I keep forgetting what all the little icons mean in Gmail. Is there a way I can add labels to make it easier to use?
One of the great challenges of icon design is to come up with symbols that are universal across languages and cultures. One person’s delete icon is another person’s can of soda, or worse! Google has put a lot of attention into its icons, however, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to see the symbols and instantly remember what they all mean.
Fortunately there are quite a few possible solutions. One worth considering is that there are a lot of third party programs that let you work with your Gmail account but with a completely different interface. Both Outlook and Apple Mail can also be configured to work with Gmail, and of course on mobile devices Google has its own Gmail app too.
Not what you seek? Okay, let’s have a closer look. To start, here are those icons, all in a row:
Looked at this way without an email context, it’s pretty obvious how they can be baffling, particularly if you don’t spend tons of time in Gmail on a daily basis.
One thing to keep in mind: Move a cursor over an icon and it’ll pop up a reminder of that button’s function:
These are contextual buttons too, so depending on what you’re doing the buttons and their meaning might change. The pop-up reminders are definitely your friend, though.
Still, it turns out that you can actually change all the buttons to text labels, which might make it all quite a bit easier to work with!
Click on the gear icon on the top right, then choose “Settings“:
Once you’re in Settings, simply scroll down until you find “Button labels“, as shown:
Change it to “Text” (as shown), go to the bottom to Save your changes, then your row of cryptic graphical icons has magically transformed into something I surmise you’ll find far easier to work with:
And that’s how ya do it. Graphical buttons with pop-ups, or text labels, as you prefer.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Gmail for eons. Please check out my extensive Gmail help area for details!