How to almost restore the “GMail Classic” Interface

Well — Google has forced us to use their “new and improved” GMail interface … What’s with everyone changing interfaces? Ubunu brings in Unity, Gnome drops 2.x for 3.x, Microsoft Windows 8 looks like a “tonka toy” interface, and now Google forces this “improved” GMail user interface.

Well for those who thought that the original was just fine, thank you very much … here’s how to pretty closely approximate “GMail Classic”.

First, you need to be using Google Chrome or Firefox as you have to install a browser extension. The extension names are the same, but I’ll be discussing the Chrome method here. This “fix” will have to be repeated on every computer where you use GMail since extensions do not propagate across browsers like links & preferences do in Google Chrome.

First, the hieroglyphic icons are very confusing to me so if they are for you as well, change the icon-buttons back to <TEXT> style buttons: Go to SETTINGS (click the GEAR in the upper right of your GMail page to find SETTINGS in the drop down box) and on the GENERAL Tab go down to BUTTON LABELS and select “Text”. Apply the settings.

Second, the default text density is too low to effectively read e-mail previews: Click the GEAR in the upper right of your GMail page and select “compact” so that more text is on the screen. This text density matches that used in “GMail Classic”.

Ok, now for the big one … first you have to install a chrome Extension.

Install this extension (Make sure it’s written by Jason Barnabe): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/stylish

Stylish is just a framework that allows you to then install custom styles for specific webpages, like Youtube, or Gmail, etc. You now have to install the “Gmail Classic” custom style for the GMail webpage.

Visit this URL: http://userstyles.org/styles/62621/gmail-messages-rounded-and-compressed. This is a page that allows you to install a custom style into the extension you just installed.

If you visit the webpage above before installing the Stylish Extension, it’ll show you the page but you won’t see an INSTALL icon on the top right of the page. However, once the Stylish Extension is installed and activated, when you visit the link above you should see an INSTALL icon.

Once you install that custom style, just refresh your GMAIL page and enjoy a close approximation of GMail Classic!

You can disable this extension easily by just clicking on the wrench in the upper right of your Chrome browser, and then click on SETTINGS. From there, go down to EXTENSIONS and you’ll see the Stylish extension. You can easily disable it right there and all you’ll have to do is refresh your GMail page and it’ll revert back to the “new” GMail interface.

If at the EXTENSIONS menu, you instead click the OPTIONS link, you’ll open a browser tab to the “Old GMail” custom style. There, you can check for an update to the style (if one exists) or surgically disable the custom style, while leaving the Stylish extension activated.

This custom style is by no means perfect and needs polishing. But it’s close enough for me to keep my sanity!

Oh, and if you want to browse other custom styles for GMail that work with the Stylish Extension, visit this page: http://userstyles.org/styles/browse/all/gmail

Enjoy!