Anger explodes at Yahoo Mail redesign disaster: Key functions removed or broken

Anger explodes at Yahoo Mail redesign disaster: Key functions removed or broken

Summary: Thousands upon thousands of furious Yahoo Mail users are telling the company its new redesign is a failure and want Yahoo to revert the changes — while new reports of serious technical issues mount. UPDATED to reflect Yahoo's statement.


For Yahoo Mail's 16th anniversary, the company surprised its users with a complete inbox and mail redesign implemented on October 8 — and users think it's a disaster.

Six days later, thousands upon thousands of furious Mail users are telling Yahoo they are enraged at the removal of key functions, and many report serious technical problems.

Essential functions missing or badly placed

yahoo mail redesign failure

In an apparent redesign backfire, Yahoo has removed — or misplaced — essential Yahoo Mail functions.

Users are outraged that they can no longer organize their Inbox by Tabs or Sort by Sender, they can't view their Folders unless they leave the inbox, new emails are no longer bold, and the delete button is turning out to be disastrously placed next to sender name.

Another widely repeated issue is the redesign's missing-in-action print button.

It is of the few among thousands of livid Uservoice comments to receive a reply from Yahoo Product Support, saying, "We are looking into this issue" and that the user should use Command-P in the meantime.

Riddled with technical failures and glitches

The "bug" or "error" category currently has 3,946 entries, spanning over 200 pages.

An astonishing number of users report broken functions that include autosave, draft deletion, Use SSL and more, with some reporting contact emails being deleted and their emails disappearing.

It has been reported that Yahoo is removing email addresses from user address books without consent.

In one documented instance, the user re-added the contact's email address, only to have Yahoo go back into their address book and remove it again.

Some users have told Yahoo that their emails are disappearing from folders or after being sent.

An overwhelming outpouring of Do Not Want

The most recent thread on the "Tell us what you think about Yahoo Mail" Uservoice page, "Please Bring Back Tabs" has 23,869 votes and 2126 users telling Yahoo to revert the redesign and restore key features and functionality.

There are many more threads, stretching the post's page count to the thousands. As of this writing, the votes and comments increase in hundreds by the hour. 

Yahoo's removal of Mail Tabs is a huge issue for many users, as well as users no longer being able to sort by Sender and by Subject.

An extremely important feature has disappeared.

This must be a bug because nobody in their right mind would remove such a feature.

Angry litanies are filling comments sections offsite as well, on news articles about the redesign.

One unhappy user typified the cold-shower Yahoo Mail user experience being described in the tidal wave of negative comments about the new design:

First, signing into my account and immediately encountering an alien mail interface highly reminiscent of Gmail that then took me several minutes to puzzle through in order to turn off the various enhancements Yahoo deemed effective for me to use was infuriating. I am 35 years old and moderately competent in digital navigation. It took me several minutes to fully figure out how to turn off features I neither asked for nor wanted.

(...) In the Yahoo Mail interface I was using only days ago, I could have multiple tabs open for various messages and compositions, switching back and forth with ease.

(...) Partially completed drafts of sent emails have stayed frozen in my Drafts folder since last night without the ability to delete them. Yes, I signed out of Yahoo and resigned in again. No change. I closed by browser and reopened it. The frozen drafts remained.

Then, this evening after I spent just over an hour composing a letter to one of my colleagues, I sent the completed email to him without any discernable hitch. (TF N---- October 10, 2013, 11:27pm, WebProNews)

But his email never arrived and did not remain in the Sent folder.

The email disappeared, unsent and unsaved. Additionally, he discovered that Yahoo Mail's autosave function was simply not working.

Trying to be more like Gmail

The redesign is Yahoo Mail's second redesign within a year (under the leadership of former Google executive, current Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer). It was publicized at launch as Yahoo's bid to make Yahoo Mail more like Gmail.

Mayer left Google for Yahoo over a year ago.

Chris Crum at WebProNews reported:

Even the guy who ran Yahoo Mail since 2009 left the company (he now works at Disney), and rumor has it that his departure was not amicable, and that he left because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with CEO Marissa Mayer on her decision to overhaul Yahoo Mail.

Not surprisingly, many of the thousands of people coming forward to report bugs and usability failures are also saying that they preferred Yahoo Mail specifically because it was not Gmail.

There is now a Facebook Group, "Yahoo's New Mail Fail: Open Letter To Marissa Mayer"

Yahoo apparently also followed Google's lead by ignoring the fact that Gmail's new Compose - also forced on users — has been loudly and strongly disliked by a significant number of Gmail users.

According to recent comScore data as reported by the Associated Press, Yahoo Mail has 289 million monthly users, second to Gmail's 304 million.

The second Yahoo Mail redesign within a year

The previous Yahoo Mail redesign, only seven months ago, also angered users and caused a significant backlash of fast and continuous complaints, usability problems and glitch reports.

That time, Yahoo Mail users reported slowness, freezing and hanging, and issues such as:

It’s slow, ignores clicks, seems to repeat clicks and delete items you were expecting to delete. In terms of design, it’s awful.

The size of emails is no longer on the main list, so you can’t defer opening large emails until later. You cannot adjust the size of columns.

The folder list rolls off when you scroll the email list. You cannot easily delete multiple emails from the main list at once — you have to go one by one…

That was last December — but the same bugs are flooding the Yahoo's new "Tell us what you think" Uservoice post.

The post now spanning 1,860 pages and the word "hate" is common.

One Yahoo Mail user who reported missing email concluded his comment with a sentiment being widely reflected by yahoo Mail users across the Internet:

You screwed up Yahoo. Your urge to market, to innovate, to heighten your appeal and brand in order to ensnare new users has failed at least one of your old, loyal ones. This one.

Coincidence or no, your enormous breach of etiquette and thoughtless tact has broken the relationship between this consumer and your corporation.

Update October 15, 2013 2:27pm PST: Statement from Yahoo reproduced in full below. 

Yahoo responded to ZDNet's request for comment by ignoring what we asked and giving us a Help page link, descriptions of its design changes, and copy/pasted text used repeatedly by Admins in its Uservoice forums about how these changes are part of 'modernizing' Yahoo.

The company did not address ZDNet's specific question about user anger, and specific technical problems such as repeated removal of users' valid email contacts.

Instead, a Yahoo spokesperson provided a short descriptions of only three changes (not addressing the removed functions), provided a Help page link on how to restore "missing" contacts, and sent a copy/paste of the "We recognize this is a lot of change" text used by anonymous Yahoo representatives (such as this example):

Response on where features are now within Mail:

- "Delete" is now a quick action that appears on hover (as a trash can) that is available per message or per conversation.

- "Sort by sender" is also now available as a quick action that appears on hover (as a magnifying glass) and is available on a per message basis. It is a fast and easy way to search by sender.

- New emails are now highlighted with a color ball to the left. You can toggle the read/unread status by clicking on that ball. It is more efficient than before.

Yahoo statement on user feedback:

"We deeply value how much our users care about Yahoo and are constantly engaging with our products. We recently made some design changes to Yahoo Mail. These changes are an important step to building a more modern and personalized Yahoo!. We recognize that this is a lot of change and are listening to all of the community feedback. Additionally, we're actively measuring user feedback so we can continuously make improvements."

Yahoo statement on address book changes:

“In June, we announced an opportunity for users to sign up for the Yahoo username they've always wanted. We're able to do this because we're freeing up usernames that were inactive for at least 12 months. As part of this recycling process, if an inactive account is listed within a Yahoo address book, it is automatically removed when the account is recycled. This is so that we can ensure that email is sent to the intended recipient. Any other information such as phone numbers, mailing addresses, or alternate email addresses within the contact remains. If a user believes their Yahoo Contacts were removed in error, we encourage them to review this help article about restoring missing contacts for more information."

Topics: Tech Industry, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Worst customer service call ever

    I had several issues with the new Yahoo mail last week when it first rolled out. Primarily, I wasn't able to attach a file to an email that I needed to send out. So I researched the issue and found that I wasn't the only one. I couldn't access the online help center either, so I found a phone number for customer service.

    The service rep answered "Tech Support, how may I help you?" but didn't identify himself as working for Yahoo, but I figured it was an out-sourced call center that did tech support for several companies. I explained the situation, and he told me he needed to take remote control of my computer. What? I had never heard of any customer service site request something like that. I told him that was unacceptable and that he could just walk me through whatever steps he was going to take. He refused saying that this was the only way. I insisted that there had to be another way, and he got snotty. "If there was another way, sir, I would have told you in the very beginning of this call." I used some choice expletives and hung up.

    The situation resolved itself several hours later, but I'm still fuming over that call. And Yahoo's careless and unwanted "upgrade".
    • Yahoo sends me to its mobile UI every time

      ... even tho I'm visiting from a desktop. Tried it w/ IE, Chrome and Firefox. All the same. Very bad design.
      • Doesn't do that for me

        IE, Firefox, Seamonkey, doesn't matter, it *always* goes to the *regular* site.
    • I Agree!

      Get out while you still can...don't use yahoo for anything even remotely important as they think
      all there users are dispensable & don't even have the manners of communicating with you if you have a problem. They are going down.
      • Grammar

        "all there users"

        Should be "their users."

        Fix please.
        Joe Keilso
    • That might not have been Yahoo support...

      When you search for Yahoo, Google or Microsoft support you often will find links to fake support companies that, in spite of what they claim, or what certifications they shoe on their website, are in no way associated with the company they claim to be. Generally they will ask to log in, and will show you system log page to demonstrate how many errors are on your computer, claim that this is the problem, and offer to fix it for $150-300. I get calls on these companies regularly.
      You were right to hang up.
    • Wow, that is a joke.

      You should only be asking for remote assistance if the person can't understand what the service rep is trying to do. I don't know the exact procedure in what a service rep needs to do in order to gain access to your PC but you never, ever ask anyone to do a remote desktop without actually trying to figure out the problem first. And i am still having trouble getting the new format to work i have to keep clicking on basic mail every time i load yahoo. I think if they don't go back to basic mail and leave it alone i might just have to close my yahoo account. Gmail seems more reliable so i'll be using that instead. I do have multiple accounts, usually to avoid having junk mail all in one inbox. It's easier separating them out.

      Thanks for the info.

      Read more @ Earthsurfng Blog
      Victor Inyang
      • Caps Lock

        Chill off the caps lock, please. Our poor, innocent eyes cry and shudder in fear when you abuse the caps lock. OK? Thanks. Bye.
        Joe Keilso
  • Yahoo gave Yahoo Groups a new interface in August and September, now E-mail

    The continuing "let's change the interface for the sake of change" Yahoo disaster is now on to e-mail after thoroughly trashing Yahoo Groups with the Neo interface. I take note of 3 particulars:

    Yahoo must be using the same incompetent programmers that have worked on the ObamaCare federal exchanges (used by over 32 states). I have never seen such buggy software rolled out for public use, and such delays in fixing the reported bugs. Add to the appearance and fact of total incompetence by Yahoo is the arrogance of those replying to the public's compaints and bug reports. The arrogance apparently stems from the top - "we're going to continue this implementation no matter how messed up. We will not retreat to working software no matter what" - again reminds me of the concurrent medical insurance exchange disaster.
    thinking about consequences
    • Yahoo Groups ... Same Sentiments ... Big, Big Changes All For Nothing

      I have to agree. At Yahoo, it seems they had nothing better to do, so they started playing musical chairs with their tried and true interfaces? Why? For the fun of it. In short, I feel OS and web site interface changes should be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Making many dramatic changes all at once changes seasoned, experienced users into instant novices. It's absolutely maddening! Thanks for your comment.
  • I demanded. . .

    I sent my feedback.
    I demanded whoever the IDIOT is to change the email to something WE ALL HATE, be fired.
    But, I doubt it'll have any impact, were just users.
    • A familiar feeling

      Demands haven't worked yet over the Windows 8 disaster.
    • Thanks

      Thanks for the feedback. I'll be sure to forward your concerns to the donkey sitting in front of our Customer Relations desk. He'll be more than happy to help you. K. Thx. Bai.
      Joe Keilso
  • Yahoo mail is a disaster for business

    This update has severely impacted my ability to work! We started a petition at:

    and have 1000+ signatures in 2 days. I'd suggest everyone read the comments there - people are unable to multitask, seem to be losing work and those with visual impairments are shut out completely.

    Please sign this petition, register your complaint at yahoo feedback and do anything you can to get these changes rolled back.
    • Doubt Marissa Mayer will give a flying leap about your petition ...

      The fact she forced this change, without customer choice or without a normal beta period, means she doesn't care what customers think.

      The solution is to use something else, until this arrogant bimbo is either fired or pulls her head out of her posterior.
      • You're probably right

        Haha, you're probably right. At least it's worth a shot...
      • Doubt Marissa Mayer will give a flying leap about your petition

        I do believe the Marissa Mayer is living proof that the Peter Principle makes a valid argument.
        Roy Seals
    • You get what you pay for

      If your business is too penny-pinching to spend money for business-class email, & is relying on *personal*-level email service for *business* operations...then a minor issue with the email interface is probably the least of the concerns your business should be worrying about.
      • Clearly you are not in business.

        What you call "business class" email is an expensive proposition. Not only is there the need for a competent ISP and, at minimum, a business-level T1/DSL line with a UPS, the is the expense of the email addys themselves, licensing of email clients for each and every email address, not to mention the email server and all attendant costs.

        Small businesses cannot spend that kind of cash, so a "personal" account is what they use.