Gmail has evolved over the years from a convenient online email service into a powerful business tool. But as more features have been added to Gmail, the web app’s performance has become less speedy.
It takes a second to several seconds to load (or reload) Gmail in your browser, a source of frustration when you just want to check your inbox or write an email quickly. This can be due to your computer or laptop having a low-end processor, your internet connection being slow, or you having too many extensions installed in your browser.
These tips can make your Gmail load and respond more quickly, so you can get your work done.
- Use keyboard shortcuts
Memorizing the keyboard shortcuts for just a few of the most common functions in Gmail can improve your productivity as you use it and make you feel like it is working faster. Cutting back on moving the cursor around the screen and clicking things on a page invariably speeds up your workflow.
First, you need to check that Gmail is set to recognize keyboard shortcuts. Click the gear icon and then choose Settings. On the General tab, scroll down to “Keyboard shortcuts” and select Keyboard shortcuts on. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.
When you have Gmail open in your browser, type “?” on your keyboard, to see a complete list of keyboard shortcuts. You can also refer to the official “Keyboard shortcuts for Gmail” page.
- Stop the chat window
The default layout of your Gmail inbox includes a chat window in the lower-left corner. You can use it to chat with people in your Google Contacts, but it can slow the initial loading of your inbox and the overall performance of Gmail as you are using it.
This chat window also takes up screen space in the sidebar that shows your email categories and labels. Thus, getting rid of the chat will help you see more of your labels at a glance without having to scroll through them, especially if you have created a long list of labels to assign to your emails.
To banish the chat window, click the gear icon at the upper right of your inbox and then Settings from the drop-down menu. From the tabs running along the top of the screen, choose Chat. Select Chat off and click the Save Changes button. Your inbox will refresh and be free of the chat window.
- Use the HTML-Only version of Gmail
As your Gmail inbox is being loaded or reloaded, you will see a link labeled “Load basic HTML (for slow connections)” in the lower-right corner. Google has anticipated that Gmail could perform less than optimally for you, the longer it takes your Gmail main page to load, the more likely you will notice this option.
Clicking the link loads your Gmail inbox with a simpler user interface. You can compose an email and perform basic maintenance, such as archiving or deleting a message, reporting spam, or marking an email as read or unread. However, several of the robust features in the standard Gmail service are not available, such as scheduling an outgoing email to be sent on a later day or time. Also, be aware that any extension you have installed on Chrome that adds a feature to Gmail will not work under the basic HTML version.
Using the HTML version also requires you to perform extra steps. For example, as you write your email, it is not automatically saved to your Drafts folder. You have to do so manually by clicking the Save Draft button in the email composition window. And there are no single-click buttons to quickly perform email maintenance: To delete an email from the main page, you must click the checkbox next to its sender’s name and then click the Delete button at the top of the page.
However, the HTML version performs very fast, it reacts almost instantly. It is useful even if your internet connection or PC specs aren’t an issue.
- Reduce the number of email conversations shown in your inbox
When you have a lot of emails saved locally on your Gmail, a desktop application that you use to read and manage them may become sluggish sorting through them to present them to you. In that situation, deleting as many emails as you can part with can speed up the application. Because Gmail stores your emails in the cloud, however, deleting them won’t necessarily speed it up.
But there is something you can do to help your browser load your inbox page faster. Scale back the number of conversations that appear in it. Gmail can be set to show 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 or 100 email conversations at once. The greater the number, the more time it takes Gmail to display them.
Whatever number you choose, you will still be able to get to the rest of your messages. It just takes an extra click. You can experiment with different numbers to find the balance between convenience and page-loading speed that works for you.
To make the change, click the gear icon and then Settings. You should be on the General tab. Next to “Maximum page size,” click the drop-down box and select the maximum number of email conversations you want to be shown at once in your inbox. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.
- Use an ad-blocker
Using an adblocker or an anti-tracking extension in Chrome not only speeds up Chrome but also Gmail. uBlock Origin, a traditional ad blocker, and Disconnect, which blocks sites from tracking you can both increase the loading of your Gmail inbox and refresh it significantly. Bear in mind, though, that using an ad blocker could prevent certain Gmail features from working normally.
- Archive your emails
Another technique to try is to archive all your emails that do not need to be visible in your inbox but you don’t want to delete. Archiving them moves them out of the inbox but keeps them readily accessible. With most of your messages archived out of the way, Gmail will only have to load and display new, incoming email conversations that you haven’t read in the inbox.
To archive, a message in your inbox, hover your cursor over the message, then click the first icon that appears over the right end of it: the box with the down arrow is the Archive button. The message will be removed from the inbox, but you can access it by clicking All Mail in the left sidebar.
You can also archive multiple emails in your inbox at once: Click on the checkbox to the left of each message you want to archive. Then click the Archive button in the toolbar that’s above your inbox and below the search box.
- Take it easy with the browser extensions
There are a lot of extensions for Chrome, Firefox and other browsers that add features to Gmail that it doesn’t already have, such as email tracking or additional formatting tools for composing messages. The Gmail Sender Icons extension, for example, shows the domain name and favicon associated with the sender’s email address next to the subject heading of their email, which you will find helpful for quickly identifying senders.
Unfortunately, every one of these extensions can slow down how Gmail loads and performs at least a little. So, stick with only the one or two Gmail extensions that you find most useful.
- Reduce the number of inbox tabs
A nice feature of Gmail’s default inbox view is that it uses Artificial Intelligence wizardry to sort your incoming emails into a category: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates or Forums. Emails that Google decides are most important to you go in the Primary category. Those that contain information tied to your social networks are categorized under Social. Promotional emails that are not spam, go under Promotions. Bills, statements and the like go under Updates, and mailing list messages go into Forums. Each category is represented as a tab along the top of your inbox. Clicking that tab shows you the emails sorted under it.
Alas, these tabs can slow the loading of the Gmail inbox. So, you should keep only the tabs you want and eliminate those you don’t.
Click the gear icon and then choose Configure inbox. In the panel that pops up, uncheck the inbox categories that you don’t want to have anymore. Click the Save button. Incoming emails that would have been sorted under those categories will then go to your main inbox.