Yahoo Restores ‘Smarter’ Email Tabs

Following a major email outage and a controversial redesign, Yahoo has brought back the Tabs feature to its email service

Yahoo has reinstated the Tabs feature in Yahoo Mail, responding to user pushback against its October redesign.

“Tabs are back!” Jeff Bonforte, senior vice president of communications at Yahoo, wrote in a 19 December blog post.

Tab improvements

Yahoo didn’t just bring back Tabs; it improved the feature, according to Bonforte.

“One of the things you told us that annoyed you about tabs is that the more you had open, the harder they were to manage, and you wanted multi-tasking to be easy. With your feedback, we launched Recent view to help you jump between emails, drafts and search results more easily, but many of you still missed Tabs. So we’re bringing back Tabs, but this time, they’re a bit smarter,” Bonforte explained.

marissa-mayer“… Sometimes, when you have a lot of tabs open, it’s hard to find the one you want. We’ve fixed that. In the Tabs menu (under the arrows icon after the last tab), you will see an option to Preview All. Open a few tabs and see how it works,” he continued.

A shortcut for previewing all open tabs is to hit the esc key. To turn on the new Tabs, click View, Multitasking and select Tabs.

Yahoo also smartened up and made using Tabs – or keeping Recent view, for those who prefer it – a user choice this time.

Yahoo’s Frustrating Week

The gift of Tabs follows what chief executive Marissa Mayer called a “very frustrating week” for Yahoo Mail users, some of whom lost service for several days, beginning on 9 December.

The outage affected a very small, but generally livid, group of Yahoo Mail users, and was caused by what Mayer, in an apologetic 13 December blog post, called a “particularly rare” hardware issue.

“We can, and we will, do better in the future,” said Mayer.

Since becoming chief executive in June 2012, Mayer has instigated a raft of changes at Yahoo, from overhauling the management team to redesigning My Yahoo and encouraging collaboration by ending work-at-home arrangements – a decision that made headlines, and stirred debate, around the world.

Yahoo also acquired more than a dozen companies during Mayer’s first year, and in September, it introduced a new logo.

“Over the past year, there’s been a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo, and we want everything we do to reflect this spirit of innovation,” Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt wrote in an August blog post, announcing the big logo change was coming.

What Yahoo hasn’t changed much, is its balance sheet. During its fiscal 2013 third quarter, it announced October 17, earnings were essentially flat from a year ago, despite managing to reverse a two-year trend of falling user numbers – a reversal that Mayer called “unprecedented” for a company Yahoo’s size.

The Mail outage, and the well-intentioned redesign, haven’t helped Yahoo in its efforts to change popular sentiment around the brand.

Endpoint Technologies’ analyst Roger Kay, responding to the Mail outage on 16 December, called Mail “still terrible”. While the changes under Mayer have been cosmetic, he told eWEEK, “What Yahoo Mail really needs is a root canal.”

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Originally published on eWeek.