Google Inbox: how do I bring it back from the dead?

google inbox

A month ago, Google closed Google Inbox. In Google’s closing blog, it stated that “we’ve learned a lot about how to make email better” – but one of those wasn’t how to make a lovely clean interface. Evidence: my Gmail homepage.

Gmail homepage

So if you loved Inbox but hate Gmail’s clutter, what can you do about it? Simple. Or, more precisely, Simplify.

What is Simplify Gmail?

Simplify Gmail is a Chrome extension built by Michael Leggett, Gmail’s lead designer from 2008 to 2012 and the co-founder of Google Inbox. “With the unfortunate demise of Google Inbox,” he writes, “I wanted [to] bring the simplified email experience to Gmail.”

To add Simplify, click on the link above and hit the blue “Add to Chrome” button. You’ll be prompted that this will enable the app to read your Gmail messages, but that’s kind of the point. Click Okay.

Simplify will now be enabled by default, as you’ll discover if you head to your Gmail inbox.

Gmail homepage with Simplify

What are the key changes? Essentially, it clears away the Gmail clutter. No Gmail icon, no big search box, and any unnecessary page furniture – think menu bars and action buttons – are hidden away.

Crucially, it’s also easier to read emails. One problem with Gmail is that there’s no “maximum width” to emails, so they fill the page view. Simplify will ensure that emails are easy to read, even on huge screens.

You can switch it off by clicking the S symbol that now appears in the top-right of our browser. If you can’t see it, hit the three dots and choose “More tools” from the dropdown menu. Extensions is one of the options that appears.

Inbox in Gmail

Another Chrome extension worth trying is Inbox in Gmail. This has a much more Inbox-like look to it, along with some of its key features.

Inbox in Gmail

It’s not perfect – any user interface that employs white against grey must be questioned – but it makes navigating a big inbox far easier than the Gmail default.

There’s also a feeling that it’s trying too hard to be like Inbox, which makes it frustrating when you want to do something you could before but can’t now.

Again, though, it’s simple to add. Just note that you might need to refresh your Gmail homepage for changes to take effect.

READ NEXT: What are the best free Android app alternatives to Inbox?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email

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  • SaneBox is an excellent alternative – with comprehensive features and intelligent algorithms, it supports your productivity and keeps your inbox clean.