Gmail on iPhone: Use the new widget, stack them for more features

iPhone home screen widgets make it easier to access features in apps and they show useful information. Use the new Gmail widget for improved mail features. Stack Gmail widgets on iPhone.

We waited many years for widgets to come to the iPhone and they did not arrive until iOS 14. Some of the early widgets were good, but some were not and it took a while for developers to get the most from them. It took Google a bit longer than others to come up with a useful widget, which is a bit surprising considering the size of the company and the huge amount of talent it must surely have.

The original Gmail widget for iOS was merely OK at best. It did not show what many people wanted to see, and that is the latest emails in the inbox. You could say that this is not needed since notifications tell you what is new in your inbox. However, notifications disappear or are dismissed and are not available after a while, especially after dealing with new emails.

The new iPhone Gmail widget shows the top three emails in your inbox – the sender, the time and enough of the subject to know what it is about. It is a constant reminder on the home screen that there may be things you need to do in the app. Often we read an email and think, I’ll deal with that later. Seeing it on the home screen in the Gmail widget is a useful reminder.

There are currently two Gmail widgets with the iPhone app. The original and a new one. You do not need to choose between then and you can have both of them on the home screen on your iPhone at the same time. Better still, they can be stacked to reduce the amount of screen space they occupy.

Let’s see how to stack the two Gmail widgets so you can quickly access either of them. If new widgets are added in the future, you can add them to the stack. Gmail on iPhone just got a whole lot better!

Stack Gmail widgets on iPhone

1 Add widgets to the home screen

Add widgets to the iPhone home screen
Long press until the iPhone icons wiggle

To add a widget to the home screen on the iPhone, press and hold on an empty space until the icons begin to jiggle. Avoid accidentally touching any of the minus buttons because they delete apps. Press the plus button in the top left corner of the screen.

2 Select the Gmail widget

List of widgets on an iPhone
Select the Gmail widget

The widgets editor appears and swiping up past the highlighted ones at the top reveals a list of apps that provide widgets. Find Gmail and press it to see the widgets Google provides.

3 Select a Gmail widget

Gmail widget selection on iPhone
Choose the Gmail widget you want

There are two Gmail widgets, as indicated by the two dots at the bottom, just above the blue button. More widgets may be added in the future. Swipe left and right over the widget to see them and select the one you want. In the screenshot is the new Gmail widget that is a big improvement over the original. Press Add Widget to add it to the iPhone home screen.

4 Position the home screen widget

Position the Gmail widget on the iPhone home screen
Drag the Gmail widget to the top of the screen

The home screen appears and the widget appears on it. Press and drag the widget to the place you want it. It can be at the top, bottom or in the middle. It is up to you. Widgets can appear on any screen, not just the home screen, but home is usually best.

If this is all you want, press the Done button in the top right corner. However, there are two Gmail widgets and we can add the second one and have both of them on the screen at the same time, which gives us more features. Press the plus button in the top left corner again.

5 Add more widgets

Select a Gmail widget on the iPhone
Select a Gmail widget

Repeat what you did earlier: Tap the plus button, swipe up, tap Gmail and then swipe over the widget to see the other Gmail widget. Let’s add this to the iPhone home screen. Press Add Widget.

6 Stack widgets on the iPhone

Arrange Gmail widgets on the iPhone home screen
Arrange the home screen widgets

We now have two Gmail widgets on the iPhone home screen. Two widgets this size this take up far too much space and there is little space left for anything else. To save screen space, widgets can be stacked one on top of the other. They need to be the same size, but in this case they are, so it is OK.

Press and drag the widget you want on the bottom of the stack to the top of the screen. For example, place the old Gmail widget at the top. Then press and drag the other widget and drop it on top of the first one. It will snap into place if you do it right.

7 Stacked Gmail widgets

Stacked Gmail widgets on the iPhone home screen
Stacked Gmail widgets on iOS

The Gmail widgets are now stacked one on top of the other. There are two widgets in this stack as indicated by the two vertical dots on the right side of them. More could be added to the stack, even ones from other apps providing they are the same size, but let’s leave it at two. Press the Done button to finish.

All the buttons disappear and this leaves the widget and icons on the home screen. Now the new Gmail widget is on top and swiping up or down over it shows the other one. You can switch between the two Gmail widgets with a flick of a finger.

The new Gmail widget shows the top three emails in your inbox. Tap one to open it. Tap the pencil icon to create a new email. Swipe up to show the second Gmail widget and tap the search box to search your emails. It is useful to have both widgets stacked like this.

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