Gmail’s New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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gmail composeThis has happened to you: you’re reading your email, then you realize you should write someone else about something you just read. You hit “Compose”, only to find that the information you wanted to reference is now off-screen.

You could save the draft and re-search for the email. You could open a new tab, re-open your email and then find it. Or you could remember to copy relevant information before composing the new message.

None of those strategies are necessary, however, because of Gmail’s new compose mode. It’s simple, it’s clean, and it’s a great sign that Google isn’t done improving Gmail yet.

Back in July Google acquired Sparrow, a brilliant email client for Mac and iOS users. Their team joined the Gmail team, and if this is a sign of things to come from that I have to say: everyone wins.

No More Multiple Tabs

Previously, when you hit the “Compose” button, whatever you were looking at was replaced with your new message. The new compose mode, which you can enable now in Gmail, pops up at bottom-right:

gmail compose

Whatever you had open in Gmail before pressing “Compose” remains open – you can browse without closing anything. You can even minimize a conversation you’re composing if you want to get back to it later, or pop it out to another window.

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If you use Gmail’s chat function this is all familiar. What’s not is the email-specific functions: at top you can enter who the message is for; the To, CC and BCC fields pop up when you’re using them and go away when you’re not. So does the “From” field, if you’re one of those people who manages multiple email addresses from within Gmail.

At the bottom you’ll find buttons for formatting and other options.

compose multiple emails gmail

Saving vertical space is an obvious priority here, and you can’t deny: the result looks good. If you’re like me, though, you’re wondering where the features you love disappeared to.

They’re in submenus, as it turns out. An arrow at the bottom-left of the compose window allows you to use canned responses” or switch back to the old compose interface.

compose multiple emails gmail

Formatting isn’t as big a deal in email as it was in the early, wild-west days of the medium. Some people still like it, however, so Gmail offers a mostly-hidden panel of formatting options at bottom-left:

compose multiple emails gmail

Attaching is simple: just drag any file to the compose window from your file browser, or click the paperclip icon. The hyperlink function can be found by hovering over the “Plus”.

Reply Mode

Of course, when you’re replying to a message you probably want to see it in the context of an ongoing conversation. For this reason Gmail doesn’t pop-out replies. They have simplified the reply look, however:

gmail compose

Traces of Sparrow live here, I think: if your response is quick you only ever see the tools you absolutely need. If you want to add more people to the message, however, you can also do that and all of the above advanced options are also offered.

What Do You Think?

You might react – as I did – with utter horror as you realize your favorite third party extensions no longer work. Don’t worry: they’ll come around. They always do.

Beyond that, however, I want to know what you think of this new way of writing emails. Is Google going mad with power, or did they just make email easier? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or randomly comment on the economics of Spanish agriculture. Whatever.

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Comments (22)
  • Marianne Martin

    I am glad to hear about this new addition to gmail. I am going to check it out, review it and then post a comment.

  • lucy

    For me the deal breaker was the inability to switch between accounts/signatures from the new interface (or at least I couldn’t find how to do this).

    • Justin Pot

      I was worred about this too. Just click the “From” button and you can pick.

  • maharawj

    I think most of us are yet to discover that the new compose strips of HTML code that it did not in the old compose.(when you copy paste a mailer for example).
    The old compose window and also many other clients do strip off code like background and positioning of layers to name a few.
    But the New Compose strips off some new code and I just don’t understand why.
    Its 3 am in the morning and I am stoned due to lack of sleep, I am in doubt if it was the list styling that it stripped off(inline styles only inline styles works in mailer btw) or was it something else.
    Yes it has to be the list style because I don’t see what else it could possibly strip as everything else was just text styling and table background color.
    Reverted back to the Old compose window and its working.
    I think it may get stripped again if someone forwards it using the new compose.

  • Rajaa Chowdhury

    I like the clean metro-style interface of outlook.com more now so almost stopped using GMail. Just use the Google Account for Google Play now.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury

      I personally feel that for a change, Microsoft has now set the benchmark of how a modern web-mail interface should look, with the clean minimalism interface of outlook.com for the competitors to follow suit including Google.

  • Terafall

    It’s great for writing short email

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.