what is wrong with the new gmail buttons

I’m having trouble getting used to the new Gmail button. Here’s the explanation, in a simple animated GIF. My my motor memory remembers the position of the “Delete” button, and finds the “Move” button in its place.

Also, “Move to”? WTF? It looks like the fruit of a religious compromise between the “Folders are evil, Labels are googly” and “Folders are how the world works, you hippies” camps. Hey design-by-committee… Look, it’s your new friend, Gmail!


What other people have to say:

Seriously awful design. Buttons are supposed to be separated from each other. If they are together they look like they are tabs. I have to spend a bit more time to make sure that I am not clicking on the wrong button.

where did ‘search the web’ go? enter search string, tab, tab, enter and.. arrgghh!

Just wanted to add “OMG YES!” to the fact that the new design is a pain and I’m having trouble using gmail with it. If it were more substantial, I would classify myself as someone who is just complaining that you “moved my cheese.”

Unfortunately it’s a small tweak that provides a very strange usability addition (Move To) and kicks Fitts law while it’s at it – not to mention offends the eyes by making them one long button with low-contrast separators.

Well, that was my vent, I’m glad other people also find this annoying.


I really don’t see what the fuss is about. Sure it’s different, but that’s not something that’s wrong with it. Something that forces you to retrain you muscle memory isn’t necessarily bad.

I agree somewhat with one long button not being the best design, but if all those buttons were separated with their own 3d boundaries, it would look a lot worse. I’m not qualified to judge the design usability wise, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I use the keyboard shortcuts, so it really doesn’t bother me too much.

Finally, the “move to” option. I really like it, since a majority of my actions on the older interface was to sequentially label and then archive the message. Move to saves a step, and is really helpful because of the extra keyboard shortcut they’ve provided for it. Gmail has to be in between the label and the folder idealogy anyway, since it doesn’t want to alienate people. And frankly, I can’t come up with a more succinct way of saying “label and archive” then just a simple unambiguous “move to”.

I hate the new gmail design! I am usually an unabashed gmail praiser, but the new toolbar is ugly, hard to use, confusing, and annoying. Put it back the way it was! What happened to my buttons?


As mentioned in the posts of the following sites and threads cited below, Gmail-ers find it bizarre, ironic, and frustrating that Google, the leading search engine, should REMOVE the “Search Web” option from our Gmail page. Read through these posts — which continue to grow —and you will discover the variety of ways that Gmail users found the “Search the Web” button useful, accomodating to their style or skills, and in many cases, NECESSARY.

The ability to simply, quickly, and easily (virtually in one motion) search for content, do a quick bit of sideline research, perform a quick fact check, all while composing or reading email, has been a compelling reason for me to favor Gmail more than any of my other webmail providers. While I can’t say removing the “Search Web” option is a deal-breaker, I can say it isn’t a deal-maker.

Another small irony here: by adding “Move” (and a semblance of folders for newbies who don’t quite grasp the modus operandi of Gmail), Google is remodelling Gmail to resemble more strongly other traditional and competing webmail destinations like Yahoo, et al., yet in the same motion, they have subtracted “Search Web” which is a function competing webmail sites emulate because of its brilliant and expedient usefulness.

With the addition of so much questionable cruft, Google seems to have forgotten what their primary product is: Search!

You will find other Gmail-ers who are dismayed and confused about the apparent removal of the “Search Web” option here:

http://getsatisfaction.com/google/topics/bring_back_the_gmail_search_the... (GetSatisfaction.com)

http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Settings-en/t/5d0a9b43c47ff225... (Vanished Search Button)

http://www.google.com/url?url=http://groups.google.com/g/80f7faa1/t/5424... (Search Web Option Missing)

http://groups.google.com/group/gmail-labs-suggest-a-labs-feature/browse_... (Please Bring Back the Search the Web Button!)

Also, you can file a suggestion with Google via this link:
http://mail.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=suggestions.cs (Suggestions > I have another idea > Other > Bring Back the “Search the Web” option!)

When you arrive at the page, scroll to the bottom of the page where it says “I have another idea,” choose “Other” from the drop-down list, and on the first line of your entry entitle it “Bring back the “Search the Web” option!” (BTW, some IE users may receive a Security Certificate error when confirming their suggestion; if so, click continue to web page, and Google will thank you for your suggestion via an HTTPS page.)

Also worth reading on this topic:
http://getsatisfaction.com/google/topics/bring_back_the_gmail_search_the... (Bring Back the Gmail Search the Web Option at GetSatisfaction.com)

Google Gone Bonkers, Scott Wilson CIO blog @

Making Gmail Your Gateway to the Web, Steve Rubel blog @ www.micropersuasion.com/2008/11/making-gmail-yo.html

(Fellow Gmail user and expert commentator on emerging technologies, Steve Rubel, wrote a thorough and excellent essay, “Making Gmail Your Gateway to the Web.” In it, he articulates beautifully what many of us have tried to express about the value we gain from the “Search the Web” option and how he integrates (errr…make that “integrated” for the moment) Gmail — WITH the “Search the Web” option — into a powerhouse tool for running and organizing his business and communications.

Nota Bene: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s been slightly over 2 weeks since Google removed the “Search the Web” option from Gmail, Gmail users continue to post their complaints, comments, and outrage. The variety of suggested work-arounds notwithstanding, nothing works as UNIVERSALLY well for ALL users as it did. So, again:

Google, please restore the “Search the Web” option to Gmail.

I started a petition to bring back the “Search the Web” button. You can find it at http://www.petitiononline.com/gmail001/

Wonderful news: The Button is back! The Button works! hOSANNA! gLORIA IN eXCELSIS Deo!

God bless the Good Ship Google and all who sail in her — in an unusual reversal almost one month to the day since they removed it, Google has restored the Search the Web option to Gmail.

Never let it be said that a respectful, organized, persistent, and mostly intelligent protest by subscribers won’t make a difference.

Thank you, G-folk, for hearing us out and considering our comments and our needs. Likewise, thanks to the Gmail subscribers who spoke up, wrote out, and bumped, bumped, bumped ;-)

Big thanks, too, go to Scott Wilson (Google Gone Bonkers), Steve Rubel (Making Gmail Your Gateway to the Web), CNET, GetSatisfaction.com, SearchEngineWatch, PLA Tech, Arnab’s World and a host of other bloggers across the web who helped get the word out.

Choukrane! Merci! Danke! Gracias!

About the author:

Arnab Nandi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. You can read more about him here.

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