Tweaking the Google Notifier

I’m a huge fan of Google’s GMail. If you’re looking for a new mail client, you should definitely give it a go; it’s a pleasure to use. If you’re a GMail user, you’ve probably also downloaded the Google Notifier – a tiny application that displays mail alerts in your menu bar. This is where I have a bit of a problem with the Notifier. Actually, this is more of a personal problem than an issue with the application itself. But with a little tweaking, the Google Notifier could really help me out.

The Scenario

For those of you not aware, the Google Notifier usually shows up in your menu bar as a specialized mail icon.

Google Notifier's default alert icon.

When you receive an email, the icon changes color and also shows a number next to it representing the number of new email messages waiting to be read.

Google Notifier's alert icon showing a 1 next to it.

You can click on the icon in the menu bar to see a message preview or go to your inbox, among other actions.

Screenshot of Google Notifier's pull down menu.

Or, if you’re in the middle of something, you can ignore the alert and read your emails later. My problem is that when I see that little red icon up in my menu bar, I cannot concentrate. Something deep inside is calling me to action. I can’t just ignore it. It's not so much that I want to read the email. The problem is that I don’t want to see that little red icon. I want it to be grey. The little red icon gives me the feeling that I have to check on something, that there’s some rogue task that needs to be tended to. So what I usually do is click on “Go to Inbox” and either read the email or just mark it as read and read it later.

But that is just a workaround - an annoying and time-consuming workaround that distracts me from my work, albeit only for a minute. I don’t really want to mark the email as read, because next time I visit my inbox, it would be nice for unread messages to stand out somehow.

The Fix

Instead of marking the email as read, what I actually want to do is clear the notification. I just want that little red icon to turn grey again so I can go about my work.

It seems to me that Google could make a very small tweak to the interface that would save me much time and grief. Why not add an option to “Clear Notification”, which would turn the icon back to grey?

Screenshot showing the proposed change to Google Notifier's pull down menu.

Adding that one little option would make my life so much easier. It’s the small things in life that make the biggest difference, right?

The Conclusion

I agree that perhaps I let the little red icon bother me too much. But, it would be much easier for Google to tweak their app than it would be for me to change my OCD tendencies.

C’mon, Google, can ya help a guy out?