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The New Gmail Review: It Just Doesn't Work

I recently upgraded to the new version of Gmail. I like it. I like being able to see which emails have attachments. I like the automatic suggestions for responding to emails (even though I don't like it reading my emails). I like the new "confidential" mode.

Unfortunately it has one big problem.

The new Gmail doesn't work.

Now Gmail has always been a little feisty with me. I have an old MacBook, I use Firefox in private mode, with plug-ins like Adblock Plus, Disconnect, and uBlock.

But this is totally different.

Sometimes the new Gmail won't load. I'll wait and wait. One minute. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Nothing. I'll try again, and again. I'll restart Firefox and finally get in.

Once Gmail has managed to load, the real fight begins. I use hangouts, or try to, but sometimes they don't show up in the new Gmail. I'll click a conversation and nada. Nope. Good luck buddy.

Fine, I didn't even want to talk to my friends.

But I do want to read and write emails. Which is another thing the new Gmail can't do. Maybe it can do it 90% of the time. But something that works 90% of the time doesn't really work.

This is a problem I find with a lot of Google's products, like the assistant, and the calendar reminders. They work most of the time, but not all the time. If I get to 90% of my meetings, I am in trouble. If Google gives me an alert that my tracked flight has gone down in price 90% of the time, I am still missing a lot of deals (though 50% might be more accurate). It lacks the fidelity to replace tried and true methods.

If I'm trekking into the wilderness, I don't want my tent or my bag or my boots to work just 90% of the time. Yeah, software isn't gear, you say. Well it should be.

Back to Gmail. You see, I'll click an email and get a loading message, and that loading message will stick around for hours. No matter how many times I click that email, and no matter how much of a grace period I offer, it's still loading. Loading. Loading. Loading.

I'm really trying to be kind to the new Gmail, to let it get its sea legs, but this is too much. Checking email is unpleasant enough a ritual already, and to add the frustration of indefinite loads and and multiple restarts—I cannot.

Maybe for people with faster computers using Chrome, the new Gmail is a corvette, but for me it's a jalopy that catches fire whenever you hang a left.

For anyone tired of Google's intrusion into their lives, I recommend the following services:

Both offer free accounts, and both care a bit more about your privacy than Google. You don't even have to give a name. And most importantly—they work.

Yours if you can get it to work. (Image from