Switch to Gmail basic HTML with a simple URL change

HTML view

Rather than needing to use any menus or special links, you can just change the URL from:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/…

to:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/…

(where the 0 increments if you are switching between more than one account.)

Mobile view <– recommended

https://mail.google.com/mail/mu/mp/180/#mn

This is the same web app you’ll get in iOS on Safari.  It uses JS, it looks modern, and it’s very fast.  Disadvantages on desktop: you can only see a few messages at a time and there’s a seriously cutdown feature set – e.g. you can’t format or add attachments when composing – though most of the keyboard shortcuts work for navigating folders, searching, starting a new message (but again, not for formatting text).

However, the lack of bloat is a big deal – both from the lack of sluggishness when switching to a pinned tab of your inbox – also the mobile view is exactly what most people would have in mind when describing as a “distraction free” email environment, with the lack of menus, navigation bars, icons etc. (Even the plain HTML view is quite “busy” in this respect.)   You can switch back to desktop at any point via the settings menu.

I recommend using a browser custom stylesheet to make the width sensible on large monitors (unfortunately .Yg is the only useful CSS class that Google add to the page, you may need to apply it only to the Gmail site via a browser extension):

 html.Yg body {
  width: 600px;
  margin: 0 auto!important;
}

 

Benefits / situations where basic HTML or mobile views are useful:

  • poor connections
  • reduced memory usage (I had a Gmail tab that had been open for only a few hours, and switching to basic HTML cut memory use from 445MB to just over 200MB)
  • potential battery savings on mobile