After all these years, Gmail for Android gets a feature it needed from day one

Summary

  • Gmail for Android is widely rolling out a Select All option for easier email management, a feature that has been noticeably absent for years.
  • The Select All button is intuitive to use, but it may not select all emails in a view due to the default page limit of 50 emails.
  • Google’s focus on chasing the next big thing often means overlooking smaller improvements, but their innovative potential is what keeps users interested.


Gmail is, without a doubt, one of the best email apps for Android, and it has earned its place as the most widely-used email service in the world — but it’s definitely not perfect. Like most Google products, it has some glaring weaknesses that make you scratch your head, especially in the context of all the industry-leading features, like Help Me Write and advanced search filters, that it does support. Perhaps the most puzzling omission over the years has been the app’s lack of a Select All option — instead, you’ve had to manually select each email you want to delete, archive, or recategorize. That has finally changed.

We first spotted evidence of the Gmail app for Android working on a Select All button back in September. At the time, AssembleDebug of TheSpAndroid had discovered some hidden flags signaling that Google was preparing the feature, but it wasn’t available to regular users. A couple of weeks later, 9to5Google reported that a select few users had spotted the feature in testing, but it wasn’t tied to an app version, and instead relied on a server-side change, likely at the account level.

After seeing a report on Reddit today that the feature was spotted by some users, we did some investigating. On all the devices we tested, spanning multiple Google accounts and Gmail app versions (namely, 2023.11.12.586837719 and 2023.11.26.586591930), the new Select All feature was available, pointing to a widespread rollout.

It’s an intuitive feature, even if it’s extremely late. Simply long-press an email or tap the sender’s avatar on the left to select a single conversation, then you’ll see the new Select All option at the top of the list. Much like the feature that has been available on the desktop site for years, this works in all views, from search results to inboxes and categories.

But there’s one quirky caveat: Select All doesn’t always select every email in a view. Using this option selects all emails on the page, which is 50 by default. A weird artifact of Gmail for Android’s endless scrolling UI is that you can tap Select All, then if the list is long enough, scroll down past the 50th email to see a bunch of emails that aren’t selected (once they load). But if you scroll to the end of a list before tapping Select All, you can actually batch-select however many emails there were in that view.

It might sound crazy to be talking about something as simple as a Select All button for an email app in 2024, but that’s Google in a nutshell. The company always seems set on chasing the next big thing, to the detriment of all the little things that actually improve quality of life. But it’s that exciting potential for game-changers that keeps us interested, even if it’s devolving into a game of throwing AI at a bunch of products to see what sticks.


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