GMail Text Size

Overview

Gamil LogoIf you want to override the text size or change the font in incoming email, there is a way to do this for GMail (Google Mail) using the Google Chrome browser. This guide is for reading email using GMail, not for composing email.

This guide also comes with the caveat that at any point Google may change its underlying code and the tweaks below will require updating. Let us know using the comments feature if the adjustments stop working, and also if they have been useful to you.

Setting up

You need to install the free Stylish extension to Google Chrome.

  1. In Google Chrome, open a new tab.
  2. Click the link to Chrome Web Store. This will either be a large button in the main part of the tab, or at the bottom right corner of the tab.
  3. In the Chrome Web Store, search (top left) for “Stylish”.
  4. On the results page, click the Extensions button at the top.
  5. In the results list, find the Stylish extension written by ‘userstyles.org’.
  6. Click the + Add To Chrome button for the Stylish extension.
  7. Click the Add button in the Confirm New Extension popup that appears.

Stylish will be added to Chrome and its icon will appear top right, next to the main Chrome settings icon.

Creating the customisation to Google Mail

To force GMail to show incoming emails with your choice of font:

  1. In Google Chrome, click the Stylish icon (top right).
  2. Click Manage installed styles from the popup bubble.
  3. Click the Write new style button on the left.
  4. In the Name field, type GMail.
  5. Check the Enabled check box.
  6. Into the Code box on the main part of the page, copy and paste the following:

.gs .ii{
font-family:"times new roman",serif !important;
font-size:12pt;
}
.gs font{
font-family:"times new roman",serif !important;
font-size:12pt;
}

  1. Change the font size, by changing the numbers in the code.
  2. Change the font type, by changing the font-family parts of the code. Here are some examples:
    • font-family:"arial",sans serif !important;
    • font-family:"georgia",serif !important;
    • font-family:"trebuchet MS",sans serif !important;
  3. Click the Specify button at the bottom of the code box.

  4. Change the Applies to drop down menu to ‘URLs on the domain’.
  5. Type the following in the adjacent box: mail.google.com
  6. Click the Add button.
  7. Click the Save button on the left side of the page.
  8. Close the Stylish tab.
  9. Go to Google Mail and you will see the changes.

To change these settings (including deactivating) click the Stylish icon at the top of Google Chrome and then click the Edit link under GMail in the popup.

Changing the background colour when reading emails in GMail

To change the background colour to a light grey when reading incoming email messages, add the following code to your Stylish code box:

.gs{
background-color:#e7e7e7;
}

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30 thoughts on “GMail Text Size

  1. I did every step twice but the email font stayed the same size. Your directions were explicit and easy to follow so I don’t know what went wrong.
    Cindy

    • Hi Cindy,
      Thanks for letting us know. I’ve updated the instructions (these are dependent on Google’s code so when Google changes it’s code the instructions need updating). Everything is the same except that in the code for Part 6 of the font instructions and the background colour instructions replace .Bk with .gs.
      Matt

  2. The font size of Incoming messages in my Gmail are inconsistent…some messages are so tiny I can barely read them. I want them all the same. I tried your instructions for Stylish-Installed Styles but nothing has changed. What did I do wrong?
    Thanks.

    • Hello Anne,
      I’ve just checked the instructions today as sometimes Google changes its code, but all is ok there. This means it’s something to do with the emails that you are receiving. They probably have too specific styling in the code of the email which means our quick fix here is not going to work. At best, all you can do is change the font to one you prefer (add the line of code below to your styles), but changing the size is not as easy as some layouts will require particular sizes of fonts. You can use the browser zoom function instead, this makes everything bigger, but may go some way to helping you out. See: https://readingonscreen.wordpress.com/text-adjustments/browser-text-size/

      Matt

      Additional line for styling every element with the same font:

      .gs .ii *{
      font-family:"times new roman",serif !important;
      }

  3. that’s why I use IE, just go to View, then Zoom In, then pick the size you want based on %,. It will increase or decrease the size of everything on the page.. Ahh, I can see it so much better than in Chrome. Google doesn’t care so much about the user experience. They are more concerned that you do things their way. – imho

    • @JEFFER01 That approach is certainly a quick fix, and we have tips on using zoom and text size browser adjustments in ‘Text Adjustments > Browser Text Size’. The problem is, that zooming will affect the size of all websites you view, and some (GMail being one of them) may lead to horizontal scrolling. The style-sheet approach that targets just specific sites is one way to do this, although as we’ve experience not 100% reliable.

  4. I finally gave up on a real fix for this. In Chrome (I do not like IE and never use it), when I am trying to read tiny email text, I hit Ctrl plus + as many times as needed to make the text readable. When I am finished, I hit Ctrl plus 0 to make the page return to normal size.
    Now if they could stop the cursor from jumping around while I am composing, THAT would be a terrific improvement.

  5. This worked for me, because I wanted to print some email, but the default display font printed out too small. I couldn’t just zoom the printer output because that would cut off the lines. I used the Stylish extension as instructed here, and the printouts used the larger font nicely. Thanks very much for the help!

  6. Thanks for the Extension suggestion! It’s a really cool idea with a well done implementation.

    For those of you having trouble, please bear in mind that this is not the fault of the Original Poster nor the extension itself. Gmail preserves changes to the style information for each email you receive. This will make it impossible for Stylish to get the effect you want because it can’t overrule individual styles given to specific lines in your emails. For example, emails written by your friends with gmail should display fine. However, emails from friends using Yahoo may have specific font and size attributes set by default that they don’t even know about and Stylish won’t be about to fix that. The same is true if you get a fancy promotional email with special formatting and pictures, that is all outside of the grasp of Stylish. The best it can do is make your generic, unaffected text emails the way you want.

    I know Matt already said all this, but I wanted to try to make it more clear.

  7. Matt you are exactly right! It’s so easy. I wish someone had told me that when I first encountered this problem. Let me add that if you are working on a Mac you hold down the Command key and then press + and immediately the text enlarges!

  8. Why can’t gmail use a view that is a default for small, medium and large views? Why do they keep changing their format? The font sizes tend to get smaller and smaller. My screen size hasn’t changed, but Gmail does – why? I used to have a setting of 10 or 12 font, but now that is not possible. Why? Now many of my emails come in fonts of 4 or 6. Why???????

  9. I don’t know if this is related – but I was reading email this afternoon, and suddenly all the text went super tiny – as in almost impossible to read. I have had my font size set at ‘comfortable’ for years, but now I have to hit zoom multiple times to read anything. Nothing else on my computer seems affected – just my Gmail account. Any idea what happened or if it will ‘fix itself’?? Or what I can do?

    • Hello Isla,
      There are two browser-based settings that might have caused this. The text size and zoom. To fix the zoom (this is usually the cause) press CTRL+0 (zero) on your keyboard. To fix the text size, there’ll be a setting within your browser specifically for font size. For Google Chrome, click the menu, choose settings, then choose ‘show advanced settings’ at the bottom of the page. The font size setting is under the heading ‘web content’. In other browsers, the font setting is in the View menu.

  10. HI
    I have managed to sort out the text size, but my problem is the light fonts – tthe main font is still too light for me, as are the links (light blues) and some of the email info (Light greys).
    I don’t like the black backgrounds that are offered as solutions – any other options would be great!
    Benita

    • Hello Benita,

      Within the rules for .gs .ii and .gs font after font-size:12pt; add a new line and enter the following:

      color:#000000;

      This will set the text black.

      To force all links in emails to be default link blue, add a new rule
      .gs a{
      color:#0000ff !important;
      }

      It’s a bit hacky but should do the trick.

      Matt

  11. If anyone still following on this subject…
    I made extension for Google Chrome that will zoom text on Gmail, “V7 Gmail Zoom”.
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/v7-gmail-zoom/nmddnckmbnlpdaehblenpajpfeajaejm

    I didn’t manipulate the font, like described in article, but instead I was playing with CSS3 zoom methods.

    Changing font directly, like John-Michael Patino mentioned in comments, will flattened all fonts in messages (maybe sender wanted to use different font sizes and styles) and also could easily break HTML styled emails (images, divs…).

    Using browser zoom (ctrl+/-) will enlarge all elements of Gmail User Interface, and shrink valuable reading space..

    Besides zooming email content, extension can also zoom list of email (inbox, sent…). Those list also have very small font and hard to read, especially on bigger monitors/resolutions.

    Zoom levels are saved, extension is very light (doesn’t use any additional resources)…

    give it a try
    Cheers

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