Gmail’s New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

compose 300   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables MultitaskingThis 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:

compose top   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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.

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 bottom   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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 options   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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 formatting   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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:

compose reply   Gmails New Compose Cleans Up Clutter, Enables Multitasking

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.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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22 Comments -

0 votes

amberr

they should have left gmail alone its horrible now

0 votes

Kamran Hassan

I think it’s just great that they decided to finally include this feature into the web interface. That’s another excuse for me to stay away from Thunderbird, which is an excellent piece of software, mind. Also, the way the tiny compose popups minimize to accommodate more compose popups is just so intuitive.

0 votes

Anonymous

I deinstalled it after short testing.

1) all drag&dropped images would be embedded and not attached. No chance at the moment (i.e. dropping it on the bottom line)
2) on my 1600x1200px monitor this window is small and sticks to the lower right corner which is totally not comfortable — no floating, no scaling.

yes, it’s clean, i like the design, but those 2 things above are really crucial to be fixed asap!

Hannes

0 votes

larrymcj

I couldn’t agree more with Hannes. I love the new feature but PLEASE, Google, let the message composition window be user-configurable. The more people who request this feature, it might one day actually happen.

0 votes

AriesWarlock

It’s good to see the Gmail team finally doing something after the knockout Microsoft handed with the new Outlook and Office 365.
I didn’t like the new compose window at first but I am warming up to it. I still want to see easier way to add contacts, like if I send an email to someone not in my contact, Gmail should ask me right there if I want to add that person to contact list.

0 votes

Alex Perkins

I really like the new compose, so much more friendly to use.

0 votes

Jhon H. Caicedo

I tried the new compose, but don’t like it, the new window is to small to write a long email and besides i don’t see much use for multitasking or writing several emails at a time. I hope that the previous compose method continue to be available.

0 votes

Douglas Mutay

You’re right in some point, but if you click in the up arrow at the top left it will expend your window and make it more convenient for long email.

0 votes

Earl Sunaz

I liked the old one compose better. Then again, this is something new, so I’d be willing to be that there’ll be more modifications and improvements as long as there’s feedback.

Best,
Earl from http://www.beachcandynow.com

0 votes

Brian Mok

It seems pretty good to me. :)

0 votes

Timothy Liem

I think it’s a great idea for quick compose. but the interface is confusing. I still prefer default one.

0 votes

Usman Mubashir

I kind of liked it cause its far more neat.

0 votes

Samuel Almeida

No doubt – in my opinion of course – that this is a huge improvement in gmail.
I can’t count the number of times I had to open up a few tabs to grab information from other e-mails so I could compose a new one.
I’m not sure how this ‘floating’ compose window behaves on different resolutions, but on my 1280×800, it sits perfectly in the corner, waiting to be used :)
It’s not intrusive, it doesn’t kill the usability, it’s visible… it’s what I was looking for.

0 votes

DB

waiting for this to be deployed to google apps accounts. For those of you that do not like it, dont use it…pretty simple.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’m still using classic mail so I won’t see these new features. The ‘modern’ version takes more time to load than waiting for YouTube buffering in my computer.

0 votes

Terafall

It’s great for writing short email

0 votes

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.

0 votes

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.

0 votes

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.

0 votes

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).

0 votes

Justin Pot

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

0 votes

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.