary).

Sorry if I made anyone mad. Now you know how I felt reading this post.

Ctrl + Enter is much more efficient for me.

How long has Gmail supported Ctrl + Enter? I agree. It is pretty sweet. Now I can go back and forth between Outlook and Gmail!

Ctrl-Enter is the one keyboard shortcut I wish I could disable. It is my most common mis-hit, usually when pasting something into an email and then hitting enter to advance to the next line. I also miss the ability to tab within the compose box, but on the web I pretty much always assume Tab is not going to indent text I'm typing.

If you're replying to an email you can quickly press Ctrl+a, Ctrl+end to go to the bottom, for all your bottom-posting needs.

The standard way that web forms have worked forever is that tab moves focus to the next element.

Yes that is true. But what is the standard way to insert a tab?

On the web, it's copying a tab from somewhere else and pasting it into your web field... or at least that's how I do it :|

And web apps are supposed to replace desktop apps...

Not if I can avoid it they are not!

One easy solution to this (and many other general email mishaps) is to enable Gmail's undo button for sending email: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/1284885?hl=en

That's a workaround of sorts, not a solution.

It solves the problem for the most part, which is what's important here. We're not building a rocket.

It 'solves' the problem in the same way that "save frequently keep backups" 'solves' the "my OS crashes every 10 minutes" problem.

This shouldn't BE a problem in the first place... and that's just the problem.

and there shouldn't be corruption in government. Why is that relevant? Problems either exist or they don't.

Yes, problems in the new Gmail are relevant to an article on problems in the new Gmail.

we aren't dealing with the age-old failings of human nature -- it's a simple problem some engineer could fix in a day.

> That's a workaround of sorts, not a solution.

Now that I reread it and some of the responses, I think he's just arguing over the use of the word "solution", not saying he doesn't like the workaround which is what I originally thought. It depends on how you read it.

I believe you only have a short period of time in order to use that. So not really a problem solver.

I don't understand why 15-second "undo send" isn't default behavior.

I think it probably costs Google a little bit to queue up your email for a send action 30 seconds from now instead of sending it off immediately. I bet it would actually cost them money to just enable it for everyone - I'm sure the percentage of users who even explore Labs is very small.

I can't imagine the cost would be significant, relative to the overall cost of running GMail. And it's not like they generally try to run GMail on the cheap.

Perhaps they're concerned that seeing an 'undo' button would confuse people about how e-mail works, and they'd get a lot of requests to 'undo' messages that had really been sent. Or perhaps there are enough cases where people really want the message to go instantly that even 30 seconds delay would annoy them.

This actually started as turning a bug into a feature. The gmail servers delayed sending the email for about 5 seconds normally, all they did was add a cancel button.

Source: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/gmail-labs-rolls-out-undo...

Then do it client-side?

you send an email, then immediately close the tab. Does your e-mail get sent?

I think that they deal with this problem. Doesn't a modal dialog popup if an email is being slow to send (and you hit the close button on the tab)?

the answer is yes.

The question is how, if it's client-side?

> Everywhere else tab indents text

Everywhere else that's an explicit text editor indents text.

This comment field? Hitting tab goes to the reply button.

The default behavior for "Tab" on the web is to move to the next element on the Tab order.

The default behavior for Tab in rich text editors has been to insert a tabstop for quite some time. I think this is just a casualty of goog.editor.Editor's unconventional default behavior, which is to tab out of the field. If that is truly an oversight (not overriding this behavior), it says a lot about how the Gmail project is being run these days, because previously they did override this.

Just wanted to add it is goog.editor.Field, not goog.editor.Editor. When I wrote that, I told myself "don't call it goog.editor.Editor," a typo I often make in my code. I guess it's like when people look at something and then crash their car into it. Sorry about that.

This is not default behavior for TinyMCE (http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/full.php) or cKEditor (http://ckeditor.com/demo)

But old Gmail did override this.

Is it really unconventional though? Tab for navigation is the default behavior for HTML form inputs and contenteditable. I can't think of a website that I use that has input boxes that have tab do indent actually.

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a widely used rich text editor, be it TinyMCE, CKEditor, YUI Editor or ExtJS' HtmlEditor that doesn't map the Tab key to insert a tabstop or a number of non-breaking spaces. goog.editor.Field is absolutely in the minority in that regard.

There are good design reasons for this. The goog.editor package is designed to be modular. This tab-to-indent behavior is instead provided by the goog.editor.plugins.SpacesTabHandler plugin.

As I mention before, I find it questionable that the GMail developers elected to omit this plugin. I'm not suggesting that there are some fools on the project who can't read an API. Rather, it strongly indicates that GMail is catering less and less to any approximation of the "power user", and assuming that most emails could just as well be composed in a <textarea>.

I'm not sure if it's because they are demo versions (and my experiences echoes esrauch's), but every rich text editor you listed except YUI Editor actually does _not_ map the Tab key to insert a tabstop or spaces.

[1]: http://ckeditor.com/demo [2]: http://www.tinymce.com/tryit/basic.php [3]: http://try.sencha.com/extjs/4.1.1/docs/Ext.form.field.HtmlEd...

Indeed. All other text fields in your browsers do this, why should gmail be any different?

I agree that it would be nice to have some way to force insert a tab, but it's hardly surprising that it works the way that it does.

The Send button is located above/before the email body. One would not expect that focus is moved to one of the previous elements instead of the immediate next element.

Actually. If tabs are set up properly, then when you press tab you should move to the next relevant field.

I wouldn't call it a total fail. Tab moves focus to the next input element on almost all web forms, in this case the send button. It allows you to send the message without moving your mouse in a fashion consistent with how we use web forms, much like how I can submit this comment with tab+enter.

> Tab moves focus to the next input element on almost all web forms,

In almost all software, not just web forms. It's only text editors that don't use this.

This is false. Not only Tab doesn't automatically send the email but Google has not overwrittern anything. This is the default behaviour on a web page. Pressing Tab selects the next interactive element on a web page (a link, form elemnts etc.) and pressing space/enter activates it. I'm guessing you press tab expecting to indent something, write a word and then press space to begin the next one which actually sends the message. This is how forms on a webpage work and AFAIR this is how the compose function in gmail always worked. I think i have seen a couple of WYSIWYG text editors that "capture" the tab keypress and actually ident the text but this is far from the norm.

I often write emails in Google Documents then copy and paste to Gmail to get around these quirks.

The problem with that is that Google Docs and Gmail have completely different default styles and features. The bulleted lists are not compatible and bold font gets all messed up when you try to edit it (like the normal and bold switch).


I love it that way. They are not supposed to break normal behavior by changing how tab works normally in a browser. I use Tab and Shift+Tab all time.

I have to bring another ruse to surface: I could not find where the "cached" option went when they changed the search interface. Right now, it is buried inside another drop down menu near the website name, and guess what, it is the only one option. Why cannot they have it the previous way? Just mention it right next to the result. Crazy UI to me, guess the G+ designer they hired is working out good for them, and am sure they have 11 use cases for justifying this.

Another big big problem is the "Quick VIew" option for the pdf or doc files in search results. Earlier, if I did not want to download it, I could just use "quick view" option. But they took it away, and now I have to be logged into my gmail account and it takes to google drive, so as to let me simply view the document. Crazy. And this is why i turned to mozilla, their pdf.js is still lacking...but I will support it such as it will be up to par or even better someday.

Tab+Return sends email.

Thanks - I didn't notice that. After having mistakenly sent a few embarrassing half e-mails I've stopped using tab altogether in gmail for fear of doing it again. When I indent text it's spaces instead of tab - unlike anywhere else.

This proves the point that it's terrible UI though...

The to: field is always the last one I fill out to prevent half-baked thoughts from escaping.

I highly recommend turning on the "Undo Send" extension in the Labs part of settings. It lets you choose to undo settings for ~5 seconds after you press send. It has saved my bacon countless times, not because I hit send accidentally, but because I realize I want to add one more thing or recipient to an email.

Heh. Imagining this UX patch 25 years ago:

"I highly recommend turning on the 'Undo Irradiate' feature on the Therac-25. It lets you undo irradiation settings for a patient for ~5 seconds after you press irradiate. It has saved my patients countless times, not because the UI tricks me into irradiating patients with the wrong settings, but because I realize I want to add one more dose."

Yes, because sending an email by accident is just like irradiating a cancer patient to death.

Obviously, they've made it easy to send emails (pressing tab then enter) but that means that some folks send them by accident. But that's an acceptable trade, because it doesn't kill people.

For me, the now-hidden formatting options was the biggest annoyance. I use quote/indent/lists a lot. Now I am slowly getting used to the new UI because I have no choice. I have new compose enabled on the @gmail account, although old compose is still active in Google Apps account somehow.

Also, as @tomkarlo suggested, use undo_send, that is a life-saver. I set it to max possible- 30 seconds.

It's messy that they replaced these conventions but I understand that gmail is not targeted at the geek population exclusively anymore. Also, I like minimalistic user interfaces and geeks should be able to adapt. Here is a mapping for gmail:

Tab -> Ctrl + ]

Shift + Tab -> Ctrl + [

Quote -> Ctrl + Shift + 9

(They are also helpfully annotated in the formatting menu in case you forget.)

These shortcuts don't work for me.

Not that I'd ever use them. On my AZERTY keyboard Ctrl + ] translates to Ctrl + Alt + shift + ). I always have to press shift to enter digits so I'm not sure how the last one is even supposed to work in theory.

I also don't seem to have a formatting menu. Are you sure you're not using a Google Labs feature?

Also Tab+Space.

Yes, I think people are more likely to hit Tab+Space instead of Return.

I actually never tab in my emails. I use line breaks instead and have learned to do tab enter for sending emails.

For me, it's a big time saver to do that instead of having to move my cursor to the send button. I didn't realise it was causing problems for other people.

At least they added Alt+Enter to send the email now. That's been the Outlook default since the start of time.

Now I can use the same commands at work and at home. Perfect.

Oh man is that why I keep accidentally sending half written emails!?

Does any web mail not do this? And did Gmail ever not do this?

Yahoo mail has tab-style tabs. And I think it's still considerably more popular than gmail. Gmail has some huge advantages, but they're all business-y stuff, like free POP. Yahoo's interface is perfectly good.

The irony of discussing good UI in hacker news

HN's UI works fine. Unlike Gmail's....

Use spaces.

I can't remember the last Gmail change that was actually an improvement.

In general Google's changes since the Google+ rollout have been 90% terrible. There's been a couple of changes to Youtube that are better (like the really big mode), but overall changes to all Google services have been bad. I feel like they've really lost the plot.

I may be in the minority here, but I actually think most changes to the Gmail interface have been improvements.

My biggest gripe was when they did the overall visual refresh, which reduced the information density on my small laptop screen. Then they added a "Density" switcher, which made things alright again.

I actually like it when interfaces change. Even when I was super busy I wouldn't mind learning and adapting to changes interfaces. Oh well, I guess I just like change for its own sake.

You are definitely in the minority liking change for its own sake.

I enjoy change if it's at worst neutral in impacting functionality but when it makes the application/system/whatever harder to use then it's obviously bad.

New Compose is terrible and they're saying they'll get rid of old compose soon.

The new reply interface is terrible.

The new interface doesn't play well with the GChat boxes either. It used to be that the reply box was small enough that it was trivial to have it on the page at the same time as your GChat, but now the chat boxes will overlay the replay area if you have more than 1. They do this because they want us to be chatting via Google+. But nobody uses Google+. And rather than convincing me to start using Google+ what they're doing is convincing me to ditch GChat and GMail.

I love trying new things and I love learning new software but I've learned the new gmail UI and I don't like clicking 2-3X more for things I do pretty regularly. Like getting someone's email address.

I agree that for you it's 3 more clicks, but for the millions of other regular users, it's less useless info on the way.

People have to get that it's a product for many, not for all. You can agree with hiding emails or not, but a company as large as Google wouldn't hide it just for the sake of it. Obviously there was research and data that backed that change.

Bottom line is, if it was your company, you'd hide stuff to improve the experience of 90% of your customers at the cost of a few without another thought.

While that may be a good point, you also need to consider that Gmail is part of Google Apps for Business. I don't really mind the changes for my personal Gmail account since most of the emails that go through there are quite simple and these changes don't have any real impact on my workflow. But for my work account, it's a whole different story. Most of these changes make my experience quite annoying when dealing with business emails where I often need to copy email addresses, modify subjects, CC people, etc.

Breaking Gmail for business users doesn't seem like a good idea since they are the ones who are actually paying for the service.

It's an online web app. You can give different people different interfaces for the same data. You can even let them choose which interface they prefer. Your data-collection might tell you that 90% of users would be better off one way, but that's an argument for changing the defaults, not for alienating a chunk of your userbase. And if every change like this is upsetting 10% of your users...

Revolutionary idea! Why not use Thunderbird?

Or any other mail client?

Nobody wants to use Thunderbird just because it's faster than using the web interface, more functional, adds useful features, and keeps a backup of your email on your hard drive.

Unfortunately it involves running a program on a PC and the PC is dead. Nobody uses PCs any more. Didn't you get the memo? :-)

That's the rub isn't it? You may be in the minority and represent 10,000,000 users. Now who reading this wouldn't love to have a product with 10M active users?

If I had to coin it as a law I would say "The probability of an acceptable UX for a product is a function inverse square of the number of users of that product." Which is to say its impossible. Hence the need for the UX to be morphable.

I'm with you. Asthetics actually have improved with many google services, quiet alot actually.

You hear complaints about Youtube's design evolution. They've improved much more than they've missed.

The latest YouTube itrration is just god awful for me. Title should be above the thing I'm watching, not below. Because of that, the video sits in the top corner of my screen. And. I. Hate. It. Maybe there is a way to fix that, but guess what. I can't be arsed to look for it. It's nice to have an overhaul of your UI every now and then, but screwing it upside down every other day just makes me stop using it. Facebook is so retarded now that every time I have to use it I want to scream in agony.

Gnome is a nice example. They did a dramatic change, but it was long overdue. I hated it at the start, thankfully Unity was such a pos that I gave it a shot and came about. Now I'm having trouble with Windows, since it feels clunky and inefficient now. But gnome did the change once. With some websites it feels like they just like to horse around making me guess and study their new gimmicky fud.

My opinions are opposite yours. (except facebook, which I do not use)

Youtube has a functional layout for my purposes, particularly in find videos of my subscriptions, after a user style modification or two, youtube can really shine.

but GNOME?

   Want dontzap off? "No one actually wants that!"
   Want compose keys? "No one actually wants that!"
   Want your computer to stay on when you close the lid? "No one actually wants that!"
   want to hide the top bar? "No one actually wants that!"
   want to move the top bar? "No one actually wants that!"
There were some good choices made, yes, but GNOME also chose to removing functionality. Then it chose to provide no alternatives because it threatened their brand. GNOME 3's motto should of being "No one actually wants that!"

For the laptop with closed lid, I have no idea what is the problem. It works out of the box for me.

I'm not exactly sure what does dontzap do, but apparently its X.org issue, not Gnome.

I agree they made some controversial changes. I don't really like the bottom tray. I don't like the lack of any meaningful customisation. Some really stupid shit was that they hid Power Off option for some time.

Then again, it is so good when it comes to my workflow I just roll with it. There are some prosthetics that helped me re-add some functionality - it was really annoying that background programs wouldn't show up in the top bar.

And my point kinda was that they did complete overhaul of UI, but then sticked to it (more or less). Layout isn't changing dramatically every few months.

a neophite? I shall explain!

GNOME has being going out of their way with the philosophy "less is more" Re. configuration.

So yes, the laptop lid does work out of the box, what doesn't work is when you're listening to music on your laptop and you close the lid. There is nothing you can do through gnome to stop this. You must install configuration programs.

Zap is a ridiculously useful key combo for X which signals X to kill itself and all the processes X spawned. On most distributions X will immediately restart fresh. The urge to restart on windows can often be fulfilled by a Zap in Linux. The keycombo can be unexpected though (ctrl+alt+backspace) so they disable by default, FINE. There is nothing you can do through GNOME to change this setting. You must configure X yourself.

Here's the thing, gnome 3 is still capable of configuring X for you, they just removed the interface to it. Check it out, this was gnome 3.4! [1] (from [2])

[1]: https://lh3.ggpht.com/-4mWWRyfGZlQ/T8kLHBv_WbI/AAAAAAAAATM/g... [2]: http://hacksr.blogspot.ca/2012/06/gnome-34-in-ubuntu-1204-an...

Don't get me started on Nautilus. You're using Gnome? Try uninstalling nautilus and using Nemo. It's a fork of the old Nautilus by the guys at Linux Mint.

> Don't get me started on Nautilus. You're using Gnome? Try uninstalling nautilus and using Nemo. It's a fork of the old Nautilus by the guys at Linux Mint.

I have Nautilus 2.32 pinned over here with an otherwise Xfce-y DE. The latter still doesn’t seem to have figured out how to deal with icons on the desktop in a decent way.

Totally disagree. Android, Google Now, Knowledge Graph, Maps, Drive/Docs, Google+ itself, and the Play Store have all seen marked improvements since the rollout of Google+.

In Gmail, the new compose UI is an improvement in same ways -- for me it's an improvement overall, smart labels are an improvement, and email search has gotten significantly better.

Oh, and virtually every mobile application of theirs has gotten much better.

And don't forget Analytics. Google Analytics has seen a vast improvement in UI and usability.

I totally agree. The other day, subject line and e-mail address input field would not take text input straight from my keyboard. I had to copy/paste them from a notepad file, and strangely Ctrl-C/V would not work...rather I had to paste through right click menu. Such an annoyance to find the contact and then paste it. I am on a job hunting spree, and this single thing just put me over the top. Furthermore, I wanted to attach some images, so i dragged and dropped them, like I would do previously, but instead they were coming out as inline images. I could not find what I was doing wrong, so had to do it through the "attach images" icon.

I hate the +You thing too, I do not have a G+ account, but still that thing is there. Always. In the corner. Enticing me. Chastising me.

I used to use Google scholar frequently, but since they have removed this option from the tab bars, I seem to have removed it from my work flow. Another annoying thing is, the two similar bar options when on Google search page.

I am in process on moving to outlook.com...simply because I think MS is an enterprise company and more conservative of design changes. Otherwise, I would have to move to a desktop based client.

When I moved to gmail from Yahoo, it was such a bliss....it has been a bliss until some year ago. But I think, I should be more open with my choices now.

GMail changes can be mitigated by using a normal mail client via IMAP.

Obviously not an option for everybody, and not a 100% solution, but it helps a lot.

I'm also not liking recent changes at Google, so I'm in the process of transitioning away from GMail and the rest of their services for most stuff. Before too long I'll only be using it to login to sites using the "Login with GMail" buttons, and all my real email will go to a different account.

Except that using a mail client kills the main advantage of Gmail and why I started using it in the first place; consistent, clean interface and ubiquitous presence on all my devices.

Yeah I can install mail clients on all of my computers for Gmail, but if I'm gonna bother with a mail client I'd just use mail set up through one of my own domains on one of my own servers.

The gmail interface is so very far from clean in my experience. Apples offering stands in stark contrast, such that the irritations with it (I'm not blind, massive buttons, huge click areas, low information density, missing features) are bearable.

I was referring to the reasons I started using Gmail.

I started using Gmail when it was still invite only. At the time Gmail's interface was refreshingly clean.

Ah, got it. I joined in those days to - I still remember the email saying I was in arriving. Bye bye hotmail. For all my gmail complaints, I could do a lot worse.

Oh I know this one: when they let you ungroup an email exchange into separate emails.

Funny, I feel 100% opposite.

I'm torn between strongly agreeing with these points and wanting to comment pointing out that none of them matter..... I hate change for change's sake, but the new gmail compose window has made me more efficient. It took some getting used to however.

Responses to the points made in the article:

1) I can’t easily delete my signatures.

Forget about deleting your sig and generally cleaning up email threads. Decent email clients do this on their own and are we really that worried about a few extra bytes of data these days?

2) I can’t easily change my email subject.

If its time to edit the subject of an email thread maybe it is time to hit the big read "compose" button and start from scratch anyway.

3) Ok, so what if you want to insert a link or something.

Drag and drop from the address bar. So easy.

4) Rapportive doesn’t work.

I've never used rapportive, it sounds awesome. Bummer on this one.

5) You can’t easily get access to people’s emails. (Also fonts and formatting)

This one does bug me, because they've all become 3 clicks (or new shortcut keys to learn). An option to just always display these things would be good.... but I've evolved and learned the hotkeys.

In conclusion, I've also been a long time gmail user who got cranky at the fact that the new compose form forced me to change my habits. I learned hotkeys and feel it has made me more efficient. Since I try to spend as little time in life being cranky and optimize efficiency I evolved and moved on.

Full list of hotkeys: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6594?hl=en

Saying 'hit the big red compose button' totally misses the point of why subjects get edited.

If you'd ever participated in a discussion list, you'd know that sometimes a single discussion thread branches out into multiple smaller threads. The best way to handle this is to reply with a new subject so that threaded conversation views in email clients show it as a new thread, but all the participants stay on the reply-to list and the conversation history remains in the quotes.

Drag and drop from the address bar to insert a link? What is this, Mac OS 9? I've literally never observed a user drag and drop from the address bar. I know it works, but I'm a power user. Do you really think it makes sense to remove an obvious button for a common operation (inserting a link) just because you assume that users know how to drag-and-drop a text selection from a 16 pixel high rectangle?

Maybe all Google's user testers are dragging and dropping fiends so this actually is the reasoning behind it. I don't know how you would find precision drag-and-drop convenient on a typical laptop/chromebook touchpad, though.

What you're arguing for is better parent-child discussion relationship management in Gmail. Something like Gmail + Google Group at a much deeper integration level, with the Google Groups part not sucking like Google Groups does now.

Also, I'd love if I could take a mailing list thread (like from NANOG), and with one-click blow it out onto a thread on something like Stack Exchange.

Email needs to continue to evolve. It's role is to remove the friction of communicating tasks, thoughts, ideas, concepts, etc. We need work refining how those things are defined and moved between communication mediums.


What you're arguing for is better parent-child discussion relationship management in Gmail

What? No! He just wants to edit the subject.

Saying that we need better parent-child discussion relationship management is over complicating a problem with a simple solution that worked until some folks at gmail screwed it up.

A la Google Wave?

Sort of? I can definitely see design elements from Wave in what I'm suggesting; maybe more like a collaborative/group version of www.mailboxapp.com.

I said "maybe". I'm savvy to discussion lists. I can see times when you want to edit the subject. It is still possible. It takes two clicks...... Yes it could take 1 click.

What about copy and paste is that beyond normal humans too?

Frankly, this article was about power users and my responses were from my own personal point of view. I couldn't care less about if these changes are bad for ma's and pa's.

I rarely use the "make a link" button because Gmail automatically converts URL-looking strings into links. So I just paste the URL and get a link for free, no buttons required.

> Drag and drop from the address bar. So easy.

This is stupid. For starters, it means people can only insert links to sites they currently have open in their browser...

I for one tend to open the link I'm about to send just to be sure I got the right one and it shows what I intend to communicate... So there it is, ready for drag and drop :)

@Fuzzwah - regarding #4, I'm trying to insert a link. I don't see how you can do the drag and drop, especially if you want to make a word a link instead. Not http url.

It seems you still can test links. For some reason, I couldn't do it for a period. Maybe they brought it back...

In regards to learning hotkeys - there is no hotkey for changing subject line or getting access to emails. Otherwise I'd learn it.

I think they should keep the simple UI for mobile and give the more full featured one for desktop (or at least an option).

Gotcha. In general I detest html email so your #4 problem isn't something I've faced. My answer of dragging and dropping isn't actually something I do very much either. I normally just copy and paste the link into the email and don't format it in anyway.

I'm totally with you on subject editing and accessing email addresses from the header. Adding clicks purely to minimize the design seems like a poor move to me too.

Sorry I meant #3. Either way, I like to format my links.

If there's a shortcut to pop out the message to compose mode, I'd totally learn that.

I wonder what the gmail team is thinking with this new UI...

You can hold shift while you click on "Compose" or "Reply" to open it in a new window (if that's what you meant).

shift + r

Alas, you'd then still need to click the formatting and header to make the changes you're talking about.


I meant as you are replying inline. e.g. http://www.taigeair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Edit-Subj...

I tried hitting shift+r but it just looks like inline reply in a new window.

Obviously I use email a lot and care a lot about gmail.

> If its time to edit the subject of an email thread maybe it is time to hit the big read "compose" button and start from scratch anyway.

This isn't always the case. I quite often want to forward emails and edit the subject for clarity. Having to create a new mail and then copy the content from the previous mail (especially attachments) seems unnecessarily painful.

Don't forget they're going after the Outlook crowd here. Did anyone else notice the new use of Outlook send key bindings?

In the past you had to open lots of pop outs to write multiple mails. Now I can be composing 3 messages and reading another in the background. That's the point. Do more with your screen real estate.

I don't get this. In the few times where I was writing multiple emails in the past, having them in multiple windows meant I could reliably use the keyboard to switch between them easily.

Since this change, if I am going to do multiple emails, I have to reach over to the mouse a crap load more. To the point that I am glad this is not something I do often.

Of course, this is the same reason I don't like chat in the gmail window. It winds up taking up too much of the real estate, and I never got the muscle memory to switch between popups.

> 1) I can’t easily delete my signatures.

One easy way to do this (and reply in a bottom posted manner) is to press Ctrl+a followed by Ctrl+end. As someone who almost exclusively uses the keyboard to navigate the gmail interface, I've found that quite handy.

Thank you for showing me the error of my ways! Clearly google understands my needs better than I do myself.

Rapportive works great for me, it is an awesome tool.

Gmail is now a cluster fuck of terribleness. Who the hell decided it was a good idea to make you type your email in what is basically a slightly larger chat window? Who decided it would be a good idea to put the "reply" edit box at the end of a potentially very long email? Oh, and make it fit like six lines of text. I swear, this is what happens when you let a bunch of kids run the show. "My emails are rarely ever more than 'kthx' or 'heh' so lets get rid of all that useless space!"

I write long emails in Gmail. The new compose doesn't bother me at all. I feel like that if Gmail always looked like that, nobody would complain. But since something changed, we get a bunch of articles about how Google knows nothing about UX.

Probably the same team that has usage data for hundreds of millions of users.

I'm gonna quote @kevingadd from down below because I can't say it better myself: "The new gmail is streamlined for particular purposes and not for others. You'd think that one of the biggest data companies in the universe would be able to gather actual data about how people use their software and ensure they aren't making it significantly worse to use for subsets of the customer base. Maybe this is what Google actually did, and they decided they don't care about the 1-10% of their users who use gmail for anything other than sending glorified SMS messages to people."

The new gmail is a toy for kids.

Glorified SMS? I get that the compose window is smaller but this is pretty unbelievably hyperbole. On my main screen, I get over 4000 characters before having to scroll and even on my 13" laptop screen, I can fit close to 1700 characters in the compose window before I get a scroll bar (http://cl.ly/image/0H1A2O3u251U). In contrast, the "old" version only gives me about 650 characters on my small screen (http://cl.ly/image/0h3O2H3g0P21). Perhaps I'm missing something but this seems to free up real estate.

It's glorified SMS in that the designer of the feature has explicitly said that they changed the design so that it would basically be glorified chat:

> What it looks like, really, is a slightly oversized version of Gchat. And that’s no accident. Google’s actively trying to make email less fussy and formal--or, in other words, to make it a little more like instant messaging. And as Jason Cornwell, Gmail’s lead designer, explains, one of the ways to do that is simply to "give you permission to write shorter messages." [...]

> "It was a space that was sort of intimidating, I think, to write a message like 'Hey, wanna get lunch?'" he explains. "We wanted the new compose to facilitate these quicker messages. Or at least make it a space where that felt appropriate."


"hey, let's meet for coffee soooooooon! your shout? :-)"

Dear Google, please don't feel you need to give me permission to write the above. And definitely don't remove or change handy features to achieve such an objective. It's my business how I compose email, and my responsibility for justifying the occasions where a formal style is needed vs casual. Just make the interface useful and stop trying to turn email into something it's not.

Guess I'm a kid, then? I find it faster to write an email on it than I did before and I like the ability to compose with another email in the background.

GMail has some bits I don't like, but by and large I'm a pretty big fan.

I would love to see Google design a car with usage data. It would have one door and the trunk would be perpetually open.

But it would be self driving..

Please... Usage data is irrelevant. The UI design at google is now being run by dictat from the top. User studies and survey results are massaged until they can be contorted into conclusions that suite the already made design decisions.

You're obviously going to need to justify that, since Google are fairly well known for heavy A/B testing, collect a tonne of data and make probably the most popular analytics tool on the web.

That was before Marisa left.

No not really. This is my observation and I'm sharing it. That's it.

Which can yield erroneous results if not used properly:


I thought good design was about designing for the extremes, not the mass majority of people that don't use your product to the fullest.

What bothers me most about gmail is the flat conversations, where you can't see that a message was a reply to an email in the middle of a thread.

It seems I'm almost alone thinking this way, though -- it's not a complaint I often hear from other people.

It seems like concept of threading is too complicated for average user these days. All the new & trendy software for communication have no threading capabilities -- Discourse, Google+, Github issues, Moot.

Threading is good for reading through one time and when there are many topics of interest. Email is something you often return to again and again and topics are organised using subject headers. Email discussion view was introduced by google a very long time ago before almost anyone else did it. It is a bit of a cosmetic trick where it just sorts emails that have the same subject. Threading does not jive with the way Email technology is structured.

Remember when Google tried to build a brand new huge piece of technology meant to revolutionise communication on the web? Nobody adopted it, was called Wave.

How exactly does threading ‘not jive with the way Email technology is structured’? In-Reply-To: and/or References: are pretty much all you need for threading.

Reddit is bigger than all of those, combined :)

And Facebook added threaded comments recently too

At least we still have sane threading here at HN.

I agree; that's one thing that I notice, especially in an email chain with a lot of people in it. What would you like to see Gmail do about it?

Indenting and maybe vertical lines to help the reader figure out the threading would be an improvement. However, I don't think this is good enough in a long email chain. The way traditional email readers solve this is, of course, is with two views, one of threaded email subject and another for contents (http://www.davep.org/mutt/screenshots/). I don't think gmail will ever adopt this interface, though.


> Who the hell decided it was a good idea to make you type your email in what is basically a slightly larger chat window?

If you need more space, the box expands; there is also a pop-out button so you can make it as big as you want.

> Who decided it would be a good idea to put the "reply" edit box at the end of a potentially very long email?

There is also a 'Reply' button right at the top of the email. You don't need to scroll at all.

It's not that bad, definitely not terrible.

That's how it is, considering about 40% of emails being opened on mobile, and this share is growing - http://i.imgur.com/8hPUHY2.png

What a horribly misleading graph.

What exactly is misleading in that graph?

That graph is misleading, if they were honest their scale would be 0%...100%

not 0%...50%

That's what disingenuous presentations do when they want to make a graph scary, they cut the axis to scale the data and ditch the sense of perspective.

Made worse by the fact that the author didn't need to do that at all. Going from 10% -> 40% is a hell of a jump, even in perspective that's impressive.

It'd be good to get the gmail team's thoughts on this.

Does anyone really think Photoshop is a good UX for mass consumption (which is obviously the target for Gmail)? I've been using it since version 2, and I think it's a great product, but for new users it's a miserably difficult product to learn, especially for any kind of casual use.

There's a reason why users love apps like Draw Something or (more relevantly) Instagram or Paper. They're able to easily achieve the results they want without investing a huge amount of time in learning the software. Why is that so hard to understand? Not everyone wants to invest 40+ hours in learning Photoshop.

I spend a vast amount of time every day in Photoshop and Illustrator. I got bored with uploading screenshots some time ago, but here's a small collection of my day-to-day interactions with the software.


This is actually pretty entertaining. I always thought of the Photoshop interface to "alright", but I may reconsider my position.

Nobody thinks Photoshop has a good UX, but that's not the point; the point is it's been consistent, with only small, helpful changes.

If Adobe redesigned the Photoshop interface they'd instantly love half their market share, as people using software professionally don't like or have the time to learn something new just because it's better in some odd way.

Microsoft did that with Office, the whole Ribbon fiasco, but to their defense: - Office 2003's UI was extremely complicated; GMail's new extra steps are nothing in comparison. - The Ribbon UI was well designed from the start. - All (or most) keyboard shortcuts stayed the same. - Microsoft actually did extensively test the new design and, being Microsoft, it will be supported for a long time.

Adobe probably wouldn't be able to pull that off, and it looks like even Google can't anymore.

Yes, but Photoshop has a totally different target market from Gmail, which is why the article's comparison is nonsensical if not entirely wrong.

Gmail is designed for everyone and has to support the full spectrum of users, in particular the new ones (because they're the ones picking new email accounts - consider that they're partially trying to target people who still don't have email). Photoshop is designed for a very select set of power users. Saying Gmail's interface is becoming less like Photoshop and that's bad makes no sense at all.

You probably wouldn't recommend Photoshop to your Grandma - you'd tell her to use Picasa or iPhoto, both of which I suspect have far more users.

If your point is that his analogy wasn't great, I think we'll all concede that point.

Well, my point was that the analogy shows the problem with the rest of the post - he's applying a faulty standard to judging if the changes are good ones or not.

If it's just griping that he doesn't like the changes, fine, but if his point is that these are bad changes that don't make sense for the product, then he needs to pick a better analogy.

Everyone wants simpler, more intuitive products, unless it disrupts their particular workflow. http://xkcd.com/1172/

I think despite the weak analogy, his point is obviously valid and solid. Gmail has gotten shittier for everyone.

That's a pretty broad statement. It seems like what he's written is that it's gotten worse for someone with his use cases, which I'm not arguing (and I fall in that camp.) But we're also not representative of the average email user, which we sometimes have a tendency to forget when judging product changes.


Photoshop is extremely customisable and full-featured which is what I was getting at. Draw Something is fun and light which works well as a mobile app.

I don't know about the average email user but after 10,000+ hours of using email, I feel like I'm pretty proficient at email :)

Understood... but all your points are about the negatives of that, and none are about the positives.

It's pretty easy to come up with a bunch of arbitrary gripes about any major UX change. But you haven't made any effort to contemplate why these changes might make a lot of sense.

For example, you're complaining about the need to do two clicks to make a link, but it seems to me that 90% of the time people just paste in a URL and gmail deals with it properly. Separately entering a link and URL is more like writing HTML and I don't expect regular users do that... and frankly, I'd rather just have the URL anyway. If you knew that users were only using the "add link" icon maybe 1% of the time, wouldn't you move it down a level as well? Or just get rid of it?

I'm a super, super heavy Gmail user - I average ~6,000 emails a month received on my work account, and a smaller but similar flow on my personal gmail. I know and use the keyboard shortcuts. I generally find the mole and the new text formatting UX a bit annoying - but from a product usability perspective - not a design perspective - I can see why they make a lot of sense.

Well we all know gmail is great that's why we use it so I didn't want to convert the converted.

It's just I'd like my gmail web app to be more full featured. We can make it chat-like for mobile. I'm glad you're not encumbered by it though.

The line between mobile and desktop is rapidly blurring into irrelevance at this point... I'd guess gmail is used from mobile more than desktop at this point, and "mobile" devices are starting to look more and more like "desktops" when it comes to things like tablets, Android laptops (more of which are reportedly coming from the major OEMs over the next few months) and the Surface.

Expect to see more web services looking more like mobile, because while it used to be they were primarily web sites with mobile access, they're turning into mobile apps with some desktop web access. Installed base on PC vs. mobile should cross over this year, and usage trend is already ahead of that for lots of services.

>Gmail is designed for everyone and has to support the full spectrum of users, in particular the new ones (because they're the ones picking new email accounts - consider that they're partially trying to target people who still don't have email).

If anything, the new Gmail with all the hiding and obfuscation going on is going affect the new users the most. The other users atleast know that something is possible and will hunt around for an option, but the new folks automatically assume that some things are just not possible. For example, editing subject when replying or forwarding.

You're assuming that most users want to edit the subject of ongoing threads (and thereby break the thread.) I have my doubts it even occurs to most them. So not having that option visible makes sense. I understand what you're saying about hidden options being unknown, but generally overall cognitive load is one of the biggest issues for new users and one of the best ways to mitigate that is to remove visual complexity.

Changing the subject should not break the thread. Thread displays should be generated by creating a tree out of References mail headers.

That's another bug in Gmail. If I send two emails to two different people titled "Proposal" they get threaded. Thanks Gmail!

What exactly about Office 2003's interface was "extremely complicated"? It's been nothing but intuitive and helpful to me. The new versions of Office aren't hard to figure out either, though.

I haven't used Office in any significant way since the Ribbon. It was basically the final nail in the coffin for me. Even now, when I have to use a word processor or spreadsheet, I can easily find my way around LibreOffice menus, while Office's Ribbon is confounding every time.

But the Photoshop interface did change dramatically with CS, Au least more substantially than gmail ever has.

> for new users it's a miserably difficult product to learn, especially for any kind of casual use.

.. means the UX is bad. Just because it's an advanced tool doesn't mean it needs to be unreasonably difficult to wrap your head around. Pixelmator isn't as powerful, but the UX for most of what it does far exceeds Photoshop's similar features.

Discoverability != usability. Products designed for casual, first-time users must be discoverable (= it's easy to figure out how to do things), while tools for professionals repeating a workflow over and over must be usable (= fast to do what you want). Photoshop is usable but not discoverable, Gmail has to be both and it's a fine line to walk.

Does anyone really think Photoshop is a good UX for mass consumption

Obviously not. I just wish Gmail would work more like The GIMP.

I have gimp love, I really do.

but I do not agree with your statement.

I think we all wish Gmail was just more like Gmail. The arguably redesigned email client UX. Compare it to itself!

I think older versions were more consistent. The newer ones show tacked-on ideas. I'm sticking with V6, despite its age and incompleteness.

On a related note: did Google hire some broken UX person with an immense fetish for annoying popups and interruptions? It seems that almost every product has some sort of "oh, let me intrude into your day and tell you about some annoying UX misfeature that you have to stop everything you are doing and look at right now"-popup nowadays.

Of course, since I have 3-4 Google accounts (work, personal, hobby projects etc) I get each and every one of these popups at least 3-4 times.

Whatever clown is responsible for this at Google: stop it. Fucking stop it right now. And if you work for Google and you read this and you have something to do with UX, please quote me in the next meeting you go to and be sure to include the word "clown" and the word "fuck". If that doesn't help I have a 4 by 6 foot poster of my ugly mug looking disapprovingly down on you mailed to you. I can mail that to 1600 amphitheatre parkway mountain view ca 94043 and whenever someone gets the urge to make a popup: point to the poster and shout "BJØRN SAYS NO POPUPS!" until their ears bleed.

4 feet by 6 feet, you say?

Do you have spam filters for traditional corporal mails as well, Matt? It'd never bypass them in that case.

so c/o Matt Cutts then?


I'm normally pretty easy to please with UI changes, but even I'm a little frustrated with some of the new compose quirks.

Personally, I've had a very hard time putting together bulleted lists in the new compose. To start the list, you need to click the underlined A (for Additional Formatting), then the familiar bulleted list icon. I can live with that, though I'd certainly prefer one click.

To do a nested list, though, I often get confused and frustrated. With your existing list, you need to click the underlined A, then click what appears to be the left align icon, which is the Align Menu. From there, Indent More is what you're looking for. It took me quite a while to figure this out, and I still find myself forgetting it frequently. Even when I do remember, I'm frustrated by the maze of clicking I have to go through.

I also have trouble with hyperlinks, often clicking the attachment button instead of hovering over the plus to reveal the chained hyperlink icon. I don't know that I've ever used the attachment button (other than mistakenly), as I always drag files onto the message to attach instead.

For me, pretty much the only formatting options I want are lists and links, and those are pretty inconvenient to access.

Learning the following keyboard shortcuts for formatting bullet lists made the transition to the new compose UI much less painful for me:

  ctrl + shift + 8 to create a new bullet list
  ctrl + ] to indent right
  ctrl + [ to indent left

Ctrl + Shift + 8? You gotta be shitting me!

Ctrl + ] & [ to indent? What's wrong with Tab & Shift-Tab, like in every other app?

Uh, [tab] usually switches focus to next control, and shift-tab switches focus to previous control.

Thus, when I hit [tab] now focus is taken out of this text box and to the reply button.

HN discourages formatting. We don't indent posts, we don't have nested lists.

Gmail and email encourage formatting. You're writing a letter, not a twitter post.

That's irrelevant to the point in the parent that I was responding to - that every app uses tab to format text. Most apps don't. There are a limited section of apps that use tab for text formatting. I'm pretty sure most web browsers never have, although I welcome examples of web browsers that do.

If people want to write real email they can use a real client, not a web interface.

I think it's relevant. I expect app designers to use the keybindings that make sense based on what the user wants to do instead of blindly adopting whatever guidelines the OS suggests.

If you're in the shell, "tab" should tab-complete, not move to the next terminal you have open.

If you're in a shooting game, "tab" should reload your weapon or show scores or whatever, not advance your cursor to the next target.

If you're in MS word, tab should indent the next line, not move to a different control.

If you're writing an email, same thing, because "writing" is most like "writing in MS word."

Re: your second point, Gmail is a really good "real" web client, at least for most people, and this is a small step away from that.

None of your other examples have the conflict of running within a browser, and the browser already having an expected behaviour for tab, including an expected behaviour for tab inside a text box / edit field.

That's actually not an easy problem to solve. When I'm creating some (desktop) UI that has multiple controls one being a text box, it always destroys the workflow (tab - next, tab - next, tab - indent.. crap..). I did not find a good solution for this so far.

Edit: Thinking about it.. maybe I'll try big G's version.

Shift + 8 = *

Seems like a sensible mnemonic to me.

Sensible, perhaps, but I may not have figured that out if it weren't pointed out to me.

If keyboard shortcuts are enabled ? will give list of all shortcuts :)

I can honestly say I've never used text formatting in an email, so I realize we're coming at this from two different directions.

If I need a list of things in an email I'll do this:

  - step 1  
    - sub step a  
    - sub step b  
  - step 2  
  - etc
Which gets me thinking about how cool it would be if gmail accepted and displayed markdown formatting..... Would that be a winner for you too?

I hate just about anything and everything about MSOutlook, but this is one feature that I sorely miss in GMail.

In MSO, at least if you have the option turned on (although I think it's on by default), you start a new list simply by typing "* some text". When you hit enter, a new bullet-point is automatically created, and hitting enter twice without entering text ends the list. Likewise, typing "1. some text" begins an ordered list with the same behavior of the unordered list.

Lists are so common, especially for development and business in general, that this has saved me tons of time over the years. While I do get annoyed at most of the other automagic formatting that MSO crams in, this particular feature is gold.

To your question: yes, a MD-enabled editor would probably be the best. MD is quickly becoming ubiquitous, at least in my realm, and is a great compromise between an overblown WYSIWYG abomination and plain text.

That's because Outlook uses MS Word internally for email composition and rendering.

Earlier (Outlook 2003), it used to be obvious and also configurable. Now you're stuck using it with all its quirks and annoyances. (Yes, I'm not a fan..)

FWIW, MSO has had something like 16 generations to refine that.

Yeah, that's something I'd really love to see in Gmail as well as Docs.

It doesn't even have to be full markdown support, just the most convenient things (* for bullet points, ...)

I think those shortcuts are easy to learn (at least on Windows). Ctrl-K for links, Ctrl-] for indent more, Ctrl-[ for indent less.

I wouldn't consider myself a gmail power user, but I do use it as my every day email. I love the new updates. Most of the things that gmail makes hard (and when the author says hard he means an extra click) are things that are rarely, if ever, done by me. This is exactly how I think email should function, make the stuff you use most easy.

The author mentions things like "It's hard to delete my signature." I've never done that, and if you find yourself deleting your signature all the time you might want to figure out a different work-flow / change your signature.

Most of the time when I'm trying to send an email I want to get in and out of the editor as fast as possible. I feel like the new gmail is streamlined for that exact purpose.

When I'm trying to send an email, sure, I want the email client to get out of my way. But I also want to be certain that the email is going to the right person, and that the subject is correct (so they'll read it), etc. And those are all made harder by the new gmail ui.

The new gmail UI also uses less of my screen real estate (because it insists on being a tiny popup fake modal that I can't move) which means composing larger emails involves more scrolling. If I'm responding inline to quotes it involves EVEN MORE scrolling.

That modal is also glued to the bottom right of my screen, so if I had something there (like a floating window containing the email I was responding to), now I have to carefully resize my gmail window to get the modal into the right place - old fullscreen gmail had text start at the top left, so this wasn't a problem.

The new gmail compose mode also breaks the text caret in a way the old one didn't. I don't know if this is a gmail bug caused by using a custom edit control or a firefox bug or what, but it definitely tells me they didn't test it very thoroughly.

The new gmail is streamlined for particular purposes and not for others. You'd think that one of the biggest data companies in the universe would be able to gather actual data about how people use their software and ensure they aren't making it significantly worse to use for subsets of the customer base. Maybe this is what Google actually did, and they decided they don't care about the 1-10% of their users who use gmail for anything other than sending glorified SMS messages to people.

When Gmail first launched, they made a big deal of the fact that their user testing revealed ~11 different types of user with distinct workflows. They made sure the Gmail interface supported all those workflows well. It seems like the new interface is going after just one or two, and making life harder for everyone else. I think I will switch back to a desktop email client for day-to-day use and only use the web interface when I'm on a different computer.

> I think I will switch back to a desktop email client for day-to-day use and only use the web interface when I'm on a different computer.

I primarily use Mutt because I spend most of my time in a console. I know Mutt gets a bad rap, but it's actively developed, super fast, has excellent (customizable) keyboard shortcuts, and is dead-simple to use if you're already on the command line. Plus, you can bring along your favorite text editor for composition. Mutt also handles gmail labels relatively well.

Furthermore, tmux + powerline + mutt means that I get new mail notifications from the console, and switching to mutt is a key combination away. This setup is particularly helpful if I'm emailing about technical matters, since I can split the pane and view whatever code/data/mathematics is under discussion in the email thread.

(One point of irritation is that bash doesn't seem to fully support powerline.)

Another mutt user here. It's the best email client I've used, and that's saying a lot, covering a bunch of years, and includes recent and modern ones.

It's fast, light, and the keyboard-driven functionality works very, very well for me.

The main issues I've got with it:

Plays poorly when others send highly formatted mail. I prefer treating email as straight text. HTML-marked up email with color to indicate, say, various quoting levels, obviously doesn't work (it's fragile in any regard). I'll generally keep a secondary GUI mailer (usually KMail from Kontact, the KDE PIM) for such needs.

Lack of native tag support. Gmail's ability to tag messages is useful. There are extensions and rewrites which offer similar functionality in mutt.

Slow performance on very large mailboxes. With >10k messages, I start seeing performance fall of for various mailbox operations, especially search. There are indexing tools to speed this.

Do you have a link? Curious to see what kind of user I am (I also generally like the new interface; seems perfectly fine for me).

Hm, looks like I misremembered and there were only 6 types. The exact types are proprietary info but the original author gives a few examples here: https://www.quora.com/Gmail/What-are-the-six-types-of-email-...

I've just done a bit of googling around to try and find more on this. I've turned up a heap of references to the developers finding 6 different types of users during their 2 years of internal testing before launch. Alas no where is there actually a list of these 6 different types of users.

The doc in question was written by Kevin Fox who replied to this quora thread about it, but dodged the question claiming that the info isn't his to divulge.



I'm pretty sure I'm not on that list. I've never liked the way the gmail web client works.

* I've always disliked conversation view, and I keep ending up turning it off whenever I try it

* The lack of ability to sort emails is really annoying

* The layout of emails, particularly when trying to reply to an email, I find confusing - in particular it would make far more sense to have the text box at the top of the page

That being said, I probably dislike it less now than when I first started using it so I think the changes have generally been positive.

On a side note, I think Photoshop is also a UI disaster area.

* I've always disliked conversation view, and I keep ending up turning it off whenever I try it

>>I hated it deeply, thoroughly till I used it for a while. Now I can't live without it.

* The lack of ability to sort emails is really annoying

>>It took me some time to rely on search.

* The layout of emails, particularly when trying to reply to an email, I find confusing - in particular it would make far more sense to have the text box at the top of the page

>>Neutral on this.

> Most of the things that gmail makes hard (and when the author says hard he means an extra click)

You have to memorize where to do the extra click.

For example I tried to unsubscribe from a G+ community today and didn't find the unsubscribe button without a google search. I had to appeal to other websites to learn where the unsubscribe was buried. Same thing happened when I tried to cancel an automated monthly payment in PayPal - they fucking buried the page. Sometimes I have this problem when I try to help someone change a setting on his feature phone. Some essential items are under 5 levels of selection deep.

The main problem is that people don't know which one of the button hides what they seek. I liked the old interface much more. I'd like to have the option to remain with the old one.

Yes, yes, yes. What the fuck is going on with design/UX at gmail? It just becomes suckier progressively.

Yesterday I attached a document 3-4 times during the course of my writing the email because there is no way to know if a document has been attached already. But if you start uploading another document, it will list out the documents already attached. What an incredible fail. And sadly, this is a trend, not an edge case complaint.

This reeks of design-by-committee fail. It seems like an experience built on compromises to merely accommodate ideas of many different individuals even if those ideas together make the experience suckier.

This is what I see after attaching a file. What do you see?

Oops, forgot link: http://imgur.com/b3iW4p5

I feel like a lot of people are mistaking gmail's opinionated UI design for a design failure. Changing the subject isn't difficult because the designers failed at making it easy, it's difficult because the designers succeeded at making it difficult. They really, really don't want you to change the subject because consistent subject lines are essential to gmail's conversation threading functionality, so they've made it as difficult as possible.

similarly, the hiding of all the formatting options: they have all that space available, and they've quite deliberately chosen to hide things anyways. there's no way they just did it to make the compose window prettier, they want you to stop using so much formatting in your emails. Read the interview[1] with gmail's designer, they are trying to use a simpler UI to encourage faster and smaller responses and lower friction conversations. By and large, people are using email as a messaging tool, not to sit down and spend half an hour composing a letter, and they are adapting gmail to cater to this behaviour. you might disagree with their goals, but don't mistake your disagreement with their direction for a failure to advance their direction.


> They really, really don't want you to change the subject because consistent subject lines are essential to gmail's conversation threading functionality, so they've made it as difficult as possible.

So, as someone who doesn't use Gmail, I'm finding this (not just your mention of this, but others as well) confusing: what happened to In-Reply-To and References? I thought that using the Subject for threading was something you only did in a worst-case fallback scenario if you see something that looks like a reply but is somehow missing the required headers to establish the threading.

Well, whatever works for them. I've been using gmail since my '04 invite, but a few weeks ago I migrated to mail.com for web mail and bing for search. Google lured me in with the sparse simplicity of their search and webmail. If everything Google is getting bloated and broken (literal string "searches" in google search, fo example), I may as well disburse my online data to multiple places so no single entity has a full picture of my online behavior. I now can vote/comment on youtube without having those things tied to my identity (WTF, Google. If I didn't explicitly sign onto Youtube, don't fucking associate my gmail identity with Youtube!!!).

Anyway, I'm not trying to be hip or edgy. I just finally got tired of Google's feature creep and identity wrangling. So I switched to inferior competitors. Hasn't been too painful, though.

The one thing I'll keep a "real" identity presence on Google's services is "talk" just so I can converse with the few contacts who desire that venue, pretty much making that account similar to my token Yahoo and MSN accounts. I've managed to create a fake identity solely for my Android phone so I can get apps from Play.

While I am curious about Google's future, I've decided that I no longer want to be a part of it.

Google has been infected by the "minimalistic design" disease in the last few years. The term evidently means "hide everything from the user and present them with a pure white surface". It looks beautiful. The sensitive artist types running google UI now love that. Look at all that negative space. Orgasmic. Ship it.

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that attaching large images makes the composer completely unusable. It is so bad it makes me wonder if anyone in Google actually uses the new composer.

They've fixed one bug where the image wouldn't scale to fit the size of its container (i.e. if you had a 3000x3000px image it would render 1:1 as opposed to being shrunk down), but even with the scaling it's still incredibly hard to navigate emails with more than one picture in it. I mean, I have a 1080p monitor, let me use it!

To all the people complaining about text formatting in Gmail, I strongly recommend Markdown Here: https://github.com/adam-p/markdown-here. It lets you write emails as markdown and compile them to HTML in the email composition form. (I have mine bound to CTRL-ALT-Q). It works extremely well, I can easily store my emails in plain-text if I need to, I write emails in my text editor, and the Markdown utilities there make formatting much faster. It's great.

Chrome extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/markdown-here/elif... FF/Thunderbird extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/markdown-here...

As for the UI complaints, I haven't hit too many of them, but those that I have have been very irritating. I don't use an email signature ATM, but I have run into the hard-to-change-sending-address quite a bit (I use <email>+<category>@gmail.com quite a bit), and didn't even know you could do it until just now. I only started using Gmail recently, so I can't say if it's worse, though it seems to be from what I've heard.

I have new compose disabled. It's just more incompetent UI design from Google. Even their search page is bad. There are two menu bars after I run a search including two More drop downs and the poorly named Search Tools which seems to change frequently as they A/B test ever worse designs on me. I was hoping Marissa leaving would allow them to hire real designers.

I agree. I am annoyed by the two menu bars, and also +You thing. Further i used Google Scholar regularly, but now I cannot find it even in the drop down menu. I cannot customize those menu bars, according to my use case. Also, there used to be an option to search videos, instead it has now been replaced with a Youtube option. It is amazing, Google used to be so custom friendly, atleast I perceived them to be...and with advent of G+..........

You guys should see what they've done with Groups. :( The inmates have truly taken over the Googleplex asylum.

Well, no going back now. With upcoming Google Glass this behavior will become even more prevalent.

Considering Google made all those changes to make the experience better and managing mails easier for most people, I think the author should recognise that he's in the minority - an edge case - and maybe consider switching to an email client that suits his needs rather than whine about one that works just great for many other people.

How difficult would it be, though, for Google to hide some advanced options in settings for power users to enable? Always Expand Header, Always Expand Collapsed Content, etc.

When you're handling more than one or two emails in succession, every keyboard-shortcut that became a triple-click-drag adds up and takes time.

I don't believe the author is an extreme minority - Google should cater to all of its customers - requesting that Google add a few options to enable power user mode isn't unreasonable in the slightest.

I realize it's from a different product, but I find that these 'minority' cases in Google products are often summed up by:


"Why was this closed if we're leaving it for future consideration?"

"Because it's asking for an option and we don't do options."

And this, dear jen_h, is how we go about fixing the problem.

As far as I understand, these UI changes are there to empower "multitasking" and bring Gmail closer to the way social networks and chat work. Now, I loathe the new compose, I like writing my emails in a structured way, with proper formatting, which this new feature doesn't let me do easily (or comfortably); I often use them as reference for docs and whatnot.

I'm not saying this doesn't work for some people, but when I see that a large number of people I communicate with can barely read or write properly as it is, I fail to understand how empowering multitasking will make things any better. I'm a bit tired of the "social networks way" becoming the end-all, be-all.

"I'm a bit tired of the "social networks way" becoming the end-all, be-all."

Hear, Hear!

I hate receiving long, structured, intricately-formatted emails. If you're writing documents in an email body, don't: that's what Google Docs is for. A good email is as short as possible.

Honest question, why would someone use the gmail ui at all, even before the 2013 changes?

I have rules setup in gmail, and sometimes when I need _very good_ search I will login to search, but everything else Outlook covers fine/better. Mac guys at the office use Mail.

I've always thought of gmail.com as nice for vacations or using someone elses or crazy times when I dont have laptop/phone/tablet by some act of god

My personal response:

I use outlook for my work email, where I am an "inbox zero" guy. I get an average of around 10 emails a day, so this isn't hard.

I use gmail for my personal email addresses (I have a heap of gmail and other hosted accounts all pointing to one central gmail account). I get HEAPS of emails a day. I read the important ones and skim the rest by having my browser window nice and wide and just reading what is displayed on the inbox screen. I treat my gmail inbox unread emails count as a highscore. I have 12,440 unread emails in my gmail inbox. I'm winning my little game.

Hmm, I agree with much of the OP's criticisms of Gmail, however I consider Outlook and Mail to be effective forms of torture.

Conversation view. It just makes complete sense to me, and since I've started using it, all desktop clients that I've tried (Thunderbird, most recently) have felt awkward. Geary is the only desktop client I've seen embrace the idea, but it's not quite there yet.

Plus, I quite like the undo send extension.

Because it's easier to log in via a web browser than it is to install and configure outlook.

As always, I feel like people are more averted to a change to a product than the product itself. People complain in droves about how "everything is RUINED" in Facebook or Gmail, but simple fact of the matter is that you can do far more in both than ever before.

Gmail features like fulltext label search make me prefer it over almost every other email client. And the author's comment about it being "too hard to change the subject" is by design, because it both breaks threading and pisses people off when you change the subject of an ongoing thread. New subject? Write a new email, idiot.

Every UI designer knows the backstory of the QWERTY keyboard, how the designers arranged the keys to intentionally slow down the users, to prevent typing errors.

Well, Gmail's new pop-up Compose window makes me wonder if designers sometimes need to create interfaces that slow down users' cognitive processes as well.

In theory, it's more efficient to write emails using the pop-up window because you can easily reference other messages. But in practice it makes me less productive because I feel distracted by seeing all of the other messages.

Actually, the QWERTY-layout made typing a lot faster, since the keys didn't jam together.

Gmail is the application which has made me realize a big weakness of web applications. The web was supposed to make "application upgrades" painless and instant. After GMail's recent changes, I would really love to "download old version of Gmail"; however its web, I can't do that!

I was given the option to go back to the old version..?

So was I, and I took it, and I'm still using the old version. Thankfully. The day they force me onto the new version I'll go back to Thunderbird, using the gmail backend only as a searchable archive.

The biggest disappointment was to kill drag and drop attachments. Now you have to click the paper clip and pick the picture (one by one!) form your PC.

In my opinion that's an indication that Google wants to discourage you from adding a lot of attachments to your mail because they don't make money off the bandwidth you are using. To me its another indication that Gmail at some point in near future may be doomed to sunset.

Bang On. I encountered this a week before too. I had to pick the pictures, drag and drop just in-lined them. On attaching the pictures, there was hardly any space in the window left to write any words. I am in transition to another email provider, but I am being forced to do so, and at a critical juncture for me personally.

Seriously I don't want to inline pictures sometimes. And guess what? If you delete it? You don't know if the picture is still attached because there is no visual feedback. Try it.

1. hit c 2. drag a picture into email 3. delete picture from email body 4. now i don't know if it's in attachment still or just removed from body.

Yes. I had to double check too, since the pictures were of wide dimensions. I totally agree with the original post, I am also personally annoyed by this change. Another thing i hate is how it hides the "sent from" address, when the text focus is in the body. I use lots of emails aliases, and want to double check the address that I am sending the e-mail from. I have to click on the field, to see the address again. It is just one more click involved, instead of a glance.

This is exactly why, I am moving onto outlook.com or maybe as another poster suggested use it as a spam filter and set up my stuff.

Drag and drop still works for me.

Well it did not and does not not work for me. I am talking about images here.

"I can’t easily change my email subject." This is so crucial since threads are created using the subject. Easily the most frustrating thing about Gmail.

SHOW THE SUBJECT! I have sent 3 emails before which all said "TIME SENSITIVE" only to find out later, that only the first was really time sensitive. For non-gmail users getting those emails, this is terrible.

There is a tradeoff in HCI that is between ease and efficiency. It seems Gmail is less easy to use AND less efficient. The only improvement seems to be design.

Speaking as an Interaction Design student, please don't confuse looks with design - the whole article is essentially about how the author thinks this is bad interface design.

I don't know if anyone else has this problem but since I use VI for code editing I have a twitch reaction to hit escape a lot when I'm editing text.

This actually closes the compose window now. Which is incredibly frustrating. I know it's not a mainstream user problem just something that effect my perception of Gmail on a daily basis.

If you use firefox, try the "it's all text" plugin (although I don't know for sure if it works with the new gmail compose). You can write in the editor of your choice.

Nope, new compose breaks that as well, and it used to work fine. Guess it's finally time to switch to mutt.

There is a hotkey editor in labs which you might find handy.

Settings > labs > Custom keyboard shortcuts

if you are on a Mac you can use QuickCursor and edit your mail in vi :) it works in any application that uses a standard Cocoa text box. http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/quickcursor

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