Hello, clever readers, and happy “inbox zero” day. Of course, with the right accessibility and technical grace, every day can be an inbox-zero day for Gmail users. We’re here with one of the most-requested workarounds for the popular email service–the one that lets you access the desktop version of Gmail’s login page from your mobile device. It’s not particularly difficult, but it sure does seem to have a lot of users stumped, so we’re going to let it out straight, and show you a few more cool tricks along the way.
You can call me old if you want, but I can remember the very first email account that I signed up for, way back in high school. MSN Messenger and AOL Chat were busy revolutionizing the way that I talked to my friends, and it was all the rage to sign up for one of Hotmail’s “free” email accounts. Oh, how the world has changed; it no longer takes thirty seconds to load an email. We can attach actual, full-size images and they don’t take half an hour to send. Most importantly, we can access our email anywhere now that the collective world is packing smartphones in their pockets.
We’re no longer just connected; we’re practically redefining connectivity every day.
Now that Gmail has taken the throne of “best free email service provider,” most users have taken the time to sign up and use one of its surprisingly versatile free accounts. With Gmail, you can get more tools than you ever thought you might need, and if you’re a casual user, you might even end up ignoring the vast number of features given to you at no cost, whatsoever. However, we’re not here to talk about the things that Gmail does let you do. Our focus is on what Gmail apparently won’t let its users do, and it can be a frustrating roadblock for mobile users that are accustomed to a particular email interface.
When you log into Gmail on your desktop computer, you get a clean, organized list of items in your various inboxes, with plenty of screen space to manage them. Out of the many email services I’ve tried and tested, Gmail is one of the few that doesn’t elevate my blood pressure. That calming effect finds itself on an unsteady ground on mobile, however, when optimization forces my familiar Gmail interface and menu system to changes its shape into a gross monstrosity, a minimalistic nightmare of rage-afflicting proportions.
…Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little! The mobile interface is mostly just fine, and even quite appealing for those that enjoy its streamlined approach. After all, Gmail doesn’t alter the appearance of the mobile version of its site to make you upset; instead, it has a fairly compelling reason behind it.
“Beware of computer programmers that carry screwdrivers.” – Leonard Brandwein
When you’re on a desktop or laptop computer, there’s a good chance that all of your online activity is taking place over a Wi-Fi connection. If that’s the case, then you probably don’t care too much about the amount of data you’re using, and as long as it’s a stable connection, Gmail moves at a lightning-quick pace, loading and sending emails almost instantly.
That paradigm changes when you’re bringing your productivity to a mobile device, and the clever software developer knows it. When you’re using a smartphone, there’s the very likely chance that you’re connected to a cellular network, which means that all of your online activity is hanging on your precious, monthly allotment of cellular data. Therefore, app and web developers are going to “optimize” their services and products to be as lightweight and fast as possible. Graphics are usually set aside, both because of all the data they can eat up and the additional time, it takes to load them. Fonts and text are usually standardized and made larger, for the exact same reason.
Overall, it contributes to an easier experience on your smartphone that’s economically sound, but it makes your entire, familiar interface look exceptionally different than what you’re used to. If you’ve found your way to this article, there’s a good chance it doesn’t make you particularly happy, either. It doesn’t even all come down to aesthetic; the desktop version of Gmail is noticeably easier to navigate when it comes to menus and settings, and the mobile version gives the appearance that you’re actually missing access to quite a few of the email service’s deeper options.
The verdict was a long time ago, and optimization is overall a good thing, but not in the sense that some users view it as a removal of their email account’s flexibility. Thankfully, it’s an easy thing to fix, and we’re going to show you how to wrangle it no matter what type of device you’re on.
Desktop Gmail on Mobile Devices
Before I’m branded a heretic, let me iterate that this fix will work on both Android and iOS devices, and it will work in the exact same way no matter which you’re using. Call me a peacemaker, but I find there’s a lot to love about Android and Apple, both, and I make regular use of both operating systems on an almost daily basis.
We’re not even going to need to involve any third-party software, hacks, cheats, or black magic. Even though we love that Voodoo that you do, all that you’ll need is the same web browser that you’re trying to access the desktop version of Gmail on in the first place. Easy, right?
This portion of the guide will be broken down into two parts, laying out separate instructions for Apple Safari users and Google Chrome users. Realistically, the process is nearly identical for each, but since it’s only going to require a few taps, there’s no harm in keeping them separate.
For Safari Users
While Google Chrome is gaining more and more market share every day, even on iOS devices, Safari is still the default that many iPhone and iPad owners turn to. We’ll start here, and show you how to access the desktop version of Gmail.
- First, head to the Gmail website, where you’ll be confronted with the villainous mobile-optimized version. (Just imagine some infamous cackling in the background, while you’re at it.)
- Once it’s loaded, tap and hold the “Refresh” button. It’s right next to your URL bar.
- Next, tap “Request Desktop Site.”
- Revel in your newfound magic, as the desktop version of Gmail loads in before your eyes. (Exit stage, villainous laughter.)
Now, wasn’t that easy? Keep in mind that your mobile browser probably isn’t going to remember your preference for the desktop version of the site. Next time you visit Gmail, you might have to do the same thing again. However, isn’t that a handy way to use optimization when you need it, while still being able to reference the desktop version when it won’t compromise your cellular data?
For Chrome Users
Hopefully, it won’t come as a massive shock, but Chrome’s method of requesting the desktop version of websites is basically the same. The same number of taps, same process, different menu location.
- Open up Chrome and head to the Gmail website. You’ll hit the optimized version first, of course.
- Tap on the menu button next to your URL bar (it looks like an ellipsis.)
- Next, tap on “Request Desktop Site.”
- Watch closely as you’re rewarded with exactly that. It’s like magic, isn’t it?
Like with Safari, Chrome isn’t going to remember your preference for desktop sites unless you actually bookmark the desktop version of the site. Apart from that, those couple extra taps are going to be necessary each time you want to repeat this little magic trick.
If Gmail isn’t the only culprit guilty of this offense, rest assured that the above method will work on almost any site that has a mobile-optimized version for smartphones and tablets. If Facebook or Twitter are getting you down, just repeat the above steps to get access to the desktop version of each of them, with minimal fuss or bother. Similarly, we also realize that there are almost a dozen other mobile browser options available in the app stores; thankfully, almost all of them have some means of requesting the desktop version of a site rather than mobile, and they mostly adhere to similar instructions as those we just discussed.
Your productivity in Gmail is hugely based on your ability to comfortably navigate your inbox, and an important part of that is enjoying the interface. If the mobile version is regularly giving you the runaround, then hopefully our brief guide has shown you the path to a better way. Getting access to the desktop version of Gmail on your mobile device–whether you’re just logging in to check your email briefly, or doing a full “inbox zero”–is a simple task that you can carry out in a few painless steps.
If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below, and as always, share our guide so that we can help more tech-savvy folks!