Gmail has kept its legacy HTML view accessible, even as the default standard interface has undergone major updates over the years. Google has ostensibly kept it as it allows users on slow connections to access their emails. This is evident from the fact that a link override to load the Basic HTML version is included at the bottom right of the Google Workspace loading page.
Until recently, Gmail users could set this basic HTML view as the default interface. This was possible via an option that used to appear automatically on the top of the page of the HTML version. Nevertheless, during the months leading up to this removal I noticed the setting had no effect as Gmail would default to the standard interface in subsequent sessions.
Another change I’ve noticed is that the link override on the loading page only switches to the HTML version after the standard view has already been loaded.
Gmail HTML View Parameter Override
Despite these unfavourable changes, there is still one sure-fire way of ensuring Gmail loads the HTML version no matter what. This simple workaround involves editing the Gmail URL to force the HTML view without going through the loading page. This is how it works:
- The normal Gmail URL is:
- Add to this URL the following parameter at the end:
- Our final URL will be:
If you have multiple Gmail accounts that you are already signed in to, you can also load them in HTML using the same logic as follows:
The URL that loads the second Gmail account is:
Add to the URL the following parameter:
Our final URL will be:
For any remaining accounts, just change the number after
u to correspond to their order of sign in, i.e.:
- Third account:
- Fourth account:
You get the idea.
Since it’s not practical to keep editing this links every time you want to load Gmail, I recommend you create bookmarks for each URL. I keep mine in the bookmark bar on Firefox & Chrome where it is easy to access them in one click.
Advantages and Disadvantages of using Gmail Basic HTML
- It loads very fast (which means you don’t have to sit through the loading page for a while if your internet speed happens to be slow).
- The interface is lightweight and thus responds quickly to actions.
- The interface has few distractions. No superfluous sidebars, animations and features (meetings, chat, keep, tasks, calendar, contacts etc.) that you perhaps never use.
- No smart editing features that dictate (or rather politely suggest) what you should type.
- Uncluttered settings without too many unnecessary options, i.e. simplified and less overwhelming settings.
- Up to 100 conversations per page (standard view has a max of 50 threads per page)
- Actions like starring, deleting or marking emails as read/unread will require a page reload. On the upside this reload is almost instantaneous if your internet speed is good.
- Adding multiple attachments to an email can be a chore / No drag and drop.
- Not possible to set an inbox type e.g. unread first, important first or starred first which is a good workaround for pinning emails in Gmail.
- No search suggestions.