Gmail is an enormously popular email provider with an easy-to-use web interface. However, not all preferences and screen sizes work well with the default settings. Here’s how to customize the Gmail interface.
Expand or Collapse the Sidebar
The Gmail sidebar—the area on the left that shows you the Inbox, Sent Items, Drafts, and so on— takes up a lot of screen space on a smaller device.
To change or collapse the sidebar, click the hamburger menu at the top left of the app.
The sidebar contracts, so you just see the icons.
Click the hamburger icon to see the full sidebar again.
Choose What to Display in the Sidebar
The sidebar includes things you’ll definitely use (like the Inbox), but it also shows items you might rarely or never use (like “Important” or “All Mail”).
At the bottom of the sidebar, you see “More,” which, by default, is contracted and hides things you rarely use. You can drag and drop things from the sidebar onto the “More” listing to hide them.
You can also drag and drop into the sidebar any labels under “More” that you use regularly, so they’re always visible. You can also drag and drop to reorder the labels.
Hide (or Move) the Google Hangouts Chat Window
If you don’t use Google Hangouts for chats or phone calls, you can hide the chat window under the sidebar.
To do so, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right of the app, and then select “Settings.”
Click or tap “Chat,” select the “Chat Off” option, and then click or tap “Save Changes.”
Gmail reloads without the chat window. If you ever want to turn it back on, go back to Settings > Chat and select the “Chat On” option.
If you use Google Hangouts but don’t want the chat window at the bottom of the sidebar, you can display it on the right side of the app instead.
To do so, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right of the app and select “Settings.”
Click or tap “Advanced” and scroll down to the “Right-Side Chat” option. Click or tap “Enable,” and then click or tap “Save Changes.”
Gmail reloads with the chat window on the right side of the interface.
Change the Display Density of Emails
By default, Gmail displays your emails with a generous amount of space between them, including an icon that identifies the type of attachment. If you want to make your email display more compact, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right of the window and select “Display Density.”
The “Choose a View” menu opens, and you can choose “Default,” “Comfortable,” or “Compact.”
The “Default” view shows the icon for attachments, while “Comfortable” does not. In “Compact” view, you also won’t see the attachment icon, but it also minimizes the white space between emails. Select the density option you want, and then click or tap “OK.”
You can return to this menu any time to change the density setting.
Show Only the Subject Line
By default, Gmail shows the subject of an email and a few words from the body.
You can change this to see only the subject of the email for a cleaner viewing experience.
To do so, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right, and then select “Settings.”
Click or tap “General,” scroll down to the “Snippets” section, and then select “No Snippets.” Click or tap “Save Changes.”
Gmail will now show the subject lines but nothing from the body of your emails.
Enable the Hidden Email Preview Pane
Just like Outlook, Gmail has a preview pane, but it’s not enabled by default. We’ve covered this in more detail before, but to quickly turn on the Preview pane, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right and select “Settings.”
Click or tap “Advanced” and scroll down to the “Preview Pane” option. Click or tap the “Enable” option, and then click or tap “Save Changes.”
Gmail now displays either a vertical (as shown below) or horizontal preview pane.
Again, for more configuration options in the preview pane, check out our previous article.
Change the Mail Action Icons to Text
When you select an email in Gmail, the mail actions display as icons.
If you hover your cursor over these icons, a tip appears. However, if you’d prefer simple text instead of having to remember what the icons mean, you can remove them.
To do so, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right, and then select “Settings.”
Click or tap “General” and scroll down to the “Button Labels” section. Select the “Text” option, scroll to the bottom of the page, and then click or tap “Save Changes.”
When you return to the email interface, the actions appear as text.
This option can be particularly useful for someone who’s not tech-savvy and might struggle to figure out what the icons mean.
Change the Number of Displayed Emails
By default, Gmail shows you 50 emails at a time. This made sense when it launched back in 2004 because most people probably didn’t have great internet speeds; it’s still ideal if you have a slower connection.
However, if you have the bandwidth to show more (as most of us do), you can change this value.
Click or tap the Settings cog at the top right, and then select “Settings.”
Click or tap “General” and scroll down to the “Maximum Page” section. Click or tap the drop-down menu and change it to “100” (the maximum allowed). Scroll to the bottom of the page and click or tap “Save Changes.”
Gmail will now display 100 emails per page.
Color-Code Your Labels
We’ve covered labels in-depth previously, but one simple change that can make a big difference is color-coding your labels.
To do this, hover over a label, and then click or tap the three dots on the right. Click or tap “Label Color,” and then select the color you want to use.
The labels applied to your email will now be color-coded, making it much easier to see things at a glance.
Choose Your Tabs
Across the top of your Inbox, you see tabs, such as “Primary,” “Social,” and “Promotions.” To choose which of these are visible, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right. Next, select “Configure Inbox.”
In the panel that appears, choose which tabs you want visible (you can’t deselect Primary), and then click or tap “Save.”
The tabs across the top of your Inbox will change to those you selected. To see any tabs you haven’t selected, click “Categories” in the sidebar.
Change Gmail’s Theme
Black text on a white background isn’t everyone’s favorite color scheme. If you want to change it, click or tap the Settings cog at the top right, and then select “Themes.”
Click or tap a theme, and Gmail shows it behind the Themes panel as a preview.
Once you’ve chosen the theme you want, you can use the options (available for some themes) at the bottom to finesse it a bit, and then click or tap “Save.”
Those are some of the ways you can change the Gmail interface to suit your preferences.
Did we miss your favorite interface tweak? Share it in the comments!
These ten enterprise M&A deals totaled over $40B in 2019
It would be hard to top the 2018 enterprise M&A total of a whopping $87 billion, and predictably this year didn’t come close. In fact, the top 10 enterprise M&A deals in 2019 were less than half last year’s, totaling $40.6 billion. This year’s biggest purchase was Salesforce buying Tableau for $15.7 billion, which would…
It would be hard to top the 2018 enterprise M&A total of a whopping $87 billion, and predictably this year didn’t come close. In fact, the top 10 enterprise M&A deals in 2019 were less than half last year’s, totaling $40.6 billion.
This year’s biggest purchase was Salesforce buying Tableau for $15.7 billion, which would have been good for third place last year behind IBM’s mega deal plucking Red Hat for $34 billion and Broadcom grabbing CA Technologies for $18.8 billion.
Contributing to this year’s quieter activity was the fact that several typically acquisitive companies — Adobe, Oracle and IBM — stayed mostly on the sidelines after big investments last year. It’s not unusual for companies to take a go-slow approach after a big expenditure year. Adobe and Oracle bought just two companies each with neither revealing the prices. IBM didn’t buy any.
Microsoft didn’t show up on this year’s list either, but still managed to pick up eight new companies. It was just that none was large enough to make the list (or even for them to publicly reveal the prices). When a publicly traded company doesn’t reveal the price, it usually means that it didn’t reach the threshold of being material to the company’s results.
As always, just because you buy it doesn’t mean it’s always going to integrate smoothly or well, and we won’t know about the success or failure of these transactions for some years to come. For now, we can only look at the deals themselves.
Jumia, DHL, and Alibaba will face off in African ecommerce 2.0
The business of selling consumer goods and services online is a relatively young endeavor across Africa, but ecommerce is set to boom. Over the last eight years, the sector has seen its first phase of big VC fundings, startup duels and attrition. To date, scaling e-commerce in Africa has straddled the line of challenge and…
The business of selling consumer goods and services online is a relatively young endeavor across Africa, but ecommerce is set to boom.
Over the last eight years, the sector has seen its first phase of big VC fundings, startup duels and attrition.
To date, scaling e-commerce in Africa has straddled the line of challenge and opportunity, perhaps more than any other market in the world. Across major African economies, many of the requisites for online retail — internet access, digital payment adoption, and 3PL delivery options — have been severely lacking.
Still, startups jumped into this market for the chance to digitize a share of Africa’s fast growing consumer spending, expected to top $2 billion by 2025.
African e-commerce 2.0 will include some old and new players, play out across more countries, place more priority on internet services, and see the entry of China.
But before highlighting several things to look out for in the future of digital-retail on the continent, a look back is beneficial.
Jumia vs. Konga
The early years for development of African online shopping largely played out in Nigeria (and to some extent South Africa). Anyone who visited Nigeria from 2012 to 2016 likely saw evidence of one of the continent’s early e-commerce showdowns. Nigeria had its own Coke vs. Pepsi-like duel — a race between ventures Konga and Jumia to out-advertise and out-discount each other in a quest to scale online shopping in Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation.
Traveling in Lagos traffic, large billboards for each startup faced off across the skyline, as their delivery motorcycles buzzed between stopped cars.
Covering each company early on, it appeared a battle of VC attrition. The challenge: who could continue to raise enough capital to absorb the losses of simultaneously capturing and creating an e-commerce market in notoriously difficult conditions.
In addition to the aforementioned challenges, Nigeria also had (and continues to have) shoddy electricity.
Both Konga — founded by Nigerian Sim Shagaya — and Jumia — originally founded by two Nigerians and two Frenchman — were forced to burn capital building fulfillment operations most e-commerce startups source to third parties.
That included their own delivery and payment services (KongaPay and JumiaPay). In addition to sales of goods from mobile-phones to diapers, both startups also began experimenting with verticals for internet based services, such as food-delivery and classifieds.
While Jumia and Konga were competing in Nigeria, there was another VC driven race for e-commerce playing out in South Africa — the continent’s second largest and most advanced economy.
E-tailers Takealot and Kalahari had been jockeying for market share since 2011 after raising capital in the hundreds of millions of dollars from investors Naspers and U.S. fund Tiger Global Management.
So how did things turn out in West and Southern Africa? In 2014, the lead investor of a flailing Kalahari — Naspers — facilitated a merger with Takealot (that was more of an acquisition). They nixed the Kalahari brand in 2016 and bought out Takelot’s largest investor, Tiger Global, in 2018. Takealot is now South Africa’s leading e-commerce site by market share, but only operates in one country.
In Nigeria, by 2016 Jumia had outpaced its rival Konga in Alexa ratings (6 vs 14), while out-raising Konga (with backing of Goldman Sachs) to become Africa’s first VC backed, startup unicorn. By early 2018, Konga was purchased in a distressed acquisition and faded away as a competitor to Jumia.
Jumia went on to expand online goods and services verticals into 14 Africa countries (though it recently exited a few) and in April 2019 raised over $200 million in an NYSE IPO — the first on a major exchange for a VC-backed startup operating in Africa.
Jumia’s had bumpy road since going public — losing significant share-value after a short-sell attack earlier in 2019 — but the continent’s leading e-commerce company still has heap of capital and generates $100 million in revenues (even with losses).
Airbnb’s New Year’s Eve guest volume shows its falling growth rate
Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. It’s finally 2020, the year that should bring us a direct listing from home-sharing giant Airbnb, a technology company valued at tens of billions of dollars. The company’s flotation will be a key event in…
Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.
It’s finally 2020, the year that should bring us a direct listing from home-sharing giant Airbnb, a technology company valued at tens of billions of dollars. The company’s flotation will be a key event in this coming year’s technology exit market. Expect the NYSE and Nasdaq to compete for the listing, bankers to queue to take part, and endless media coverage.
Given that that’s ahead, we’re going to take periodic looks at Airbnb as we tick closer to its eventual public market debut. And that means that this morning we’re looking back through time to see how fast the company has grown by using a quirky data point.
Airbnb releases a regular tally of its expected “guest stays” for New Year’s Eve each year, including 2019. We can therefore look back in time, tracking how quickly (or not) Airbnb’s New Year Eve guest tally has risen. This exercise will provide a loose, but fun proxy for the company’s growth as a whole.
Before we look into the figures themselves, keep in mind that we are looking at a guest figure which is at best a proxy for revenue. We don’t know the revenue mix of the guest stays, for example, meaning that Airbnb could have seen a 10% drop in per-guest revenue this New Year’s Eve — even with more guest stays — and we’d have no idea.
So, the cliche about grains of salt and taking, please.
But as more guests tends to mean more rentals which points towards more revenue, the New Year’s Eve figures are useful as we work to understand how quickly Airbnb is growing now compared to how fast it grew in the past. The faster the company is expanding today, the more it’s worth. And given recent news that the company has ditched profitability in favor of boosting its sales and marketing spend (leading to sharp, regular deficits in its quarterly results), how fast Airbnb can grow through higher spend is a key question for the highly-backed, San Francisco-based private company.
- 2009: 1,400
- 2010: 6,000 (+329%)
- 2011: 3,1000 (+417%)
- 2012: 108,000 (248%)
- 2013: 250,000 (+131%)
- 2014: 540,000 (+116%)
- 2015: 1,100,000 (+104%)
- 2016: 2,000,000 (+82%)
- 2017: 3,000,000 (+50%)
- 2018: 3,700,000 (+23%)
- 2019: 4,500,000 (+22%)
In chart form, that looks like this:
Let’s talk about a few things that stand out. First is that the company’s growth rate managed to stay over 100% for as long as it did. In case you’re a SaaS fan, what Airbnb pulled off in its early years (again, using this fun proxy for revenue growth) was far better than a triple-triple-double-double-double.
Next, the company’s growth rate in percentage terms has slowed dramatically, including in 2019. At the same time the firm managed to re-accelerate its gross guest growth in 2019. In numerical terms, Airbnb added 1,000,000 New Year’s Eve guest stays in 2017, 700,000 in 2018, and 800,000 in 2019. So 2019’s gross adds was not a record, but it was a better result than its year-ago tally.
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