The New Gmail and Your Grandma

by francine Hardaway on November 8, 2011

As an early adopter, I sit in front of new software and new apps every day. I look mostly for things that will help the startups and small businesses we coach at Stealthmode.So of course I manually switched to the new look at Gmail, after playing with the new look for Google Reader. While many people complained about the new Google Reader, I found it cleaner and easier to use. I share things mostly on Twitter and Facebook or G+, so I found I still had my social options. If you are looking for them, they are under “send to.”

Gmail is another story entirely. I have one of those dual screen setups, and I have two accounts, one for myself on my larger display, and one for ZEDO, with whom I am currently working, on a smaller screen. ZEDO has GoogleApps. When I work, I keep Gmail open for myself in Chrome, and and GoogleApps open in Safari for monitoring ZEDO.

No one from Google told me there were three different settings to display the new version of Gmail: Comfortable (for larger displays), Cozy, and Compact. The default view when I switched was “Comfortable” on both screens, and I couldn’t keep the threads together on the smaller screen. I would have loved to know I could have set the smaller one up in “Cozy” or even “Compact.”

Last night I finally discovered, through TWiG, that there’a a little flywheel in the upper right of the Gmail screen that lets you set the displays.

Not to mention the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to delete a message in the new display. Or how to reply. Only when you select a message and look above it do you see the little trash can, and the other options.

The threading is also new, and although I like it now, it takes a while to get used to.

Like almost everyone else, I’m down with the idea of making all the Google Apps uniform in appearance, creating a universal login, and connecting everything to Google+. It is appealing to think of an online suite similar to what Microsoft has said with office.

But Gmail is used by many people like my son and daughter-in-law who are not early adopters, who are not technical, and have no time to learn software. When they have to make the change, they will be stunned, I am sure.


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