Don’t panic! The ragtime jazz virus hasn’t infected Gmail

Gmail users who run Google Chrome are up in arms today following the launch of the new Gmail priority inbox service.

Not because the feature doesn’t work for internet users who’ve chosen the Chrome browser to access their email, but because Google appears to have promoted the service in a cack-handed way which has scared some of their customers into believing they have a virus.

Gmail accessed via Google Chrome

Plenty of Gmail/Chrome users have posted their concern about the 1920s-style ragtime jazz music which began to automatically play when they opened their email accounts this morning:

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  • Those sound effects are quite unnerving when you first hear it. I really thought it was some sort of twisted virus. Wish they'd sort it though :(
  • I thought it was a virus, too. Turns out, it was just Google scaring me in to using a new feature. Way to steal a page out of George W's book, folks.
  • FOR GOD'S SAKE TURN THIS STUPIDITY OFF! What on earth are you people thinking? How much damn time do you need to get rid of that link? This is worse than a talking paper clip.
  • There is a random big band, swing dance kind of song playing when i open Gmail. I have no idea how it started or what is causing it...This is freaking me out.

The music, however, wasn’t connected with a piece of malware. Instead it’s the music from a video Google created to promote the new Priority Inbox feature in Gmail. Presumably it’s playing invisibly for some users because of an incompatibility with the Chrome browser – which is kinda embarrassing considering Google are the creators of both Gmail and Chrome.

Google says it’s working on the issue – but if you’re suffering right now from an overdose of ragtime music, you might want to access your Gmail using a different browser.

And if you feel that you’ve missed out by not hearing the music, here’s the video from Google:


A similar phoney virus scare sparked off earlier this year when the cool-cats at Google changed their famous logo to a playable version of the legendary Pacman game.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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