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How to change your Gmail background

How to change your Gmail background

min read

Have you ever stopped and looked at the background of your Gmail inbox? The default Gmail theme is plain white and gray, but you don’t have to stick with it. Instead, change your inbox background if you want something more colorful or eye-catching. You don’t even need any additional apps or tools.

Outside of the default theme, your options for your Gmail background include:

  • Dark mode
  • Pre-set images and themes from Gmail
  • Your own uploaded photo 

Keep reading to learn how to change your Gmail background and personalize your inbox. 

<a href="#how-to-change-gmail-background" class="anchor-link">How to change Gmail background</a>

  • <a href="#add-pre-set-image-or-theme-to-gmail-background" class="anchor-link">Add a pre-set image or theme to your Gmail background</a>
  • <a href="#change-gmail-background-to-dark-mode" class="anchor-link">Change Gmail background to dark mode</a>
  • <a href="#add-your-own-photo-to-gmail-background" class="anchor-link">Add your own photo to Gmail background</a>

<a href="#reasons-why-you-might-change-your-gmail-background" class="anchor-link">Reasons why you might change your Gmail background</a>
<a href="#why-cant-i-change-my-gmail-theme" class="anchor-link">Why can't I change my Gmail theme?</a>
<a href="#add-themes-to-streak-pipelines-in-gmail" class="anchor-link">Add themes to Streak pipelines in Gmail</a>
<a href="#change-your-gmail-background-to-customize-your-inbox" class="anchor-link">Change your Gmail background to customize your inbox</a>
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How to change Gmail background

It’s important to note that you can only change the background on the desktop version of Gmail. You can’t change the theme of your Gmail mobile app, which will reflect your dark mode preferences on your mobile device. 

With that in mind, here’s how to change your Gmail background on a desktop browser:
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Add a pre-set image or theme to your Gmail background

  1. Start by opening Gmail on your desktop. Click the gear icon on the top right of the screen to open Gmail settings. 
  1. Scroll down the " Theme " section and click “View all.”
A screenshot of Gmail Quick Settings section from the gear icon menu
  1. A new window will pop up with all available pre-set Gmail themes. There are pictures, solid colors, patterns, and digital images. 
A screenshot of the Gmail pre-set themes from the Quick settings section
  1. Scroll through these options to see if there’s one you like. If you click on one of the themes, Gmail will automatically update your Gmail to preview this change. Use the previews to help you decide which theme you like best. 
  2. View more image theme options by clicking the box that says “More Images.”
  1. Clicking “More Images” will open a window with dozens of different photo options. There are animal photos, landscapes, and cityscapes to choose from. 
A screenshot of more images in the pre-set themes of the Quick settings section
  1. Optionally, make changes to a pre-set theme using the menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  1. Change the text background, make the corners of the background darker, or blur the background with these tools. 
  2. Once you’re happy with your new theme, click “Save.”

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Change your Gmail inbox to dark mode

A popular option from the pre-uploaded Gmail themes is Dark mode. As you’d expect, this theme turns the light, bright default Gmail theme into a dark version with black and gray. 

A screenshot of the Gmail's dark theme mode

Find the dark theme next to the Default theme in settings. 

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Add your own photo to your Gmail background

If you don’t love any of the pre-set options, don’t worry. Gmail lets you upload your own image to use as your inbox background. 

  1. Start by locating the image you want to use as your Gmail background. This can be an image you captured or something you downloaded off the internet. 
  2. Open Google Photos and upload the image by dragging and dropping it on the Google Photos page. You can skip steps 2 and 3 if your desired background photo is already in an album in your Google Photos. 
An illustration of Google Photos icon
  1. Choose your desired backup quality and click “Continue.”
A screenshot of options available when storing photos at Google Photos
  1. Click on the image you uploaded and click the three vertical dots to display more options.
  1. Select “Add to album” and add your image to a new or existing album. 
  1. Now go back to Gmail and navigate to Themes settings again. Click “My photos” to view your images in Google Photos.
  1. Click on the album containing your desired background image to open it. Then, click on the photo you want to use as your Gmail background.

A screenshot of one of the images available in pre-set themes My photos section when images were uploaded in Google Photos
  1. Click “Select” to preview that background. 
A screenshot of options available if you are to preview your chosen Gmail background
  1. If you’re happy with the preview, click “Save.”
A screenshot of the Save option available once you have chosen your Gmail background
  1. Like with pre-set options, you can also adjust the text background, make corners darker, and blur the theme.


A screenshot of the Save option available once you have chosen your Gmail background

Note: If your photo seems blurry, you may need to upload a larger file. 
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Reasons why you might change your Gmail background

If you’ve never thought about your Gmail background, you may wonder why people bother changing it. There are a few reasons:

Aesthetic appeal

For people who spend a lot of time working in Gmail, any way to make your inbox more pleasant to look at is a win. 

While some people find the default Gmail theme clean and professional, other Gmail users find more personalized options to be visually appealing. 


Changing your Gmail background helps you make Gmail more personal and tailored to your interests.

For example, you can add an image of a landscape that calms or inspires you, like the ocean or the mountains. Add a picture from a memorable trip you took to or a special moment with family. You can also add your favorite color, sports team, TV show, or anything else that gives you a smile throughout the day. 

Distinguishing between multiple accounts

Many people these days have more than one Gmail account. Use two different Gmail backgrounds to avoid accidentally sending an email from the wrong account (we’ve all been there). Pretty soon you’ll associate the background color or image with the account and immediately recognize which account you’re using. 
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Why can’t I change my Gmail theme?

If you try to change your Gmail theme but can’t, one explanation is that you’re using a Google Workspace account. 

You often don’t have as much freedom to change settings in a Gmail account through your employer or another organization. Your Google Workspace account administrator may have disabled Gmail themes for all users. Contact your administrator for more information. 
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Add themes to Streak pipelines in Gmail

Just as you can change your Gmail background to be more visually appealing and help you distinguish between accounts, you can add different themes to each of your Streak pipelines.

A screenshot of the Streak pipeline where you can also add different background themes


Streak’s pipeline themes are curated color sets to help you identify each stage of your pipeline. Currently, you can choose from 25 different pipeline themes.

A screenshot of Streak's curated color sets for different pipeline themes

Themes offer visual clarity to each stage of your pipelines, and also help you distinguish important emails in your inbox with color-coded labels. 

A screenshot in the Gmail inbox showing the use of Streak's curated color themes for the color-coded labels

To add a theme to your pipeline:

  1. Open the pipeline and click the three-dot menu at the top of your pipeline to view more options.
  2. Click “Stages” and choose a theme from the drop-down menu.
  3. Adjust the colors of individual pipeline stages with the paint palette symbol. 
  4. Click Save to apply the changes to your pipeline.

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Change your Gmail background to customize your inbox

Changing your Gmail background and customizing your Streak pipelines with color-coded themes can help you more quickly identify which process you’re engaging in or remind you of something inspiring throughout your day.

Making a few small changes can make your Gmail inbox more recognizable — and much more functional!

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