How to Change GMail Appearance & Background Look

Ads by Google

In one informal talk between MakeUseOf authors, everybody said that checking email is one of the few first things they do in the morning after waking up. Most people that I know always check their incoming messages regularly. Some even have to know their inbox status all the time that they have bought themselves a mobile phone with push email capabilities. This shows how inseparable our lives are with the thing that we call electronic mail.

I am also the member of those email junkies. And given the nature of my mobile work, I prefer to use webmail instead of desktop client. This choice enables me to check my email anytime and anywhere no matter what device that I use.

Speaking of webmail, Google Mail is one of the popular choices for many internet users. As per July 2009, there are about 146 million users who stare at their Gmail inbox every month. If you are one of the users who has been using Gmail since it become available for general public (February 2007), it means that you’ve stared at more or less the same old inbox interface for over two and a half years (roughly about a thousand days or so). And the number is multiplied for those who’s been using Gmail since the “invitation only” beta release back in April 2004.

change gmail appearance

Have you ever felt bored of the look?

How to change the Gmail appearence

The Gmail interface is not bad. I guess it’s designed with efficiency and practicality in mind. But it’s not the prettiest thing either. Most Gmail users just accept the sight that they’ve got everytime they log into their account. They have never noticed that they can change the theme of the Gmail interface if they wanted to.

Ads by Google

Here’s how to change your Gmail theme.

  • Click “Settings” on the top right corner of the page
  • Choose the Themes tab
  • Choose one of the available Gmail themes. Among them are “Random” (if you want Google to pick one for you) or “Choose your own colors“.
  • There are themes that will change based on your location. If this is the case, you have to provide the necessary information.
  • Here’s what my inbox looks like with Graffiti theme.
  • If you choose the option to choose your own color, you’ll have a new window appear with several editable fields. If you bring your mouse to the left side of the field, a small arrow will appear. Click on this arrow and you’ll have a color picker box popping out. You can choose your preferred color combination for your Gmail theme.

    change gmail background

    Using Firefox add-on

    Beside using the available themes provided by Google, there is another way to change your Gmail appearance and background: using a Firefox add-on. Even though this method will limit the facial-lift to Firefox only, the new refreshing look is worth a peek.

    I stumbled upon this one add-on called Google Redesigned purely by coincidence. As the name suggested, activating this add on will completely redesign the look of three popular Google applications (Mail, Reader and Calendar) under Firefox. Each app has its own style and each style can be used individually or together as a group.

    This is achieved by using Cascading StyleSheet (CSS) files which are loaded on the client’s browser. Google Redesigned does not use any remote images, however it does load style sheets from a remote server. Users can manually update the themes by clicking the Google Redesigned logo at the bottom of the Firefox window and choose “Check for style updates“.

    This is the look of Gmail using Google Redesigned under Firefox.

    gmail appearance change

    gmail background change

    While you’re at it, why not add another Firefox add-on called Integrated Gmail that will combine Google Mail, Google Reader and Google Calendar all on one page?

    Have you changed the look of your Gmail? Do you know of any other methods to give your inbox a new look?

    Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
    Mozilla Firefox Fans
    Mozilla Firefox Fans
    10 Members
    Safari Browser Tips
    Safari Browser Tips
    7 Members
    Internet Explorer (IE) Tips
    Internet Explorer (IE) Tips
    2 Members
    Best Mobile Browsers
    Best Mobile Browsers
    7 Members
    Google Chrome Mastery
    Google Chrome Mastery
    5 Members
    Ads by Google
    Comments (7)
    • Trevor

      I use Helvetimail (a greasemonkey script) and Gina Trapani’s Better Gmail 2 firefox extension. Very clean and minimalist.

    • Hannes

      1) Brand new: Gmail Minimalist: http://bit.ly/2ngfZ8
      2) Google Redesigned 3 makes scrolling in GReader a bit jerky. Nice look anyway but it’s all about ergonomics and that’s why I won’t use it. Would be handy if you could switch of for GReader.

    Affiliate Disclamer

    This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

    For more details, please read our disclosure.
    Affiliate Disclamer

    This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

    For more details, please read our disclosure.