Gmail has undergone a design refresh and it's available as an optional switch before it gets rolled out. Here are six of the prominent new features that make using Gmail faster & more fun.
- New toolbar: Gone is the plain toolbar that had simple grey buttons. It is now replaced by a new intutive toolbar that shows neat, space-saving icons. while viewing the inbox, the toolbar will only show a selection box, refresh icon and a 'more' button that offers the option to 'mark all as read'
When you select or open a mail, the toolbar changes to show icons for archive, delete, report spam, move or assign a label. For a smoother transition from old to new styles, the placement order of the icons has not been changed.
- Inbox view customization's: Gmail has worked on providing a more comfortable view for the inbox. You can now adjust how dense the inbox looks in Settings >Display density. There are three options to choose from - Comfortable, Cozy and Compact to choose from.
Comfortable gives you the largest font size - great if you have a large display (20 inches or more). Cozy reduces size for medium sized devices - notebooks with 13.3 to 17-inch displays. Compact view compresses the view further and is best suited for smaller displays such as those on netbooks (12-inch or smaller).
- Streamlined conversations: Reading mails is much easier with the new interface. Email conversations now indicate the total number of messages sent and received between the first and the last mail. Each mail in the conversation displays a profile picture of the sender - for easier identification.
Icons have replaced most of the text buttons and other than the reply/reply to all icon on the right side, all the other icons are hidden and can only be accessed via a drop-down menu. The quick reply box at the bottom now has shortcuts to reply, reply to all or forward. 'Show quoted text' has been removed and in its place is a small icon - click it to show trimmed content.
- Upfront inbox type: Hovering the mouse pointer over the 'inbox' label shows a drop down arrow with the option to choose an inbox 'style'. There are five inbox types including 'Classic' (the conventional Gmail), 'Important first' (all mail from contacts marked as important will show first), 'Unread first' and 'Starred first'.
The last style, 'Priority inbox', splits your mails into various heads. Unread, important and starred mails are shown with relevant headers while the rest are placed under a single header that says 'Everything else'. More options to customise inbox styles (items per page, unread mail count, visibility of unread markers) is available in account settings.
- The re-worked sidebar: Mail, Contacts and Tasks are now in a drop down box on top instead of as separate text links. The chat window can be resized by simply dragging the adjustment bar up /down. However, your labels remain intact and as soon as you hover the mouse pointer over them, it automatically brings up all the labels, pushing the chat window down.
To provide a more concise view, additional widgets such as calendar, 'invite a friend' and so on are no longer below the chat window. Instead there is a small button below the chat window to switch between chat and widgets - there's no need to scroll up/down to view the widgets.
- Powerful search features: A single magnifying glass icon replaces both 'Search Mail' and 'Search the Web' buttons. As you type in the search box, you get the option to search mail or the web - quite like Google's instant search. The advanced search box can be accessed by clicking on the drop down arrow visible at the end of the search box.
You can now search mail with various pre-defined criteria including labels, keywords, with/without attachment and within a date range -without leaving the inbox. You can also create a filter from within the advanced search box with these criteria and apply it to all the matching email conversations in your mailbox.