How to Get Rid of the Sidebar in Gmail

The Google Hangouts app comes preinstalled on many operating systems

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about technology ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. He's a PC enthusiast and he... read more
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  • While Gmail may be a popular mail client, you can't help but notice how cluttered it can get.
  • One good example is how the Gmail sidebar can be so distracting at times.
  • Therefore, users have been looking for ways to get rid of the sidebar on Gmail.
how to remove gmail sidebar

You are probably a big fan of Gmail. The email client, like most other Google products, has an intuitive interface that gives you all the tools you need to manage your inbox, sent, and draft email folders.

But, because Google keeps adding new features to Gmail, that interface sometimes feels too damn cluttered. You will be forgiven for wanting to clean or remove Gmail sidebar to get a leaner, more minimalist look.

Should I remove the Gmail sidebar?

Among the things that you may want to delete from your Gmail in order to get that lean look and feel you desire is the Google Hangouts chat box.

Yes, the ability to access all your apps – the entire Google suite, Twitter, and others – from your email client has some benefits.

Yet, those constant chat suggestions, ads, and app notifications can turn your Gmail into a jungle and clutter things up.

There are tools you can use to remove or hide most of the non-essential Gmail features, like the navigation bar, stars, the Gmail logo, and search bar, and some buttons to achieve a truly spartan Gmail. But today we will cover the ways you can use to remove some elements of both sidebars.

Even when it does finally load, I will still get the pesky something is not right or Oops, the system encountered a problem error message as some of the app’s features fail to load.

How can I minimize or remove the Gmail sidebar?

1. Use an alternative email client

If like to keep things simple and minimalistic, even when it comes to mail clients, then maybe an alternative tool would be better for you.

You can find several email clients that let you manage multiple accounts from one central and minimalistic user interface.

Third-party email clients include advanced contact sorting tools, as well as some useful email templates and spellcheckers, so they may actually improve your overall experience.

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2. Turn off Google Hangouts/Chat

1. Log into your Gmail account.

2. Click the settings icon. It’s the gear wheel in the top right corner, right under your profile picture will be.

3. Choose Settings on the drop-down menu.

4. Click the Chat tab and check the Chat Off option.

5. Press the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

turn off chat in gmail

You might have spotted something strange going on on the left of your screen since the latest Google updates. That is because Google has been replacing Hangouts with Google Chat, expecting to give it the traction it needs to be successful.

Google Chat is turned on by default in Gmail, both the website and the mobile app. If you wish to remove the Gmail sidebar, you can turn off Google Chat from your screen.

3. Delete the right sidebar on Gmail

For some people, the Hangouts Chatbox is on the right-hand sidebar. This cramps your Gmail even more as it shrinks the screen space for your emails, which is its primary purpose.

You probably don’t need to see a record of all your recent chats every time you open your Gmail.

Follow these steps to remove the right-side chat box and free up some space;

  1. Click the settings icon and select Settings on the drop-down menu,
  2. Click the Labs folder and type Right side chat in the search bar,
  3. Turn off that lab and save the changes.

If you had already turned off Chat in the Chat folder referred above you may need to first turn it on to access the right sidebar chat lab. You can then go back to the Chat folder settings and turn off Chat again.

4. Remove unimportant labels to remove them from your left sidebar

  1. Click the settings gear icon in your Gmail and choose the Settings option on the drop-down menu,
  2. Click on the Labels folder. You will see a list of labels currently showing on your left sidebar, like this;
  3. Simply check the hide option against every system label and category you have no use for on your sidebar.
remove the Gmail sidebar labels

Have you noticed how you almost never use some of the labels on the left sidebar of your Gmail?

Some of these include All mail, Starred, Personal, Travel, Drafts, [Imap]/Trash, [Imap]/Sent, and Spam.

The more permanent option will be to choose the ‘remove’ option, which will delete the label altogether.

We didn’t want to be that drastic and simply hid them. I can simply click the more button to bring up all the hidden labels.

We chose to hide all the categories and other labels like Drafts, All Mail, Trash, and Spam. That instantly brought a lighter feel and minimalist look to our Gmail.

5. Use the Gmail Ad Remover to clear the right-hand sidebar

  1. Google or search the Chrome Webstore for ‘Adblocker for Gmail’,
  2. Click the Add to Chrome button in the top right corner of the addon’s window.
remove Gmail sidebar with ad remover

Before Google removed the Gadgets feature, you had probably learned to live with images of your Facebook and Twitter feeds on your Gmail constantly taunting you to check your notifications and get distracted from that important email you have to reply to.

But ads right inside your Gmail are just annoying. The worst thing is they compete for the same real estate on which your emails are supposed to display – the right-hand sidebar.

Maybe Google foresaw the irritation these ads would bring and developed the Gmail Adblocker.

Consider other ways of improving your Gmail experience

computer maintenance

Other than cleaning both your right and left sidebars, there is a lot more you can do to minimize or trim your Gmail to make it more manageable.

You can consider unsubscribing from any newsletters you no longer read and delete junk mail or highlight them as spam as soon as you receive them.

There are also some good email management tools like unroll me, which does a great job cleaning your inbox and rolling your favorite newsletters and regular emails into a single bundle.

If you want to be really drastic, you can also consider not publishing your email address and only sharing it with your important contacts.

We hope these few tricks will help clean your sidebars, reduce clutter, and minimize your Gmail.

A leaner Gmail, with lesser distractions, will certainly help you to stay on top of your tasks and get more work done.

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