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New toolbar button setting: icons or words

When we launched Gmail’s new look, we did something different: we put icons on the buttons. Icons brought consistency across languages and solved problems with functions that had long names.

Some people loved the new icons. Others, especially low vision users, found words easier to distinguish. We’ve been listening to your feedback and we now have a setting that lets you turn the icons into words. You can make the change by clicking the gear to open Settings, and changing your button labels on the General tab.

Love the icons? No problem. Icons will continue to be the default, and you can always hover over the button to see its name.
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166 comments
Anna F
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can y'all do something about how gmail and g+ pegs the cpu and is nearly unusable without a super fast desktop computer, especially in chrome? =/
 
I've already gotten used to the icons by now. Haha
 
I don't mind the icons but love the part about......we've been listening to your feedback.
 
I'm finding people in my office get confused by the difference between moving to a folder and labelling. What is a good way you can explain it.
 
更喜欢图标,谢谢 :)
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+Jason Smith Moving to a "folder" is labeling and moving. Labeling is just labeling without the moving.
 
+Jason Smith when you move to a folder you remove all other labels (including the Inbox label), when you label, you just add one more label.
 
Has this been rolled out for everyone? Because I went to settings/general and I don't see this option.
 
Great Job; via greater thinking. Very few are able to achieve change in such a large institutional product like the one you own. Remember this word ... "Nimmble". -- signed Congrad'es
 
Thanks for actually listen to feedback. I am one of those who hated the icon, and though it was inefficient.
 
at first i found the icons quite confusing, but i feel much more comfortable using them now... but thanks +Gmail for giving us the choice :)
 
Missed the settings, next page, and prev page buttons.
 
I'm glad you did this, took me months to get properly used to those icons but I still prefer the words.
 
Thank you; glad I wasn't the only one who thinks “Archive” is more mnemonic than any picture can be.
 
I still find the icons easier to use (that is just how my brain is wired) but +1 for giving users choice.
 
Oh thank goodness for that, THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! My parents (75+) use Gmail and they did not understand any of the icons. Now, at last, they know what they are doing again... in behalf of them, I'm grateful!
 
well, finally!! i can get rid of these stupid icons....it was in deed, bad design to have icons replaced texts.
 
Icons are actually very difficult for the visually handicapped. My father (a skilled computer user with cataracts so bad that he's considered legally blind) has a great deal of trouble navigating heavily graphical webpages. To someone with murky vision the screen just gets cluttered with colored blurs. Text is much easier for someone who can't see well to navigate, as you can more easily see where it begins and ends, highlight it, and employ text-to-speech software to read it out. Kudos to Google for responding and keeping on the simpler layout.
 
good job Gmail Team, now talk to the G+ team and make them change the +1 button back to what it was.
 
Good job G Team, keep it up
 
There we go, an "OPTION" how about giving us a "Blue" - "Red" +1 button OPTION Google?????
While your at it, would I be considered pushy if I yet again ask for a "SKINNABLE" personalised "ME" page??? lol
 
That option is not available here (I am in Australia). Is this a roll-out per region?
 
the new design is a waste of my time and visual space, i'll be leaving gmail after nearly a decade being a proud google evangelist. the new product is unusable for those who have lengthy threads.
 
this fix is long over due to fix the mystery meat navigation that should have never made it past alpha testing
 
+Jesse Ledbetter Oh get over yourself, I'm getting tired of people complaining that somethings changed and claiming it 'Unusable' just because they refuse to change the way they do things rather than giving Constructive Criticism of how it could have been done better. If you can't handle something being different, go back to your cave.
 
I know this isn't the place to make this comment, but I wish you guys would give an option (via GMail Labs or something similar) to make the Contacts link always visible, as it was with the previous version of the interface. In terms of usability, the previous version was way better in this regard.
 
New style is not suitable for new user, please bring back GMAIL logo!
 
Thank goodness. Words can take up less visual space and do not require interpretation nor a mouse over (hover tooltip)
 
I LIKEY the icons...so, yeah...thanks.
 
Normally Gmail staff think that Change is life, but they forgot that Change is not solution of any Problem.
 
>>>>>>.Bring Back Gmail logo <<<<<<
 
If you continue to listen to feedback, gmail will end up having settings to revert back to the old look. Just leave it alone you tools
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That is a nice enhancement - make the tent bigger - more people can enjoy it.....Goog for you Goodle......
 
I discussed this post with 2 people in a hangout.
 
I liked best the blue like button than the red one. Every time I +1 something I feel that I am punishing the person: There is red to you!
 
So the people who find icons difficult just need to click on the gear?
 
Choices are good! I like choices! Keep it up! And please bring the same philosphy to Chrome! (Really don't like the lack of a title bar and the tabs on top design.)
 
سلام به همه اونهای که زبان من را می فهمند
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大米
 
Prefer text
 
Icons are much better and easier to find.
 
+Stefan . Red also means the color of love, so its not always punishing, it also means loving/liking, when you click +1
 
I'll keep the icons, but great move. Well done.
 
I can't see the options in General. Could it be my theme?
 
Thank you so much! I've been waiting for this ever since the buttons were changed. It's good to know Google actually listens to user feedback. This brings GMail's usability back up to where it was before and gives me a whole new appreciation for the interface you've created.
 
Icons are tiresome to parse, unless you use each one a lot. Hovering to translate is really slow. Thanks for this improvement! :-)
 
+Gmail спасибо вам за замечательный апдейт.
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Excellent. Please just bring this toggle over to custom domains using Google Apps and my life will be that much more in balance with the universe.
 
good to see that you listen to feedback as promised!
 
Sweet! Now if you can get it to work on our phones.... Ie: notifications that would be great.......thx
 
Well we already have it in our domain ! Thanks a lot, users will love this option !
 
excellent feature! the best webmail just got better! :)
 
by bye strange symbolic button icons that I always have to look glance at for 2 seconds before clicking.
 
How about replacing "mark as read" with an icon? Thanks! Great product BTW :)
 
Hey google - what's with the new red "+1"? It looks hostile and angry.
 
Oh wow, I gave this exact feedback about a week ago! Thank you!
 
Defaults are great; They lower data usage and keep things working smoothly...
John E
 
Excellent, I hate icons. I can read, so I prefer words on my buttons :)

Just tried it and "Settings" is still a picture of a cog, and "select" is still just an empty box... Some work to do I think...
 
Love that idea...
 
Good to have options. How about making a customizable black menu bar?
 
Thanks for the option. I prefer the words and have changed my settings.
 
I like to see and use new Icons and I am pretty sure every one will get familiar with the new design.
 
I think that I'd great idea! Very visual helps people that are dyslexic it gets my vote:-)
 
Thanks for this, I Loved the text buttons while I had mostly gotten used to the icons , I am switching mine back to text.
 
Thanks for listening Google! I was one of the users that requested this.
 
How about ability to DELETE TRASH and a Delete ALL on Spam and Trash. Buttons are nice but working correctoy even better
 
Why I luuuuuve the Google: Icons don't work on Chrome. Icons work on Firefox and IE. Go to way Google.
 
What's the obsessions with everything being RED (now +1 button) - I'm not colour blind & find it difficult to read :(
 
hi.my name's Edward I'm living in Indonesia maybe once of you known me before apologize me if my meEnglish so bad because it isn't our daily language.
 
We can choose from icons or text, but not both.

I love, when possible, to have icons AND texts on UI. As I have a very wide monitor space it´s not a problem to me...

Please add this option.
 
Thanx for the text buttons! That's what I need.
 
Not seeing this yet, but it'll be nice to have the option.
 
Mas voçês julgam que todos falam ingles,que grande por--ria
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I hated the icons--it took me longer to figure out what they stood for than to just read the word--so glad to have the text option!
 
Very nice. Thank you.

But it doesn't work for all the buttons on the contacts screen...
 
google is the best ever, gmail always think of its users not themselfs.
 
my name isn't nibbit/nobbits.for google can on this way go fast.
 
+Bill Green For the most part, I agree with you about google's new antiprivacy agreement, and the disdain that they often show their customers, but considering that you are posting this on g+, methinks that the kettle doth call the pot black when it speaks of sheep.
 
+Marshal Walker If you visit the forums, you will see that people have been offering constructive criticism (and, admittedly, screening incoherently in anger) for months on how google could repair the damage caused when they rolled out the new look. The forced use of non-intuitive and hard to see icons was high on that list.

The reason that people get frustrated and angry is that google ignored that constructive criticism for months and didn't respond at all until the pressure had been on for quite a while. Even when the constructive criticism involved people with impaired vision for whom the new look literally was "unusable."

Eventually google just offered a very thin excuse as to why they hadn't acted, promised that they would look at, perhaps, thinking about fixing 5 of the concerns, implied that they didn't care about the rest, and then took another two months to roll out the simplest fix on the list. All while telling people how important their feedback was, while stonewalling the majority of it.

So, yeah. A lot of people are a little pissed off at how google has been treating their customers, and even though a lot of people are glad to see the icons go away, it has been so long coming that for many of us the answer is not "Thank You google" but rather "It's about damn time."

I am personally glad to see google finely fess-up and correct this mistake, but it was a long time coming, and there is a long way yet to go before trust is really restored.
 
I don't see the option about Icons/Texts for buttons under the General tab in the Gmail's Settings. Has it been rolled over already to all users?
 
+Sergejs Usakovs
Go to "gear" ->"settings" -> "general" tab*.
It should be about half-way down. Listed as "Button labels"

*Thank god that they didn't try to make THOSE tabs into icons. The fact that they often avoided iconing many tabs, kind of shoots the whole "icons are better" thing in the foot.
 
+Mike Weaver - "If you continue to listen to feedback, gmail will end up having settings to revert back to the old look"
Exactly.
 
For anyone not seeing the option try refreshing your GMail tab.
 
I need to observe them for a while and then decide how much I like the changes.
 
How about narrowing down those damn huge toolbars above which exists in GMAIL, Reader and.. ??
 
I was annoyed with the change to icons in the recent past. It was a little too MS Word'ish. But you know what, I just got used to them lol. Thanks, but pass :)
 
Great job on listening to user feedback. An icon/text combo (icon on top, text on bottom for example) would not only be useful, but also help transition people. Can we get that option too?
 
Wow! Thank you so much for listening. Most comments go on deaf ears, nice to now Google is not like that at all. Much appreciated.
 
I'm not seeing this option available in my General Settings, which is annoying as I prefer text.
 
Now to search more to see if there is any word as to when this setting will be available to Google Apps domains...
Chan Li
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I like button , It looks fresh and clean
 
Would be useful to have this in Google Apps like many have said, I personally don't mind the button icons and have gotten used to them but the users I support all of a sudden can't use their email.
 
Now seeing that @google upholds Customer Care in high esteem.
 
I would like to change to text, but I cannot find the setting when I click on the Gen. tab.
 
TNP HOST prefers Icons for web hosting company in India
 
And now a way to customize color themes... and toolbars
 
+Marshal Walker i've never left a product over change. This is not merely a change - example - in the release 2 identical gear icons were used to navigate to two different menus. It doesn't take a web designer to know that should have never made it to release. But instead, it took three months for gmail to change it. These issues (wasted space, poor navigation, poor contact implementation) actually make the product an enormous cumulative drain on productivity - not just a matter of preference. Google finally listened about changing their 'mystery meat navigation' (look it up) but only after 5 months of the forums asking about it. This is, plainly, a functional downgrade.... however pretty you may think it is.
 
Thanks for this FIX to something that you didn't need to break in the first place.
(Way to go Google, make us pay for the "business" service/software, and then basically convert it into the basic "gmail" program with Docs. Change the interface to something that is not useful for business .. really don't need all the wasted space, avatar place holders for all email correspondents in every email header and google+ etc. abilities for our company) I really hope that Google hires back the previous design team and redoes this "upgrade". Or at least differentiate between personal and business products.
 
I don't think I've seen uglier icons in my life. At least I can switch back to text.

Now to see how to undo the rest of this appalling update.
 
Aha, I've got text again! Along with the change to the ugly new bright white interface, I'd missed that difference.
 
How can I get the "text" back for the contact pop-ups (when mousing over the "chat" column in the left of the mail page)?
 
Why on earth do I have to search each button to find out what it means? After all this time I haven't gotten used to it. Oh yeah and:
Priit Ise:
"Thanks for this FIX to something that you didn't need to break in the first place."
Absolutely agree.
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