Simplify Gmail v2 Sneak Peek

There are so many improvements in Simplify v2, I’m seriously struggling with where to start. I also want to get into the details and explain the changes I’m making, but that takes time away from finishing Simplify v2.

So today, I’m going to rip the band-aid off and give you a glimpse into what is coming. I won’t get too much into the details this time but I do have screenshots! I’m also going to experiment with leaving comments open to hear your thoughts and feedback.

First off, Simplify v2 is a total rewrite / redesign of Simplify. I’m doing this to improve the experience from all angles:

  • Improved reliability and performance

  • Improved design and enabling new features

  • Improved maintenance (fix issues faster when Gmail changes)

Two areas that really show off how big of an update Simplify v2 is and don’t require a lot of explanation are Reading Pane and Settings.

Simplify Gmail Reading Pane

Reading Pane in Gmail today without Simplify:
Functional but… Icons are everywhere. I’ve got three bars above my content. The actions are far away from the message. The pagination controls look like they will go to the next message when they actually go to the next page of messages. And can we talk about that haggle-tooth notch from the tabs hanging out over the transparent scrollbar?

Reading Pane with Simplify v1:
Simplify v1 made things a little better but… Search is a lot smaller now and far away from the list of messages. The actions are far away from the message. We now only have two bars but the tabs still take up a lot of space. The compose and add-ons buttons are on top of the message. We still have a lot of zebra striping in the list of messages between read state and focused message. We can do better.

Reading Pane with Simplify v2:
Now that’s more like it. Honestly, I didn’t design this as much as I brought the already great design from Gmail on an iPad to desktop.

Simplify Gmail Settings

Here is Gmail Settings today.
I can’t tell you how sad Gmail Settings makes me. Much of it is the exact same as it was in 2007 when I joined the Gmail team. Do I really need to see all of Gmail’s chrome when in settings? The horizontal tabs stopped working a long time ago. Why is everything so densely packed? Why is the Save / Cancel button off screen if I have to save before leaving?

Gmail Settings with Simplify v1:
With Simplify v1, all I did was apply a max-width to the page and hide the rest of Gmail’s interface. It is better looking, but I didn’t fix many of the core issues.

Gmail Settings with Simplify v2:
This time I dug in and tried to fix some of my grievances with Gmail Settings. The Save / Cancel buttons are pinned to the bottom right. The tabs are left tabs now. And There is more space between the settings. Gmail could still make this a lot better but I don’t hate going to Setting any more.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments…

Hopefully that gives you a taste of what is in store with Simplify v2 and why I’m so excited to get it finished and out to everyone.

There are a lot of changes I didn’t dig into this time that are hinted at in the above screenshots. (Where is chat? Where are the add-ons? Where is the settings gear and the reading-pane toggle?) Those will have to wait for future posts but I promise I’m looking at everything and only adding functionality, never removing it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments or you can always email me at

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