Tired of ever newer updates to Gmail? Curious what a simpler version would look like? Concerned about security? Find out here how to open basic HTML Gmail and enjoy a pure email experience.

First, Emoji on the Web in 1992

When Tim Berners-Lee had successfully invented HTML and the World Wide Web, he produced an example of what the new technology let you do—say, include emoticons with your text.

Today, you will only see the somewhat robotic poker face if you look at the document’s source, of course. Ironic or not, if in turn you cannot see emoji and emails with Gmail’s standard view in your browser, you can open that very Gmail in a version more akin to the early web:

How to Access Basic HTML Gmail in Any Browser

To go to a very basic version of Gmail in any browser:

  1. Go to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/?v=lui .
  2. Log in to Gmail if requested.
  3. Click I’d like to use HTML Gmail if prompted.
    • Tip: You can bookmark the link above to open simple Gmail without making it the default version (see below).

This will open a version of Gmail that lets you read, file and reply to emails as well as set up filters, for example. This version

  • does not rely on JavaScript or other advanced techniques and
  • works in text-only browsers as well as
  • speedily and reliably over even slow internet connections.

How to Access Basic HTML Gmail in Any Browser: FAQ

How can I switch back to normal Gmail?

If you open Gmail using https://mail.google.com/ in the same or any other browser, its fully featured version will open automatically—unless basic HTML is your default view.

With basic HTML as your default, follow the Standard View link in Gmail’s top navigation bar to return to the fully featured version.

Can I make basic HMTL Gmail the default?

Yes. To have Gmail open with simple HTML as the default view:

  1. Log in via the Basic HTML URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/?v=lui .
  2. Click Set basic HTML as default view near the top.

What is it that basic HTML Gmail cannot do?

Gmail’s standard version includes many a feature that the simple HTML interface lacks. These include:

  • Sending messages from an email address other than your Gmail address.
  • Using keyboard shortcuts.
  • Composing messages using rich-text formatting and inline images. (You can include attachments.)
  • Swift composition with predictive text input.
  • Blocking emails using the blocked senders list.
  • Access to extension and add-ons such as Gmail Tasks and Asana or Trello.
  • Profiting from an automatically organized inbox with tabs (Primary, Social, etc.).
  • Automatically prioritizing emails using the importance flag.

(How to access basic HTML Gmail in any browser tested with a desktop browser; updated July 2018; title image: StockUnlimited)