Adding Themes to Gmail

new.blicio.us Follow Nov 29, 2012 · 4 mins read
Adding Themes to Gmail
Share this

Email can feel impersonal, with so many system-generated messages flooding our inboxes each day. While Gmail’s clean interface highlights key details like sender, subject line, and snippet, its stark white background remains unchanging year after year.

Adding visual themes brings a bit more life and personality to your inbox. Both Google’s Gmail and competitors like Outlook, Yahoo Mail, and Hey support varying degrees of email theming to make your mailbox feel more uniquely yours. Read on to learn how to access and configure themes on Gmail along with assessing theming capabilities across other major email platforms.

Activating Themes on Gmail

Google rolls out new themes periodically, but the selection is still fairly limited years after launch. Currently you can choose from a handful of preset backgrounds fitting into broad categories like Abstract, Landscape, Textures, or Flickr Wallpapers sourced from creative commons photos.

To configure themes in Gmail:

    1. In the Gmail app or Gmail site sidebar, click the Settings cog icon.
    1. Select the Themes tab from the menu.
    1. Peruse available backgrounds and select your favorite by clicking the icon.
    1. Click Apply to activate the visual theme.

The whole image won’t display as your background initially. As you scroll through emails, more of the theme gets revealed. Note that image clarity depends on your display resolution settings.

Additionally, Gmail allows toggling between light, dark, and default modes which impacts text, icons, and system elements separate from your chosen custom background.

Finding More Gmail Themes

Google itself only offers around two dozen preset theme options. But independent artists, designers, and developers create alternative custom Gmail themes you can manually install as browser extensions or userscripts.

Top places to discover unique third-party visual themes for Gmail include:

  • Stylish Themes - Library of userstyles applying custom CSS to transform site appearance without functionality changes. Hundreds of members have published visual tweaks for Gmail theming.
  • Userstyles.world - Open source hub offering userstyles for applying skins to web apps. Dozens of creative Gmail themes available here.
  • Userscripts.org - Community script repository ideal for advanced users. Gmail visual theme scripts get posted frequently.
  • Github - Developers often share novel Gmail theme scripts on Github you can directly install via URLs.

When assessing third-party visual theme scripts, always check reviews, ratings, download counts, and recent updates as your best gauge of safety and reliability before trying obscure options. Proceed cautiously granting any requested permissions to avoid privacy violations or potential account risks.

For the most extensive theme collections from trustworthy sources, Stylish Themes, Userstyles.world, and reputable Github creators tend to offer best results. Search “gmail theme” on each platform and filter by most popular or recently updated.

Email Platform Comparison - Who Does Themes Best?

Beyond Gmail, how do other top email providers compare when it comes to customizing your inbox through visual themes? Below explores key platforms’ native theme features.


Microsoft Outlook grants decent theming flexibility between preset options similar to Gmail and support for uploading any image from your device as a fully customizable background. However, visual tweaks get applied web-only rather than carrying over to Outlook’s apps.

Yahoo Mail

Despite its dated reputation, Yahoo Mail offers arguably the most theming options among major free platforms. Alongside dozens of preset backgrounds, you can upload images, configure colors for accents and folders, select gradient options, and tweak transparency. Changes stay consistent across web, iOS, and Android.


Basecamp’s minimalist Hey Email forgoes whimsical theme templates, but makes up for it in background customization tools. Users can upload any personal images while tweaking dimming, blur, and positioning to keep focus on text. You also get full color control over emails, folders, icons and other interface elements.

Apple Mail

Apple’s native Mail app for Mac, iOS, and iPadOS features no native theme support. You must manually code CSS modifications to tweak the appearance slightly without breaking functionality. So third parties offer the only theming solutions for Apple Mail.

Overall, Yahoo Mail surprisingly provides the deepest creative theming among free platforms with wide multi-device support. Outlook takes second with robust controls, albeit limited to web. And Hey Email warrants merit for extreme custom background flexibility shielding text legibility.

Gmail ranks middle of the pack - its template collection can’t compete with Yahoo’s, but manual theme extensions offer alternative variety. Ultimately, Apple Mail badly lags behind rivals unless you utilize complex CSS scripts. Hopefully native visual options arrive eventually across all major email providers to personalize everyone’s inboxes.

Tailoring your platform’s aesthetics uniquely to your taste helps email feel more welcoming. From uploading treasured photos making you smile to choosing colors reflecting your style, don’t settle for a generic backdrop that billions of other inboxes share! Add visual flair to your email today with themes.

Written by new.blicio.us Follow