How to Make the Ugly New Gmail Pretty Again

Instead of just sitting around and complaining on Twitter about the new Gmail, do something about it. 

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Instead of just sitting around and complaining on Twitter about the new Gmail, do something about it. Google might not have won you over with its new look. Instead of reverting back to old Gmail, which might not last, here are some tricks to iron out the ugly.

Color Differentiated Email Threads

The new Gmail eliminated the alternating grey-to-white in email conversations. As you can see below, it's hard to differentiate one e-mail from the next.
To get the color coding back, Chrome and Firefox users can install the Alternating Message Colors user script. Simply click "download user script" or download the Stylish for Chrome or Stylish for Firefox clients and click "Install With Sylish." It downloads directly to your browser and voila: colors. All extensions can be accessed under the "extensions" in your browser settings, under tools.

White Space Be Gone

Google called the new design "cleaner, more modern," but many have found that aesthetic too spacious. An easy fix is to change the "display density" to compact. Just click on the settings gear icon on the top right corner above the inbox. There it will have three display density options.

Clicking "compact" will make it look like this.
You can also make Gmail even more compact by downloading the Gmail Compact userscript. The density must remain at compact for it to kick in, though. Update: It seems that this super-compact option eliminates the navigation and search bars. Don't freak out: just type 'h' and they show up.

Chat Box Problem

Yesterday, The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal complained that his gchat boxes creeped on to his emails. Even just one chat obscures part of an email body.
We haven't discovered a way to fix this in Gmail. But, as Madrigal mentions, a third party chat client will do the trick and so much more. We recommend Google Talk for PC users and Adium for Mac users, which are both AIM-esque clients. These eliminate the chat-in-email problem and make chatting with a bunch of people a lot easier, in general.

No More Ads Above the Inbox

Nobody likes to look at ads. Under the Gmail settings gear we visited earlier, the "Web Clips" tab offers the option to get rid of these ads altogether by unchecking the box.

Illuminate the Ghostly Scrollbar

With new Gmail it is hard to see the scrollbar on many of the new themes. The Visible Scrollbar script makes the right hand scroll bar blue, which for my Bus Stop theme doesn't really make it that much better against the blue sky. But with other less blue oriented themes, it should do the trick.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.