How to Simplify Your Gmail Inbox

For years, I’ve struggled to find a desktop email client that worked for me. Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird — no matter what I tried, all roads seemed to lead me back to plain old Gmail.

And that’s for good reason. There are a bunch of things Gmail does better by default than most other clients. For example, I love the conversation view, the easy-to-use email scheduling, and the custom inbox options. However, Gmail has not been without its frustrations.

It’s no secret that in recent years, Gmail has become a bit…bloated. Every time I checked my inbox, it always felt like Google had thrown everything and the kitchen sink into Gmail — integrations with its other services (like Google Meet, Chat, and Hangouts), multiple inbox category tabs, a side panel for even more integrations, etc. It all became a bit too much for me, especially since I never really use most of these features that often.

screenshot of gmail user interface

For a while, I was resigned to the fact that I would just have to suffer with this Frankenstein monster of a web app. That is, until I came across Simplify.

Simplify is a deceptively simple Google Chrome extension. From just a couple screenshots, it doesn’t seem like anything special. But there’s much more to it than what meets the eye.

Simplify radically strips Gmail down to its core components, and gives Gmail a much needed new coat of paint. There are also plenty of customization options, so you can tinker with Gmail’s look until you get something you love. The extension is also (thankfully) constantly being updated in order to accommodate Gmail’s frequent design and feature changes.

screenshot of gmail interface with simplify extension turned on

The creator, Michael Leggett, was actually Gmail’s design lead from 2008 through 2012. Since leaving Google, he shared my frustration regarding the way Gmail’s design had been headed, and decided to build Simplify as a workaround.

Simplify also comes with some other nifty features, like blocking over 250 email trackers, implementing a more robust dark mode, and adding a new host of keyboard shortcuts that let you get work done faster.

At the end of the day, I love Simplify because it allows me to focus on my inbox free of distraction. If you’ve been struggling with finding a good email client like me, I’d highly recommend trying out Simplify’s free trial. With the personal plan, you can connect up to ten email accounts for just $2/month, which I think is pretty generous. Learn more about Simplify here:

illustration of several people around a computer working on email
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How to Simplify Your Gmail Inbox

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