How to deal with Yahoo Mail’s new design changes

yahmaRecently Yahoo did a complete redesign of their popular Yahoo Mail service. It’s left many of the online community up in arms because it came completely without warning and removes many essential features. While there’s no perfect fix, there are things you can do if you’re struggling with the new design

The first thing to say about this is that Yahoo’s actions are a lesson in how NOT to keep users happy.

They took a fast, efficient and well-loved mail platform and turned it upside down without giving any kind of consideration to their end users.

Boo hiss.

While I’m sure the intention was pure and that the aim was to produce something bigger and better for their users, the end result has been an unmitigated disaster with literally hundreds of thousands of people up in arms online.

Has the new Yahoo Mail redesign affected you?

If you use Yahoo Mail these changes may not have affected you because they appear to have split tested the new system.

In other words some people (including myself) won’t have noticed any changes, while others (such as my partner Sophie) will have been automatically placed on the new system.

I’m in the unique position where I can view and test the two side by side and the main changes include:

1. Gmail style ‘grouped’ conversations

Instead of individual emails being kept separate, the new system groups certain messages together in a conversation format – so emails between two people will be lumped together.

2. No more tabs

When you double clicked on an email or composed a new draft it used to appear as a new tab so that you can easily flit between messages you were working on. This feature has been removed. Bizarre.

3. Hidden sidebars

Presumably they’ve done this for a more minimal ‘look’. In reality it just means that it’s hard to find any of the damn folders you want. When you do hover over the correct part it flashes up at you like a horrible strobe light. 

4. Slower load up time, lots of bugs and drafts not saving

I’m assuming this is not intentional, but the new Yahoo Mail interface is extremely glitchy. Drafts aren’t being saved properly and the whole system loads at snail pace. It’s awful. 

How to restore some of the old features

Unfortunately there’s no way to simply go back to the previous option. It’s crazy that Yahoo haven’t provided a “go back” tool but it is what it is.

The good news is there are couple of things you can do if the new interface is driving you completely round the bend.

To remove the Gmail style conversations 

Click on ‘settings’ (which you’ll find in the little cog like icon on the top right of your screen).

Now click on the ‘viewing email’ tab on the left hand side.

You should then see the following screen:


Simply follow the instructions on the screenshot.

To go back to a simplified version of Yahoo Mail

You still don’t get tabs with this but at least it works, is much zippier and sends a message to Yahoo that you are NOT HAPPY with the new version (they monitor this stuff).

Click on ‘settings’ (as above) and go to ‘viewing email’ (again, as above).

Your screen should look like this – simply follow the instructions:


Again this is not a perfect solution. It’s a very pared down version of Yahoo Mail that lacks most of the bells and whistles, but at least it works and things are in the right place. If the new version is driving you mad this might be your best option for now – while we wait to see what Yahoo do.

Make your voice heard online so that Yahoo see sense and fix this mess

One of the reasons a number of us use Yahoo Mail is because it’s NOT Gmail and it’s not Microsoft Outlook.

They don’t want their emails grouped into conversations and they don’t want a design that looks like their work email.

Petition to get the old Yahoo Mail back:

Someone’s created a petition that you can sign here:

Bring Back the Old Version of Yahoo Mail

Make your votes (and voice) heard on Yahoo’s own forums:

There are hundreds of thousands of complaints from Yahoo users already so if you can’t stand the new changes, add your votes or voice your complaint:

Vote and have your say on Yahoo’s own forums

Simply click the ‘vote’ button to agree with the post, or ‘enter an idea’ to start a new thread.

Have you struggled with Yahoo Mail’s changes? Maybe you think it’s a step in the right direction or maybe you think it should be sent rocketing into Room 101. Have your say in the comments below.

19 responses to “How to deal with Yahoo Mail’s new design changes”

  1. Great article. I’m the petition organizer for the petition (and urge everyone to sign). Yahoo’s latest announcement about “multitasking” does nothing to address the needs of users, so we are still waiting for a solution.

    Yahoo has turned its back on its very large loyal user base. People are leaving – in fact, the yahoo feedback page, and the facebook group, have turned into a place to discuss alternate email providers, as no one expects Yahoo to address this.

    It’s truly a shame that a company can completely turn its back on its users like this. And more of a shame that the results of this change won’t be seen until the new user count, page view, ad click and stock price numbers come out, probably in early 2014. If you have Yahoo stock, I’d sell now.

  2. The new redesign of yahoo mail is indeed a fiasco. I have been a yahoo mail user since 2000 and I loved the tabs, the easy access to folders… in brief everything that made Yahoo stand out among e-mail providers and that Marissa Mayer mindlessly destroyed. I never liked gmail ! Why did she have to turn yahoo into a knock-off of gmail ?! What makes this worse is that she refuses to acknowledge the criticism she received. She will be remembered as the woman who destroyed Yahoo.

  3. What I find completely unbelievable is that they have turned off POP, claiming a bug, even though it was working fine about a week ago, or so I have heard. I am a free user, and this option was supposed to be available for us now, but the checkbox that you are supposed to click (under Accounts –> Edit) to allow checking email from other places is missing. So I have no way right now to seamlessly transition to a new email provider, or even to use an email client with my yahoo mail. We are being held hostage. I am blown away by this. I opened an incident several days ago about this – but not holding my breath that I will hear anything back. I wish there was a way to broadcast this fiasco to a larger audience.

  4. Great article for how to retrieve at least some sanity with the new yahoo – at least for how to get rid of “conversations” format in the inbox. The button to return to basic doesn’t save, though, in spite of weeks of trying. When you reopen, it opens in the new version. And the Basic version is not the old version; it’s simply a paired down new version that doesn’t let you format emails. Their new “Recent” feature – an attempt to make up for loss of tabs and access to folders – is insult to injury. It doesn’t address any of the problems with the removal of the multi-tasking capabilities of the old yahoo mail

    • Thanks Lorraine!

      Sorry, that’s frustrating that the basic button isn’t saving for you. It seems to have worked for some people but obviously not others – another maddening example of the glitchiness of the new system.

  5. Excellent article. Unfortunately, for many of us, the workarounds aren’t adequate since they don’t include tabs and the former reliability of Yahoo has been shattered, with many documented instances of mail not being delivered or being delivered extremely late (in my case, one email not delivered at all and four emails either delivered or received more than 24 hours late. There is no way to track how many others of the dozens of emails I send each day have vanished.)

    Yahoo, why do you continue to think you’re so much smarter than your users?

  6. It’s not only “glitchiness”-It’s just BAD design.”X” as “Save”?,Well that is certainly innovative but it is miles away from intuitive. The Formatting bar way at the bottom? I’m trying to write an email and I want to highlight or bold.Instead of having the bar right in front of me , where I can easily access it,the bar is now out of sight at the bottom and I have to scroll way down-using my browser scroll because Yahoo removed the window scroll. I can’t believe anyone could design anything this bad.Functions that once took 1 step , now take 3 How does that help anyone do anything? Yahoos response to all the negative feedback is also ridiculous “some people just don’t like change”. No , Yahoo ,people don’t like change when it makes things ten times worse than they used to be.(And Thanks for working so hard to shut down the workarounds that let us use the old version.)

  7. I am so disappointed with the new version of Yahoo that I opened (2) other e-mail accounts, just in case they don’t come to their damn senses and switch us back. I went to the basic button and got some of the old version but it won’t let me forward under BCC and sometimes it won’t let me forward anything. It absolutely STINKS!!!!I hate it, hate it, hate it.

  8. I’m so glad to find it’s not just me. I’ve been a loyal user of Yahoo mail for over fifteen years.
    I’ve been repeating to myself ‘Don’t be a luddite’
    It hasn’t worked.
    Please listen Yahoo to these relevant points. Critique can be constructive, but only if you listen to it.

    • Hi Martin,

      Don’t worry, you’re definitely not being a luddite! Literally hundreds of thousands of people are complaining about the new changes. I do hope they listen to their users.

  9. had been stunned by its introduction – unannounced. total disregard for their users/specially silver surfers like me. bordering on arrogance. wish someone would come up with a user friendly replacement. PLEASE. surprised that the anger hasn’t reached the mainstream papers yet and this publication seems to be the first to mention it.

  10. Did Marissa Mayer fire all of the program designers who knew what they were doing??? It’s been a month & I’m done. Would it have been so difficult to have the OPTION of TABS? What idiot thought it was a good idea to place ATTACHMENTS at the bottom of message threads? When did X become the symbol to SAVE? In an era when ACCESSIBILITY is at the forefront of human rights, why is the FONT difficult to read against all the “pretty” themes and FOLDERS impossible to view & open? Still waiting for answers to these questions and many others. I can wait no longer. I have 10+ year old accounts with Yahoo Mail that I have to migrate to Gmail. It is a choice between the lesser of two evils, I can’t spend my valuable time searching for workarounds so I can have a functional email service.

  11. Thank you for this information, I will be sharing it with friends and family who use Yahoo,keep up the good work C.K.

  12. Not just the email system that’s mucked up, but the home page and groups have been ruined. Overall, yahoo period isn’t working for their users anymore. I was a mail plus customer but I’ve moved both my email and home page to other providers. Yahoo is just not worth the trouble anymore.

  13. Thank you fro understanding the users frustrations with Yahoo and for taking the time to go over the new features and how to enable/disable them. Wish Yahoo did a better job of it. TABS are still very missed, and it is sad that Yahoo does not listen to its users and does not understand what they like about using Yahoo. Maybe Yahoo will understand it’s mistake after many people leave, maybe not. Yahoo took a perfectly good interface that was loved by many and simply destroyed it to be another Gmail clone. Talk about taking two steps back. Imagine if Firefox or IE took tabs out of web browsers, that’s pretty much what Yahoo just did.

  14. Thank you for the workarounds.
    Am I the only person having trouble with delete ? I get on average 200+ emails a day. some of them spam , some facebook or freecycle – you get the idea .I start deleting emails and only get so far before it just doesn’t want to play anymore . I now find the only way I can delete various large amounts of emails is if I log out and log back in again.This is an absolute pain .
    Its throwing loads of emails I regularly read into spam . And whats with the continual scroll of emails rather than 25 on page 1 25 on page 2 and so on . I knew where things were then . some of these have probably got tech type names that I dont know.
    I follow so many different sites I’m really reluctant to having to change but I’m heading that way

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