In the comments of the last post, kmaustral asked if it was possible to make Focus Mode actually save space in Gmail.

“No!” I said, rather trigger-happily. 14 years of doing this has made me shy about any work that changes Gmail, itself always changing. It becomes a maintenance nightmare.

But then I went away. And as I sat in my comfiest seat, staring at the wall that has defined my field of view throughout months of lockdown, I couldn’t help turn my brain to the problem. My brain, you see, is easily tricked into action: just tell it it can’t do something. (Please use this power against me with grace).

So as evening approached, I had a little prod into ActiveInbox’s code using my giant hoard of technical experience (translation: I googled “how do I shrink a webpage”), and it turns out you can very elegantly scale parts of a website down. In a way that should rarely, if ever, need maintenance.

And so I unveil a tweak that takes away most of Gmail’s noise, without any loss of functionality – all you have to do is mouse over the squashed/faded bits, and they spring back to life…

That alluring little ‘Focus Mode’ button holds the key, just give it a confident whack. (If things fade, but no part of the page moves, you’re on an older version of ActiveInbox. Just wait for 7.5.10 to roll out and you’re good to go!).

PS I’m mildly concerned that a bit of work that took only 2 hours actually delights me more than the last 2 months of stressful changes to ActiveInbox. C’est la vie.


This was written by Andy Mitchell