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This free app strips away all the junk to give you the Gmail experience you actually want

Published Apr 26th, 2019 3:41PM EDT
Gmail App For Mac And Windows
Image: Simpl.fyi

Google’s most popular services always seem to follow a familiar pattern. When they’re first released, they’re wonderfully simple and minimalistic alternatives to cluttered, overwhelming products. Google search is the most obvious example, but it’s hardly the only one. Chrome was a faster, simpler alternative to Internet Explorer and Firefox. Google Maps was a faster, simpler alternative to Mapquest. Even Android itself was a faster, simpler alternative to Symbian, Windows Mobile, and the BlackBerry platform. But there’s one Google service in particular that exploded in popularity solely because it simplified a type of product that had been cumbersome and overwhelming since it was first created. That’s right, we’re talking about Gmail.

Before Gmail was first released, email was a huge pain. Okay fine, email is still a huge pain, but it was far worse back then. Free email services were almost completely unheard of — yes, you had to pay for personal email accounts — and storage was very limited. Then Gmail came along and flipped email on its head, offering users unlimited storage and a great set of features, and the only price to pay was giving Google access to your data. On top of all that, the Gmail interface was also a big draw for users because it was so simple and straightforward, which was indeed a breath of fresh air compared to email clients like Microsoft Outlook. As is the case with all of Google’s services though, the simplicity is lost as more and more features are added. Many of those features are quite useful, but there are always people who wish things could go back to the way they were. Well guess what: They can.

Simplify Gmail is a new extension for Google Chrome that was created by Michael Leggett. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was a designer at Google for a period of time, and he co-founded Google Inbox. Inbox, of course, is the alternative email app Google just shuttered, and its small but loyal and vocal user base was not pleased.

The premise of the Simplify Gmail extension is quite simple. It was designed to strip away all of the UI elements that many deem to be clutter, leaving users only with the pieces of the Gmail UI that they need. It works quite well, and people who have tried it so far really seem to love it.

“Simplify was made by me, Michael Leggett, with some help from friends,” Leggett wrote on the Simplify website. “I was Gmail’s lead designer from 2008 to 2012 and co-founded Google Inbox. I’ve been writing Chrome extensions for years to simplify the apps I use but have only ever shared them with friends. With the unfortunate demise of Google Inbox, I wanted to bring the simplified email experience to Gmail.”

As for those of you who might be concerned about installing an extension that is in use while you’re accessing private information in your email account, Leggett had this to say about Simplify and security: “You should always be super careful what extensions or apps you use with your email. Simplify is mostly some CSS plus a little Javascript to apply the CSS. There are no trackers. No data is sent or shared. No ads ever. Promise. And all the code can be inspected on Github.”

Follow this link to install Simplify Gmail for free from the Chrome Web Store

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.