January 7, 2012

Typical Problems With Gmail's "New Look"

This article contains a list of the more common problems that people have reported after switching to the "New Look" for Gmail* and the typical solution for those problems.  If you are having problems with the new look, skim through the list and try any solutions listed.

Issues specific to the aesthetics of the new look (colors, contrast, icons, etc) are towards the end of the article as they are different from things that are actually broken (don't work).

Please note:  the "new look" was a change to the overall look-and-feel of Gmail that took place around the start of 2012.  The "new compose format"  (also called the "new compose experience") is a change to the look and feel of the Compose, Reply, and Forward operations that took place around the end of 2012.  This article deals with the new look.  For the new compose format, see the article here:  http://gmail-tips.blogspot.com/2012/10/changes-to-gmail-compose.html



The following items deal with functional problems (things that are broken).



If you are using Internet Explorer version 8 or 9 and...
  • The right side of the page is cut off with no horizontal scroll bar.
  • Up/down scrolling of lists and open messages is unresponsive, not working at all or very slow and jerky.
  • No check-boxes in list view, small or empty buttons with no icon displayed on them, or lists shifted to the right.
  • Contacts are slow to respond in list view, and individual records don't open when clicked.
  • Rich formatting toolbar icons arranged vertically down left hand side in the Compose/Reply/Forward windows.
  • Settings are not visible: the page is empty except for a sliver down the right hand edge but with no horizontal scroll bar.
Then you need to...
  1. Click the Tools menu and choose Compatibility View Settings
  2. Remove google.com from the big text box.  If it's not there, some people have found that adding google.com and then disabling it works
  3. Uncheck the three checkboxes under the text box ("Include Updated Website lists from Microsoft," "Display intranet sites in Compatibility view" and "Display all websites in Compatibility view.") or Microsoft will just switch CV back on again next time you start IE.
  4. Restart IE.

If you notice that:
  • Formatting Toolbar missing in the Compose/Reply/Forward windows and the Check Spelling link is missing.
  • Text links to empty the Trash and Spam are missing.
  • No Add Contact button and the user sees only Compose and Delete buttons as options.
  • Multiple unknown contacts with greyed out addresses.
  • No "Move To" button (only "Label").
  • There is no Gear icon to change the settings.
Then you are not in the "New Look" but instead are in the Basic html version of Gmail.  This is often due to using an older or unsupported browser version.  You will need to:
  • Upgrade your browser to the current version.
  • Install a supported browser, like Firefox or Chrome.
  • Disable any extensions or add-ons to see if they are masking the browser's version (causing Gmail to default to the Basic version).
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on standard in the line that says:
    Gmail view: standard | basic HTML  Learn more

  • There is no content when messages are opened.
  • Update AdBlock Plus subscriptions (PC) or filters (Mac)

  • All the messages are not visible.
  • The page-forward ">" and page-back "<" buttons are missing.
The means that Settings->Inbox is set to one of the modes other than Classic and has nothing to do with the old/new look.
  • Go to Settings->Inbox and set it to Classic.
  • Click on the "1-10 of many" link to open that sub-section to see all the messages.

  • Empty Inbox with a distorted button bar at the bottom of the screen, and/or no left-hand sidebar
  • Disable the "Integrated Gmail" add-on.

  • Labels are missing or overwritten
  • Adjust the position of sidebar label/chat separator line by dragging it up/down.
  • Collapse Chat using the bubble icon at the bottom.

  • Button bar scrolls off the top instead of remaining fixed
  • Go to Settings->Labs and disable "Multiple Inboxes".

  • The Send button is missing.
  • The compose window can scroll up hiding Send under the control buttons (fixed bar). Scroll the window down until the Send button is visible.

  • The People Widget is not displayed correctly.
  • Go to Settings->Labs and disable "Auto Advance".

  • The links to Calendar, Documents, and other products are missing at the top.
  • This is the new navagation bar (unrelated to the new look). Hover over the Gmail icon and the list of products should appear in the pop-up list.

  • The Forward link at then end of each message is missing.
  • To forward a specific message use the drop-down menu next to Reply (which has a curved arrow icon) and select Forward..

If your problem is not covered by anything above, that is:
  • Something is simply wrong
Then try the following typical solutions:
  • Clear your browser's cache and cookies and restart it
  • Test it in another supported browser or on another computer to see if it behaves the same.
  • Temporarily disable your anti-virus scanner to see if the behavior changes.
  • Temporarily disable all labs by logging in with the link: https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0
  • Temporarily disable any browser extensions or add-ons.



The following items deal with aesthetic issues (how things look, not how they work).



  • The colors used and the lack of contrast makes Gmail too hard to use.
  • Go to Settings->Themes and select "High Contrast".
  • Experiment with other themes listed in Settings->Themes
  • Try the Basic html version of Gmail:  http://mail.google.com/mail?ui=html

  • There is too much wasted white-space and it lists less messages than the old look did.
  • Use the Gear icon drop-down menu and try changing the Density setting to Compact.


The following are for "expert" users who are comfortable adding extensions or add-ons to their browser.  They only apply to Firefox and Chrome users.

Note that just as switching to the new look created problems with various browser extensions and add-ons (as noted above) the following could also become out-of-date or create problems and Google continues to make changes in Gmail.  They are not supported or endorsed by Google.  Use at your own risk.











A special thanks to the other GMail Top Contributors who helped me pull this information together.

* Gmail is a trademark of Google, Inc. This page is not sponsored by or affiliated with Google.