Minimalist For Everything – The Single Reason To Consider A Simpler Gmail & Google Reader [Chrome]

Saikat Basu 11-02-2013

simple google readerWe might not notice it, but minimalism is everywhere. In art, architecture, lifestyles, and of course in web design. Minimalism is a movement and though one can say it is about simplicity, it may not be entirely true. It is about getting to the essence of something by removing the non-essentials. So, when one talks about Gmail and Google Reader, the non-essentials have a long list of their own.


It is ironic that a web service which dominates the world with an austere, barebones interface has a few allied services which are cluttered. In my opinion, Gmail and Google Reader are not very cluttered. Is it because we have learnt to live with them? Whatever might be your opinion, it is also true that they can be made simpler and easier on the eyes.

Minimalist for Everything is one of the options you can consider to reduce Gmail and Google Reader to the bare essentials. It is a follow up to the deprecated Minimalist for Gmail.

Why Move Towards Minimalism?

Google was among the first, and to a large extent still is one of the companies that makes intelligent use of whitespace. But Gmail (and also Google Reader has elements you hardly use (e.g. the chat box or the profile photo). Chrome extensions like Minimalist for Everything give you the ability to customize Gmail and Google Reader for better usability and reclaim more whitespace. I personally think that removing distracting elements improves productivity in subtle ways, and what could be better than turning your favorite web app into a productivity beast Turn Gmail Into A Productivity Beast With These Chrome Extensions [Beta Invites] Gmail is a fantastic email client. In fact, I will go as far to say that it’s the best. With that said, can it really get any better? With these Chrome extensions, it can. And... Read More .

There are quite a few other options that let you change Gmail’s appearance. From the well-recommended Gmelius Customize Gmail's Online Interface With Gmelius [Firefox, Chrome & Opera] Remove features you don't like from Gmail, leaving behind only the things you do. Gmelius is a simple extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that lets you turn off parts of Gmail you're not interested... Read More to the broader Stylish. Simple Greasemonkey scripts also help you customize the app’s interface are available by the dozen. So, it’s not about choices…they are aplenty. It’s about usability, and that’s where we put Minimalism for Everything to the test.

Installing Minimalism for Everything

If you are on Chrome and Gmail and Google Reader are your go-to apps, then Minimalist for Everything should be an essential install. We have it on our Best Chrome Extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More page for this very reason. Minimalist for Everything is not only an ad-blocker on Gmail and Google Reader; it lets you zap you unneeded clutter with nothing more than a selection against their names.


simple google reader

Minimalist for Everything – true to its name – is a centralized user agent style tweaking extension. The user agent in this case is Chrome and the extension allows you to load different “modules” which tweak different elements on the web page. A module is a collection of code (Custom CSS and JavaScript) that you can plug-in to Minimalist for Everything. Without the modules, the extension is like Superman without his super-powers. With the modules, you can pick and choose which parts of the interface you want and don’t want.

simple gmail

Straight out of the box, Minimalist for Everything comes with modules for Gmail and Google Reader. Operation is simple:

  1. Click on the Minimalist icon.
  2. Click on Dashboard.
  3. Enable one or more modules.
  4. Click Options to change that module’s options (Modules have all options disabled by default)
  5. Go through the tabs and select the options you want by previewing each element.
  6. Click on Save Changes.

The Dashboard

The extension detects if you have a Google account open, else it shows that Gmail or Google Reader are disabled. Once you log into an account, you can click to enable the extension and go to work selecting and deselecting interface elements. Click on Options…

As you can see, you have a preview of what you are changing. Let’s go on a de-cluttering blitzkrieg across the header, toolbar, footer, and sidebar elements.

simple gmail

Here’s the interface of a Gmail before any style tweaks:


Minimalist For Everything – The Single Reason To Consider A Simpler Gmail & Google Reader [Chrome] minimalist extension04

Here’s the interface of Gmail after applying a few style tweaks:

simple gmail

I gave the unread emails a green highlight. Of course, it won’t always serve to cut down all the interface elements as some like the search bar and the toolbar are always needed. You can effectively use it to hide the chat box if you don’t use it that often and the ads of course – though there’s nothing in the dashboard for the top most ads. I have done it to merely illustrate the level of minimalism you can achieve. Also, the Google Toolbar can be made to re-appear with a mouse-over the spot.


Extra Modules for Greater Flexibility

Though, the Chrome extension gives you the flexibility to add custom modules, you would need some knowledge of style sheets and JavaScript to write those lines of coded. If you do know how, then the extension gives you a simple authoring environment to write in your own or paste it there. You can code away and define custom styles for Facebook, YouTube, Tumble, and your favorite websites.

simple google reader

If you don’t know how to, just tweaking Gmail and Google Reader could be beneficial enough.

Sometimes Quirky but Still Pretty Good….

Make no mistake. Minimalist for Everything is probably one of the most customizable extensions out there. But it does exhibit a few erratic behaviors. Or at least in my case it did. For instance, you might need to refresh the Gmail or Google Reader page manually to make the changes apparent. I noticed it while making the color changes.

The image preview of all options is very helpful and really cuts short the time to go through the settings. Disabling the tweaks and enabling them again didn’t break the interface changes. Yes, right now non-coders have only Google Reader and Gmail to go with. You would expect a few more user-created modules out there, but that’s just a small grouse. (Stylish Use Custom Styles For Any Website With Stylish [Chrome] Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Web designers and developers have to live with this curse every day. And when you happen to work for a major website like Facebook, even the slightest... Read More is better in this regards.) I do most of my reading on these two apps anyway. An iota of productivity with Gmail and Google Reader is always welcome. What do you think? Tell us if Minimalist for Everything manages to hold its own or do you have another alternative to customize your favorite website 5 Ways to Customize Your Browser and Have Websites the Way YOU Want Them to Be You’re probably familiar with browser extensions, but there are many other ways to customize your browser and tweak websites. The web isn’t a one-way, passive medium – you have the ability to remix websites you... Read More chalked down?

Related topics: Email Tips, Gmail, Google Reader.

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  1. Kimberly Wimmer
    June 4, 2015 at 4:20 am

    OMG I am so frustrated - can someone send me a very clear video explanation step-by-step (or a USER GUIDE) on how to use this Extension (the set-up), the Options, etc. I am about to pull my hair out trying to figure it out on my own.

  2. Daniel J. Karas
    February 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I too think an uncluttered look is great, but I'm wondering how this works in conjunction with other extensions. Looks like a weekend project.

    • Saikat Basu
      February 21, 2013 at 5:05 am

      Has worked well so far. But then I don't have all the extensions installed.

  3. Igor Rizvi?
    February 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Minimalistic looks great,thats why i love it!

  4. Jeremy Garnett
    February 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I much prefer a minimalist styled newspaper or letter to a minimalist styled household. It is good to see it has finally made it online.

  5. Sebastian Hadinata
    February 12, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Great Extension indeed, I'm going to give it a try.

  6. Akhil Kumar
    February 12, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ? Leonardo da Vinci