First Look: Google Gmail Gets A New Coat Of Paint

A Whole New Gmail

Google took the touch-up brush to its Gmail cloud e-mail offering and gave users a sneak peak at Gmail's new design, which will be rolled out over the next few days.

The Google Gmail updates come after Google showed a preview of Google Gmail's new look in July. The updates add a more social feel to Gmail, adding in photos and new message views for contacts.

Users who want to cut over to the new Gmail immediately just need to click on "Switch to the new look" when it shows up in the bottom right of their Gmail window.

Conversations With Less Clutter

First, Google completely retooled Gmail's conversation view to ease reading through e-mail threads. The new streamlined conversation feature adds profile pictures of contacts to keep track of who said what. Google also stripped out the extra clutter, to let users focus on communications.

It's Elastic

The new-fangled Google Gmail features what Google calls "elastic density" which adjusts the spacing between elements on the screen to better fit varying screen and device sizes. Google said that the spacing will not change automatically based on the kind of display a user has. And for users that prefer a denser view, Google added the option to change the screen density manually in the Settings menu.

Themes! In HD!

Themes are Google's little way of letting users customize their Gmail e-mail inboxes. And with the latest version of Gmail, Google has completely rebuilt themes to offer a set of new high-resolution themes with images courtesy of iStockphoto. Google said that many favorite older themes have been reworked and users themes will automatically be switched over to the new look.

To check out the new themes, Google said users can take a look via the Settings menu.

Nifty Nav

Along with getting a fresh new look, Google Gmail also got a new navigation panel on the left-hand side that keeps labels and chat contacts in view at all times. Google said this navigation panel is more customizable than previous iterations, letting users resize labels and chat areas to see more, or to hid chat entirely. And the arrow keys can be used to navigate around the interface, Google added.

Search It

Google's a search company, right? So it's only fitting that Google Gmail got a search makeover. The latest Gmail update adds better search capabilities to the cloud e-mail service. Google said that a click of the dropdown menu in the search box offers a new advanced search panel, making it easier and quicker for users to find what they're looking for in Gmail. Google said users can use that same panel to create a filter from any search within just a few clicks.