Google modifies compose in Gmail

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 30, 2012
Email, Gmail

Google a few minutes ago announced a change affecting their popular email service Gmail. The change affects how you compose emails when you use the interface on the Google Mail website. Previously, when you wanted to compose an email, the compose interface opened up directly on the page making it difficulty to quickly open another email while composing or running a search to find a particular email that you wanted to reference. Most Gmail users probably opened the service in two tabs or two browser windows if they needed to compose and work with the interface at the same time.

The new Gmail compose opens in a window on the screen, much like chat does, only larger. Since it only takes up part of the browser window, it is possible to use all the underlying controls of the Gmail page. You can take a look at new emails that just came in, run a search or perform any other kind of action that is available while using Gmail.

gmail new compose

You can minimize compose windows at anytime to write multiple messages at once on the same screen. That's not the only change coming to the compose feature. When you add recipients to emails you will now see profile snapshots - when available - in the suggestion list so that you can identify recipients by that and not only by email or user name.

You are probably asking yourself where all the formatting options went. They are still available but not displayed by default. Just click on the A icon to access them in the compose window. Here is a quick rundown of all features of the compose window right now:

  • Recipients: Enter one or multiple recipients. Use CC or BCC links to add recipients to these.
  • Text Formating: Click on the A icon
  • Attachments: Click on the attachment icon
  • Insert Options: Click on the + icon to add photos, links, emoticons and Google Calendar events.
  • Discard: The trash icon discards the draft.
  • More Options: Opens a menu with tools such as spell check, plain text format emails, printing and adding labels.

Emails are automatically saved while you are writing them. The save now button has been removed and is no longer available because of it. Drafts are also automatically saved when you close the compose window.

Changes have also been made when you are replying or forwarding emails:

  • Click into the recipient field to see all recipients when you are replying to an email.
  • Click on the arrow to check and change the type of response between reply, reply all or forward.
  • To change the subject, click on the arrow next to the recipient's name and select start separate conversation
  • To see the previous message in the reply, click on the Show trimmed content icon to display it.

Some features are not yet available:

  • Insert emoticons and event invitations
  • Print drafts from the More menu
  • Add labels to outgoing messages from the More menu
  • Send read receipts (Google Apps users only)
  • Canned responses

The new compose window is currently only available as a preview. This preview is rolled out later today. To switch to the new compose window, you need to click on the new compose window experience link after you have clicked on the compose button on the Gmail website. To go back click Compose to open the new compose window, there the More Menu under the down arrow icon and there on Switch back to old compose.

It is likely that the new Gmail compose window will make it simpler for the bulk of users. Advanced users on the other hand who often use features that were readily available directly on the compose screen may now notice that they have to click more often to use some of the features.


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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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