Gmail’s New Look: Better Search, Adapts For Size

Gmail has started rolling out its snappy new interface to the world at large (if you don’t see it yet, you’ll eventually see a “Switch to the new look” link in the bottom-right of Gmail), and it’s a serious overhaul of the look and feel of Gmail. Here’s what you can expect:

The whole redesign is in line with all the latest Google app redesigns (like yesterday’s Google Reader update), which means cleaner looks and a lot more white space.

  • Email thread overhaul: First, Google has redesigned the email threads, adding profile pictures to your contacts and paring down the clutter.
  • Elastic density: Google has added a feature called “elastic density”, which essentially means that the interface dynamically expands or contracts depending on the size of your Gmail window. If you don’t like the adjustment, you can manually override the display density from the cog near the top right of the conversation window.
  • Better search: The search improvement is probably what I’m most excited about. You click into the search box, and it drops down a more detailed advanced search box to help you specify to/from fields, subject, word inclusion and exclusion, attachments, and best of all, a date search. (Gmail’s date operators have always been extremely tough to wrangle.)
  • Customisable sidebar: You can now resize the navigation sections in the left sidebar to arrange them however you’d like. Prefer keeping your Chat sidebar more visible? You can make it bigger.
  • New themes: Last (and least), Google has improved Gmail’s themes (or rather, background image skins), so you can set your Gmail background to pretty pictures. They look nice, but we’ve always found those background images a little tough to deal with when you’re actually using Gmail.

Again, if you aren’t seeing the “Switch to the new look” link just yet, be patient. Gmail rollouts always take some time, so it could be a few hours, a few days, or a couple of weeks before you see it.

Gmail’s new look [Official Gmail Blog]

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