5 Gmail Annoyances You Really Hate (and How to Fix Them)
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Gmail is one of the most popular email providers The Top 6 Popular Free Email Providers Online Other Than Gmail & Yahoo The Top 6 Popular Free Email Providers Online Other Than Gmail & Yahoo If you don't want a Gmail account, what choices do you have? There are some other good alternative email services you can consider even though Google has the biggest share of the inbox. Read More in the world. Along with Outlook and Yahoo, it forms part of a triumvirate of services that control more than 90 percent of the planet’s email market.

However, for an app with more than a billion active monthly users, it can be surprisingly annoying. There are lots of little glitches you need to overcome. Occasionally, they can be bad enough to hinder your productivity.

In this article, we’re going to look at five of the worst Gmail annoyances. Some of them can be solved using workarounds and third-party apps, some of them you’ll just have to live with.

1. Sorting Emails

Let’s picture the scene. You’ve just returned home from an extended vacation, and you’re overwhelmed with new messages in your inbox. Rather than sorting the messages by date, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to quickly sort the list by sender, size, or subject?

Yes, threaded conversations sort of help, but they’re not ideal. The bottom line is that Gmail lacks a way to sort your messages with a single click.

The Workarounds

There are several workarounds, depending what metric you want to sort by.

Sort by Sender: If you want to find emails from someone, type from:[sender’s name] in the Gmail search box.

For a more complex solution, you can use a script. It’ll sort any emails on the current page by sender.

If you’re running Chrome, go to your Gmail inbox, press F12 to activate Developer Tools, then paste the following code into the box. On other browsers, paste it directly into your address box while looking at your Gmail inbox.

!function(){function e(e){var t,a,n,r,l=e.getElementsByTagName("td");for(n=0;n<l.length;n++){if("xY a4W"==l[n].className)for(t=l[n].getElementsByTagName("div"),r=0;r<t.length;r++)if("y6"==t[r].className&&(a=t[r].getElementsByTagName("span"),a.length))return a[0].innerHTML;if(l[n].hasAttribute("role")&&"link"==l[n].getAttribute("role"))for(t=l[n].getElementsByTagName("div"),r=0;r<t.length;r++)if("y6"==t[r].className&&(a=t[r].getElementsByTagName("span"),a.length))return a[0].innerHTML}return""}function t(e,t){return e=e[0].toLowerCase(),t=t[0].toLowerCase(),t>e?-1:e>t?1:0}function a(a){var n=Array.prototype.slice.call(a.getElementsByTagName("tr"),0);if(n.length){for(var r=n[0].parentNode,l=[],g=0;g<n.length;g++)l[g]=[e(n[g]),n[g]];for(l=l.sort(t),g=0;g<l.length;g++)r.appendChild(l[g][1])}}for(var n=document.getElementsByTagName("table"),r=0;r<n.length;r++)if("F cf zt"==n[r].className){a(n[r]);break}}();

Note: This code only sorts the current page of your inbox. Set the maximum page size to 100 (Gear > Settings > Maximum Page Size) first for the best results.

chrome dev tools

Sort by Size: To find emails above a certain size, enter Size:[size in bytes] in the search box. To search in megabytes, add an M to the number. For example, Size:10M would return any emails larger than 10 MB.

gmail size sort

Sort by Filetype: If you want to find certain file types quickly, you can once again return to Gmail’s search box. Just type filetype:[file extension]. For example, enter filetype:PDF to find PDF attachments.

2. Deleting Emails

How do you delete emails from your Gmail inbox? Don’t worry; it’s not a trick question. You have to highlight the small check box alongside the email in question, then click on the trash can icon. You can also drag-and-drop messages into your Bin folder.

But wait, what’s that I see on my keyboard? Yes, it’s a Delete key!

Why can’t I just highlight an email and press it? It works on Outlook and Yahoo. For those of us who use lots of keyboard shortcuts to streamline our workflow The Best Ways to Learn All the Keyboard Shortcuts You Will Ever Need The Best Ways to Learn All the Keyboard Shortcuts You Will Ever Need There are many keyboard shortcuts you aren't using. We bring you all the right resources to teach you everything you need to know about keyboard shortcuts. Memorize keyboard shortcuts for instant productivity. Read More , it’s a huge annoyance.

Sadly, there’s no Gmail-based workaround here. Your only option is to use a third-party email client 5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime 5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime You need a desktop email client to handle your incoming mail? We show you the best desktop email clients you can get for free. Read More that supports the feature.

3. Email Signatures

Yes, Gmail supports email signatures How to Make Cool Gmail Signatures Right from Google Drive How to Make Cool Gmail Signatures Right from Google Drive For beautiful email signatures all you need is the right intent and the message that carries it across. Google Drive gives you the tools to bring your signatures to Gmail without any bother. Read More . So, what’s the problem? Well, it only supports one signature.

For many users, it might never be an issue. But if you have multiple email addresses linked to your Gmail How to Auto-Forward Emails to Multiple Addresses in Gmail How to Auto-Forward Emails to Multiple Addresses in Gmail Gmail makes it easy to automatically pass emails on to others, but with a few filters, you can send those emails to multiple people at once. Read More inbox, only being able to use one signature is highly restrictive. You’ll spend lots of time copying and pasting the right signature from elsewhere — you’re bound to make a mistake every now and again.

Alas, if this issue has been annoying you, don’t worry. We’ve got answers.

The Workarounds

You have two workarounds to choose from. Test them both and see which best suits your needs.

Canned Responses: A lot of users turn to Canned Responses. It’s a Labs feature. You can turn it on by heading to Gear > Settings > Labs and clicking the Enable button alongside the feature’s name. Make sure you hit Save Changes before returning to your inbox.

gmail canned responses

As the name suggests, Canned Responses lets you save pre-formatted automatic replies. You can use these replies to craft multiple signatures. To make an entry, select Compose then click the tiny arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the email window.

A new menu will pop up. Go to Canned Responses > New Canned Response to create the signature.

Gorgias Templates: Gorgias Templates uses a broadly similar principle, but you’ll need to install it from the Google Web Store. Once it’s up and running, just click the add-on’s icon in the email composition window to set up your signatures.

4. Hidden Signatures

Okay, so you’ve successfully used either Canned Responses or Gorgias Templates, and you now have a shiny set of signature templates, ready for the world to see.

Except, they can’t. Google has decided to hide them behind three tiny dots at the bottom of your email window. Presumably, the company thinks it helps readability.

You can certainly make that argument, but it’s also annoying if you want to see them.

The Workaround

What many people don’t realize is that you don’t even need a workaround for this one. A simple setting can instantly get rid of the annoyance.

To fix the issue, go to Gear > Settings > General and scroll down to the signature section. Underneath the window where you can enter your signature, mark the checkbox next to Insert this signature before quoted text in replies and remove the “–” line that precedes it.

gmail signature

5. The Design

These days, the layout and design of Gmail is many people’s biggest annoyance with the service. Opening your inbox feels like you’re being transported back to 2008. It looks incredibly out of place with the rest of the web.

Remember, we’re talking about a Google product here. That’s the same company that brought us Material Design How to Enable Chrome's New Material Design Theme How to Enable Chrome's New Material Design Theme Google Chrome has a new look, but you might not be seeing it yet. Here's how to enable Material Design for Chrome right now on Windows or Mac. Read More , a slew of beautifully thought-out Android Apps, and has been busy renovating many of its web apps. Even the much-maligned Google News was recently given an overhaul.

gmail in 2010
Image Credit: GeekShizzle

So why is Gmail stuck in the past? The optimist in me likes to think Google is saving the best until last. A whole new app and 1 TB of free storage for everyone, right?

The pessimist says Google just doesn’t care. With one billion active monthly users, it has the market sewed up. People rarely change email providers, so the company is resting on its laurels.

The Workaround

If you already have an email address from an alternative mainstream provider 3 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Outlook 3 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Outlook Do you find Outlook too expensive or too overwhelming or do you just not want to use a Microsoft product? You have options! We have compiled the best alternatives to Microsoft Outlook. Read More , you can almost certainly add your Gmail account into it and use their web app to control your emails. The feature is available in Outlook, Yahoo, GMX, Mail.com, and many more.

Alternatively, you could try setting a different theme. Yes, the layout will still be the same, but at least you won’t have to keep staring at that unimaginative white background.

gmail theme

To change the theme, go to Gear > Settings > Theme and click on Set Theme. You can use one of Google’s pre-defined offerings or upload your own.

What Annoys You About Gmail?

I’ve shared five of my top frustrations with Gmail and introduced you to a few workarounds that can negate — if not entirely eradicate — the problems.

Are you a Gmail power user? If so, what annoys you about the service? What does Google need to fix on its next major upgrade? As always, you can leave all your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. And remember to share the article with your friends on social media.

Image Credits: Peshkova/Shutterstock

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  1. Virginia
    November 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    2 things:
    The first is passing my arrow over anything that is accompanied by the sender's picture causes that picture & email address to appear and just be in the way. That includes both incoming emails and the lists of recipients when I'm sending out a bcc email. Very annoying when I'm trying to delete a few of the recipients in that outgoing email. It's not necessary.
    The second thing is the large blank area with a picture of a telephone that's encouraging me to "make a call" is covering up my list of folders on the left side of the emails. I know I can bring the list back by just placing the arrow on top of where they should be and they show back up. But I DON'T WANT TO MAKE A PHONE CALL! So why keep bugging me about it? That area just appeared recently.
    I wish I could include a screen shot, I feel like I'm not describing this 2nd gripe adequately.

  2. Bryan
    September 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    #2 does have a work around, keyboard shortcuts. For example, I have "1" setup to select all unread messages (doesn't really help with Inbox, but it does with Labels, where I sort most mail too), then "2" deletes, "3" marks as read, etc. I can clear out most of the junk mail fairly quickly this way by reading subject lines and seeing if it is something I want to open or not.

  3. Zoni
    August 31, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Regading design... I use "High contrast" theme and I think Gmail that way looks GREAT! :)

  4. Jaqui Miles
    August 29, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    1. Gmail needs to provide a way for me to create my own categories (and delete some of theirs). Their categories are helpful only to a degree and do not correspond to my idea of categorization.
    2. Stars are great BUT i have to scroll though all the ones in the list to get to the one I want. Why not have a drop down so I can choose from it instead of scrolling?

  5. Sharon
    August 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Speaking of sorting stuff, is Windows 10 ever going to come up with a way of sorting FAVORITES folders/subfolders alphabetically?

    I also don't seem to be able to increase zoom size when reading gmails in Chrome!

    • Jaqui Miles
      August 29, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Try Command (Mac) or Control (Win) combined with plus (+) or minus (-)
      to increase/decrease text size

  6. Ashley
    August 29, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Why do you worry about all this crap. Just use a sensible programme like Thunderbird and its all available.
    What's more, on my wife laptop (which we sometimes use when we're traveling) we can run three different email accounts on Thunderbird; my Gmail, her Gmail and her old email (which still gets mail coming in).

    On top of all that, I have a bunch of labeled files for sorting emails that I want to keep (and find easily).

    Get Thunderbird - all sorted.

    • wazzat
      August 29, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      And rely on Tbird to update correctly. No thanks. After trying to do what you said several times up to 3 years ago. Tbird would not configure correctly and I wasn't going to take a study course to fix it.

      • Ashley
        August 29, 2017 at 9:10 pm

        The obvious answer to that is "Don't keep updating things. "

        If it's not broken, why try to fix it.

        I've had similar problems with most updates - especially browsers, so now I avoid updates whenever I have the option. (Exceptions being stuff like Java etc.)

  7. Roger
    August 29, 2017 at 2:14 am

    I have solved all the problems with one step: I have stopped using it! Enough snooping!

  8. mike
    August 29, 2017 at 1:43 am

    The log in sucks. I keep trying to get it to ask for both a log in name and a password and I can't get it to do this. Most security sucks, but gmail by just providing the login name really sucks, I am glad I only use it as a throw away, but I am looking around for a replacement.

  9. MarkB
    August 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Not being able to encrypt my emails without a plugin that "oh by the way" requires the recipient to also have the plugin.

  10. Alice
    August 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I'd like my filters to put emails into real folders.

    Yes, I can pull them up from each label in turn. But it still feels like one big mess to me!

  11. michael
    August 28, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Have multiple browsers on my pc and android and I have had heaps of gmail notifications every time I log in. pointless notifying them these are all computer generated and the don't use humans to read emails

  12. Julian Landau
    August 28, 2017 at 6:36 am

    When you search for a subject, why can't you move the results to one of Gmail's subject files?

  13. LagunaMike
    August 27, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    I want to second several people's comments that Thunderbird is the way to go with gmail--most of the annoying features are handled cleaning in it; it has a huge array of add-ons that do a lot of extra things that gmail does not; and it provides you an overall usable system for not only gmail but for virtually every mail system out there.

    I may be missing the beauty of using the Gmail native app, but I'm happy not to have to fight the problems mentioned in the article and in the comments to it.

    • Anita
      August 28, 2017 at 12:47 am

      I was using Thunderbird before I had Gmail so it just seemed like the obvious way to go for me. Folders and filters are the way to go. Try it!

  14. Michael
    August 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    The useless vertical lines on the left side of a replied message

    • wazzat
      August 29, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      And the small draft, composing window. Can't read much of the msg if using large text. Agreed, gmail needs to be redone. It's my main email client.
      Yahoo and Outlook handle spam and block it easily. Gmail's settings suk. Like how do you delete unwanted folders?

  15. Dbob5678
    August 27, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Using Safari and Chrome on Mac,
    but I use gmail web interface.

    Want to speed up deleting gmails?
    Put checks into boxes on left for as many as you want,
    or for open gmails
    and choose shift + 3 keys.
    Hoila: gmails are delted.

    • Nick
      August 28, 2017 at 7:13 am

      Or simply set a keyboard shortcut in settings. Q deletes emails by me.

    • Nick
      August 28, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Or simply create a keyboard shortcut in settings

  16. Johnny
    August 27, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    You know what annoys me? Getting an email with this article's title as the subject, clicking the first "read the full article" button and discovering that particular button was for an article I don't want to read and this one is actually the third button down.

    • Jaack
      August 28, 2017 at 11:56 am

      I just opened this from MakeUseOf and this company seems to go out of its way to force readers to find the article that caused me to open the email in the first place. This email is far from the first email to have this deliberate bait and switch technique to force us to see the trash at the beginning of the email! Johnny is spot on as THE ANNOYANCE #1 from MakeUseOf

  17. Cal
    August 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Use Gmail as the back end and something like eM Client or Thunderbird to actually manage the emails. Plus you get off line access should you ever need it.

  18. Mark Corder
    August 27, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Google does have a Material Design version of Gmail called "Inbox" (google.com/inbox/) - some may like it's sorting and organizing features better.

  19. Manohar rao
    August 17, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Of late spam mail is flooding. How to stop from appearing in my box by me or you. Of course I am deleting without reading.
    Please advise.

    • fcd76218
      August 17, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Go to Settings -> Filters and Blocked Addresses -> Create a New Filter and set up the following filter: If the sender field or the sending address contains certain characters, move the email automatically to TRASH.

      On the same screen you can also block undesirable address.

      Unfortunately, that is another GMail annoyance. The filters cannot be set to "Delete Forever" (very useful for automatically getting rid of Spam). All you can do is move unwanted emails to TRASH and then delete the emails manually.

  20. likefunbutnot
    August 16, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    I hate material design and I hate message threading. The fix to both on Android is to switch to K9 or Kaiten, which support push messaging without shitty misfeatures like those.

    Gmail defaults to quote after reply, which is also terrible and wrong. To quote messages correctly (inline style) in the web interface, click the .. button at the bottom of the text box. It's hard to spot but the payoff in considerate message replies is enormous.

  21. Davin Peterson
    August 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    The one thing that I don't like about Gmail is that it doesn't have the feature to sort your email by who its from, subject or date that Outlook has.

  22. steve
    August 16, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Man do you get upset with trivial issues - don't know how you handle real life - and as others have pointed out, they aren't really issues.

    • fcd76218
      August 16, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Just because you've gotten used to the crappy GMail, does not mean others want to put up with it. I was able to sort on any column heading in the display 20 years ago when my email provider was AT&T. Microsoft Exchange provided the same and then some. Google copied a lot of design elements and features for GMail from its predecessors. Why didn't they copy the SORT function? Why haven't they implemented it since they started GMail? I'm sure it has been requested by many, many GMail users. Google prides itself on being on the cutting edge. Not in the case of GMail!

      • Steve
        August 16, 2017 at 10:50 pm

        You are making a wild assumption that I use gmail, well I don't, I use thunderbird and your response is unprofessional, I would suggest you need to lower your stress levels.

        • dragonmouth
          August 16, 2017 at 11:27 pm

          "You are making a wild assumption that I use gmail"
          Coulda fooled me. You defend it as if you worked for for Google.

          "your response is unprofessional"
          Why? Because I do not happen to agree with your stance? That's the beauty of a foruml. Everybody can express their opinion, whether you approve or not. Dan expressed an opinion. To you the annoyances are trivial, but then, by your own admission, you do not use GMail. To Dan and others, the annoyances are far from trivial. Anyway, who appointed you God so you can pass judgement on which issues are trivial and which are not?

    • Del
      August 16, 2017 at 10:29 pm


  23. Fili Wiese
    August 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Gmail does support multiple signatures for multiple email addresses (point 3). You just need to set each email address up as a account within Gmail and it works fine.

  24. Leo
    August 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    You can go to settings > labs and enable "Custom keyboard shortcuts" and then you can set a key to delete emails.

  25. Gazoo
    August 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    > what annoys you about the service? What does *Google* need to fix on its next major upgrade?

    Aside from the tracking, surveillance, data sharing which are not fixable just because... It's the increased censorship of information and manipulation of the public.

    Note to self: change my email provider.

    • steve
      August 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Will it be a 'paid for' service or will you just hand your info over to another provider, MS perhaps ?

  26. PD
    August 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Gmail hasn't looked like that sxreenshot for years. You're being disingenous.

    • mark
      August 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Standard view and HTML view look very different and have different features.