Switch to Gmail's new look?
Nov. 2, 2011 at 11:13 AM ET
New HD themes for the updated Gmail
While Gmail's new design has been leaked for months through a video that wasn't supposed to debut before Nov. 1, it's now official, and you can switch to a new look if you want to take advantage of more streamlined conversations, HD themes and better navigation and search.
You can change it up by clicking on the "Switch to the new look" link you'll see in the bottom-right corner of your Gmail homepage.
I switched this morning and already find it a little easier to handle, and better looking too. It floats messages on top of an "HD" theme, but in a manner that makes it possible to still see both email and image clearly. I chose one of the 10 new themes ("Beach," or you could choose "Turf," as seen above) and started playing around with the new design. Your existing themes will carry over, as well, but unlike HD themes, they generally don't have a continuous texture across the whole window. You don't appear to be able to upload your own art — at least not yet.
Gmail's new streamlined conversations
Here are some other highlights:
- Streamlined conversations: Expanding conversations now gives you profile pics of contacts, so it's a little easier to keep track of who's saying what, and it's easier to view longer threads this way. (At least it seemed that way to me, after pulling up a conversation with 21 messages.)
- "Elastic density": Now you can adjust the space between subject lines as they're displayed, from Compact to Cozy to Comfortable. For instance, I don't need double spacing between messages, so I changed mine to the middle setting, "Cozy." As Jason Cornwell, User Experience Designer, explains on the Official Google Blog, "We know that you use Gmail from a variety of screen sizes and devices, so now the spacing between elements on the screen will automatically change based on the kind of display you’re using."
- "Smarter" navigation: The navigation panel on the left now has more options for customization. "You can resize the labels and chat areas if you want to see more, or hide the chat area entirely via the chat icon in the lower left. You can also use the arrow keys to navigate around the interface." So if you use the labels more, expand that. Chat more, expand that. But apparently, even if you do nothing, Gmail will adapt to your patterns.
- More search options: Now you can click on the drop down menu for search within Gmail and be more specific about what you're looking for, using email fields and filters.
Search close-up for updated Gmail
You can read more about the upgrade here.
And while we showed the video when it was leaked, here it is again:
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