How To Make The New Gmail Sidebar Stay In Place And Other Tricks

The recent Gmail redesign has worked incredibly well. The system remains as simple to use as ever but has added some neat new features and quality of life improvements that makes using Google’s email system easier than ever. A common question I keep seeing in the SwipeTips mailbox is about the sidebar. More specifically, how to make the Gmail sidebar stay in place. I will show you that and a few other Gmail tricks while you’re here.


Email Basics

I like that Google are trying to keep things fresh. Microsoft did it with Outlook and other apps are constantly refining their look and feel. We come to expect a process of constant change from our apps and consider an app dated if it doesn’t update. Gmail has got it right, with enough changes to be fresh but not so many that it loses its simplicity or ease of use.

So let’s get on with those Gmail tricks.

Make the new Gmail sidebar stay in place

The Gmail sidebar is one of the most useful features of the service, offering easy access to emails, trash, drafts, filters and a whole lot more. If you use Hangouts, the sidebar is where you go for that too.

If you find your sidebar keeps disappearing, there may be a good reason for that. It dynamically disappears on smaller screens to allow more screen for the actual emails. Unless you set it to manually stay in place, it will always slide to the side.

To make the Gmail sidebar stay in place, all you have to do is select the three line menu icon at the top left by the Gmail logo. When you’re done, shut Gmail down with the menu extended and it should still be there the next time you log in.

Change Gmail inbox display density

One new change to Gmail is inline attachments. It means you can open an email attachment from within the mail rather than opening it in another app. The downside is that it can make your inbox look strange. Emails will all have different heights which makes things look messy. If you prefer a tidy inbox, you can set it to the more tidy one mail, one line setting.

  1. Select the gear icon in the top right of your Gmail inbox.
  2. Select Display Density from the menu and select a setting.

Comfortable returns your inbox to the standard one mail, one line configuration while Default will show the different thicknesses to emails. Compact takes the comfortable setting and compresses it for smaller screens.

Mark email as unread

Read an email but want to go back to it later? Marking an email as unread won’t stop read receipts but it will prompt you to look at it again when you have the time. It’s a useful trick for those with busy inboxes and who forget emails.

  1. Hover over the email in your Inbox and notice the icons to the right.
  2. Select the envelope icon to Mark as Unread.

You can also mark a email as unread from within the email. Select the three dot menu icon within the mail, select Mark as Unread From Here.

Snooze an email in Gmail

Snoozing is another organizational feature that helps you manage your inbox. It can achieve the same goal as marking as unread but will cause the email to disappear from your inbox only to reappear at a given time. If you prefer this approach, you can snooze an email in the same way you mark it as unread.

  1. Hover over the email in your Gmail inbox.
  2. Select the clock icon that appears on the right.
  3. Select a time from the list or manually set one.

The email will be removed from the inbox and will reappear at the given date and time. If you need the email again, check the new Snoozed section in the left menu.

Prioritize your inbox in Gmail

The default setting is the newest email last in your inbox. For the most part this works perfectly well. If it doesn’t work for you, the inbox can be ordered in other ways too.

  1. Hover over Inbox on the left menu until the small down arrow appears to the right of it.
  2. Select that arrow to access a dialog menu.
  3. Change the inbox from Default to another setting to see if that works better.

If the chronological setup doesn’t work for you, you can prioritize emails marked important first, show unread first or starred emails first. Set your inbox up in whatever way works best for you.

The changes to Gmail have been modest but well chosen. One of the best free email services has just gotten a little better and I think easier to use too. What do you think?