How to Switch to Gmail Basic's Simple HTML View

Gmail offers a simple HTML interface for a quick, functional email experience in any browser.

Simple and Simply Unsurpassed?

George RR Martin famously wrote his Song of Ice and Fire novels using WordStar 4.0, software some 30 years old at the time, no longer maintained, and running only on DOS. Why? He continued to find the word processor “unsurpassed.”

Do you find the Gmail interface you used years—perhaps not thirty, but years—ago unsurpassed? Did you like the simplicity of one-page opening to show you the list of messages, another page opening to show you a conversation and a page opening to write a message? Did you appreciate the speed of those pages rendering and wonder how fast they would render on a recent computer? Do you, perhaps, have a DOS box around on which you want to access Gmail?

Be it curiosity, a confused browser or your sheer preference, Gmail does offer a simple and basic HTML interface. It is similar in appearance to earlier iterations of Google's email service and relies on only the most essential browser features.

Gmail Basic HTML should be fast and functional alike (though perhaps a tad less convenient) in just about any browser on any device or platform.

Switch to Gmail Basic HTML View

Gmail Basic HTML
The Lynx browser sporting Gmail Basic HTML.

To open Gmail in a simple HTML view (similar to previous versions of Gmail) that should work in most any browser:

  1. If prompted: Type your Gmail address over Enter your email under Sign in to continue to Gmail.

  2. Select Next.

  3. Now enter your Gmail password over Password.

  4. Select Sign in.

  5. With 2-step authentication enabled:

    • Obtain a sign-in code via app, SMS, phone call, etc.
    • Type (or paste) the code over Enter the 6-digit code under Enter a verification code.
    • Select Done.
  6. Select I’d like to use HTML Gmail under Do you really want to use HTML Gmail? You may have to go to again if Gmail opened the standard interface automatically.

Switch to Full Gmail Standard View

To attempt opening Gmail's standard and fully featured interface from Gmail Basic HTML (for instance, if you opened the HTML view because of a temporarily slow Internet connection), follow the standard link under Gmail view in your Gmail inbox’s footer area.

Force Full Gmail Standard View in Your Browser

To have Gmail load using the standard view even if your browser or connection would have it load in Basic HTML view automatically instead, open in your browser.

Depending on your browser, certain features may not work in Gmail standard view if you force its loading, or the Gmail interface or individual emails may not display correctly.

Features Not Available in Gmail Basic HTML

As fast and potently convenient Gmail Basic HTML may be, it is not without drawbacks, of course; certain actions are less responsive—a new page has to load in the browser, after all—and certain Gmail features are not available at all in Basic HTML view.

Specifically, Gmail Basic HTML does not include: