Gmail has seen a number of big changes in recent weeks, but Google is now rolling out a smaller one to the web client that better surfaces the advanced search capability to end users.
On the web, Gmail has a standard search bar in the top bar. The right side has long housed a downward-facing chevron that opens advanced search. It lets users refine their queries by who sent (from), recipient (to), Subject, Has the words, Doesn’t have, Size, Date within, folder Search, Has attachment. Once filled out, you can tap “Search” or quickly “Create filter.”
Google has now changed the icon to one for settings, which, in this context, tells users they can control search. Some users might confuse it with preferences if the gear icon was not a few buttons away. That said, it’s physically larger and less forgettable than a triangle.
There is no update to any functionality with this update, it’s only a user interface update.
Meanwhile, the second change updates the prompt text in that field. The unified Gmail with Google Chat and Rooms — soon Spaces — means that there’s one box to look up email and messaging. Instead of “Search mail and chat,” it’s now just “Search all conversations.” It’s a cleaner prompt, but the explicitness of including “chat” was probably more helpful for end users. Those that only use Gmail will just have a “Search mail” prompt.
The rollout of these pair of tweaks to emphasize advanced search in Gmail started rolling out on Monday, and Google expects the “update to be fully rolled out by the end of July 2021.” It’s applicable to both Workspace and personal accounts.