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How to Easily Access Basic Gmail Mode in Chrome

Hands up if you ever noticed that Google removed a link to switch to the basic HTML version of Gmail?

No, me neither.

Basic mode can be handy, especially in situations when you need a fast way to check your mail but through a slow or metered connection. Gmail will still switch to basic view if it detects a particularly poor or slow connection or you try accessing the webmail service through an unsupported browser. Similarly, it’s still possible to make basic view default for an account.

But for those missing the option to “toggle” it on and off at will, there are solutions that allow you to quickly access it again when you want to rather then when Google thinks you should.

Bookmarks, Baby

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 14.01.39

By far the quickest and easiest way to access the basic view is to add a bookmark linking directly to it to your bookmarks bar. Then, with a simple click, you can load it up when needed, but still use the standard, fully-featured Gmail the rest of the time.

Don’t forget to label your bookmark as ‘basic’ or some such so that you don’t confuse it with a bookmark for the regular version of Gmail. This method had the added bonus of working in any browser, too, including mobile.

Extension Alternative

gmail toggle

An alternative solution is to install the Basic Gmail HTML Toggle extension.

Once added to Chrome, you need only click on the colourful button it adds to the toolbar to quickly toggle between basic view and standard view. No need to faff around with remembering to add bookmarks.

Install Basic HTML Gmail Toggle from Chrome Web Store

  • Jerzy

    What’s the point in installing extensions which stay resident and consume RAM (click Shift+Esc in Chrome to see), when there are bookmarks/bookmarklets for many thing, like this or translating a page, adding to Instapaper, Readable, Delicious, Diigo or even playing Asteroids (erkie @ github)!

    • Different strokes for different folks, I guess. The “idea” behind the extension is that it’s a toggle that is always there. While it will use resources by being resident, it’s not doing so excessively.

      In the end is just boils down to choice. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.

  • Reece Williams

    Basic HTML hasn’t been removed from the UK version (yet) but will keep an eye out for it, in case this is just an American issue.