So your Gmail sidebar menu collapsed and you need to unhide it? You're not alone.
Change is hard. But Google seems to disagree...
I love that Google is always working on new features and functions for Gmail, but every now and then a new feature or design comes along that makes me scratch my head.
The latest Gmail update includes:
- helpful reminders (e.g., "Received 3 days ago. Reply?")
- a new, sleek design
- a snooze feature (you can pick a future date for mail to re-appear in your inbox)
- a collapsing sidebar
I have to say, as a work-from-home professional that uses their personal email for business, I love the snooze feature.
But... a collapsing menu? Why?
Well. I guess I understand why.
People want to maximize their screen space.
Nothing could go wrong with that one. That is unless users aren't clear on how to hide and unhide the sidebar.
That would be no fun at all. Hmm.
So your Gmail sidebar menu has collapsed, and you can't figure out how to keep the sidebar from collapsing? If your left navigation panel is collapsed and only appears if you hover over it, I have the fix.
Here's how to reveal your main menu for good:
- Head to your Gmail.
- Click the Main Menu button.
It's in the upper left corner of the screen above the Compose button. These three horizontal lines are commonly referred to as a "hamburger" menu.
When you hover, it says "Main menu." See the photo below.
This three-line button will hide or unhide the main menu.
Hello, my friend.
When you hide the menu, Gmail will always collapse the main menu by default and show icons only. You can hover over the smaller icons to reveal the full menu with text temporarily.
When you unhide the menu, it will always display the sidebar by default. This is my preferred setting.
I much prefer to have my menu uncollapsed.
As much as I understand the desire to maximize screen space, my brain really can't compute those icons. There are too many menu items (inbox, starred, snoozed, important, sent, drafts, spam, trash) for icons to be feasible for me.
Plus, I actively use my folders/labels, so I like to see the navigation in its full glory.
It's so simple to show/hide the menu, yet it stumped me! The menu button is hidden in plain sight.
Why didn't I think of that?
If you're a user of the Gmail app, you may be more familiar with the hamburger menu. In the app, you don't see the menu at all unless you tap the menu icon on the left side of the search bar.
I think most of us are accustomed to seeing hamburger menus on mobile, so maybe it's the desktop context that's throwing us all off. (You see, I'm assuming you're here because you are/were just as stumped as I was).
And when I went looking for an answer, it seemed I was in good company, so don't beat yourself up. It's so easy to accidentally click the button, perhaps aiming for the frequently-used Compose button.
UX changes are likely the things that keep Google Developers up at night.
Will people know how to collapse the menu?
Will people know how to unhide the menu?
The answer is maybe... but if not, there will be a tutorial for that.
But hey, there's good news.
If you don't like the Gmail sidebar, you can hide it... as you must have discovered if you found yourself here reading this article.
Sorry, my glass half full POV kicked in.
Next, check out my tips for organizing your Gmail inbox. I've used Gmail since it was in Beta testing (I believe it was around 2004 or so), so I know a thing or two about the platform.
I share my tips for using labels, automating your inbox with filters, change the default sorting of your incoming email, archive email, and using my favorite add-on.
What's my favorite add-on, you ask?
Well, you'll just have to read my tips and see for yourself. But, I will tell you: it bundles all of your subscription emails into one easy-to-read daily digest.
What are you waiting for?