Switch to Gmail's old compose window

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 1, 2013
Updated • Sep 21, 2013
Gmail, Google

Google is constantly working, tweaking and rearranging its products. Sometimes, the changes are small and go by undetected while at other times, they impact how the majority of users work in a major way. The company has been testing a new compose window on Gmail for some time now. First, it offered the new compose as an optional feature that users could switch to if they wanted to give it a try.

Some days ago, Google started to enable the new compose window for all users of Gmail and while some certainly liked how it hovered in the lower right corner of the screen, others may not like that change that much after all.

You may remember that the old Gmail compose window opens up on its own page giving you ample space to write your messages. The new compose window opens up in a smaller screen at the lower right, and while you can click on the arrow sign to open it in a new browser window instead, it adds another step to it and opens a second window on the screen.

What many users do not know is that you can go back to the old compose window on Gmail, at least for now. To do so click on the compose button on the Google Mail website. This opens the new message window on the screen. See the small down arrow icon at the bottom right of that window? Click on it and select Temporarily switch back to old compose.

gmail old compose window

This opens a small popup window on the screen. Select Temporarily switch back and you should be able to use the old compose on Gmail again, at least for some time.

gmail new compose

Google notes on the screen that it will remove the old compose eventually and there is not really anything you can do about it. For now though, you can use the old way of writing emails.

I would not get my hopes up to high but maybe there is a chance for Google to reconsider the permanent removal of the compose option if enough users switch back.

Update: Google has removed all options to switch to the old compose window on Gmail. It has effectively removed the old editor from the service so that you are stuck with the new one, regardless of whether you like it or not.

Update 2: If you are using the Google Chrome web browser, you can now install the Fix Gmail Compose extension as it restores the old compose interface on the site. Firefox users can use Restore your Gmail settings instead.


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  1. Pierre said on September 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    No, sorry, this possibility currently no longer exists

  2. rawan said on August 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    im need to back use the old window compose it’s more easy

    1. Barkat said on September 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

      I want switch to old style but not showing “switch back to the old compose” option.
      if anybdy know how we do please let me know.

      Thank you

  3. rawan said on August 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    there’s no option in my new compose Email (switch to old compose ) ???? & i would like back to use window of old compose it’s more easy.

    Thank you,

  4. farshad javan foruzandeh said on August 17, 2013 at 3:58 am

    why??? so what i do now :(((

  5. farshad said on August 17, 2013 at 3:51 am

    hi friends
    i lose the “Temporarily Switch back to old compose” in more option. i cant see that word in there. so how i come back to my old compose? this new idea is not good and annoy me i cant work with that. plz help me its necessary to switch back my compose to old

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 17, 2013 at 3:55 am

      Google has removed it, and there is no option to get it back anymore, unfortunately.

      1. Gregg DesElms said on August 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

        That is always the case with changes Google makes, and for which it only temporarily offers the ability to reject said changes. There’s no point… which has kinda’ been my point, here, of late. One might as well just buy-in from the outset so that when the ability to avoid the change is finally taken away, as it always is, it won’t come as such a shock.

        I refer farshad to my earlier comment, here, above…


        …in which I list the ways in which Google has accommodated its critics; and how such accommodation can actually make GMAIL semi-usable, again.

        Gregg L. DesElms
        Napa, California USA
        gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  6. Cario said on August 15, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Where to find “Include original attachment” in gmail?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 15, 2013 at 6:13 am

      You need to click on the down arrow on the right side of the reply form and select “include original attachments” from there.

      1. Jeff said on August 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

        Got it- thanks

      2. Jeff said on August 21, 2013 at 11:49 am

        I can’t find the include original attachments key even after reading your comment. Can you be more specific? Thanks

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on August 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm
  7. Mohd said on August 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

    sir, new message (compose mail)
    never option
    Temporanily Switch back to old compose
    please help me..,

  8. Sukhen K Mitra said on August 14, 2013 at 2:17 am

    This time, Google created a real big mess. The old new compose was much better. Is there any extension that sets back old compose?

  9. Jomama said on August 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, you dumbasses really screwed the pooch with this one. Personally, I hope Ellison wins his lawsuit and you dumbfucks are all out of a job.


    1. Gregg DesElms said on August 14, 2013 at 4:14 am


      What are you… new? You really think that’s an appropriate and mature posting? You couldn’t figure out a way to convey your message without so glaringly and embarrassingly (for you) betraying your youthful indiscretion and immaturity?

      [sigh] Wow. [shakes head in disbelief]

      Gregg L. DesElms
      Napa, California USA
      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  10. Marius said on August 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    How do I switch back? I simply hate the new window and I would rather not give up completly on the google web interface because of it.

    1. Gregg DesElms said on August 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      No one was more vocal about it than was I; and, don’t get me wrong, I still hate it. However, if pushing 40 years as an IT pro has taught me anything, it’s that once you’ve done all you can to convince whomever’s doing the changing to either change it back, or to modify the change to something better, it’s best to simply adjust…

      …’cause, trust me, when it comes to the digital world, change just keeps comin’, like it or not. Either bend to the wind of it, like or willow, or snap like a rigid twig.

      As it’s turned-out, my adjustment to it all hasn’t been as bad as I had initially feared. Again, I still hate it, but I’ve figured-out how to make it work; and Google has made a change or two to help. For starters, clicking on an email address should open a whole new tab email composition window, so no one can complain, anymore, about the little compose thing in the lower-right corner getting in the way..

      …and, if you click on the “Compose” button and the little compose thing in the lower-right corner does pop-open, just Ctrl-Click on the little right-slanted up/down line-with-arrows to the immediate left of the “X” in the upper-rightmost corner of it, and a whole new compose tab will open…

      …or, far better (seriously, this is the best), Shift-Click on that little right-slanted up/down line-with-arros to the immediate left of the “X” in the upper-rightmost corner of it and the best composition window of all — a bona fide pop-up actual window, sized just perfectly, but which can be resized to whatever you want — pops-open! That’s my hands-down favorite.

      Yes, it’s an extra click — actually, more accurately, an extra Shift-Click — but the payoff is just so huge that I, for one, have not minded… or maybe I’ve finally just gotten used to it. I dunno. All I know is that I love at least that part of it.

      That said — ohgod, you’re gonna’ love this — it gets better! One may eliminate the extra Shift-Click (or Cntrl-Click, if that’s what you prefer) by simply… no, really, you should be sitting down for this… by simply Shift-Clicking on the “Compose” button. If you do that, then popping-open the little compose window in the lower right first isn’t even necessary. By just Shift-Clicking on the “Compose” button, the cool and completely resizable compose pop-up window pops right up, without first passing through the composition window in the lower right corner!

      Same for if you just Ctrl-Click on the “Compose” button… if you do that, it just goes straight to opening a complete composition tab, in all its full-browser-width glory!

      Yes, it means having to use your other (usually left, for right-handers) hand to hold down either the [Shift] or [Ctrl] key while clicking, but so what? Is so doing really THAT much more work?! I think not.

      So, then, bottom line, the irritation of the pop-open-in-the-lower-right composition window is kinda’ moot, now. Google, gratefully, has listened to those of us who so loudly complained and has given us ways to get what we want, even if Google’s been kinda’ mum about it.

      As for the rest of it, yes, all the controls down at the bottom, and hidden the way they are ’til you click on the underlined-and-italicized capital “A”; and then the panel on which are the access buttons to said controls covering the lower-leftmoist corner of the composition window; and how they work being a little odd, and requiring unnecessary extra clicks…

      …yes, all of that is irritating, but it, too, can be gotten used to. Just give it time. Plus, I noticed, recently, that Google has defaulted that little lower-left-corner command panel to being open when the either Shift-Click-on-the-Compose-button, or Ctrl-Click-on-the-Compose-button is executed, so save us having to click on the little italicized and underlined capital “A” to open it. So that helps a little.

      Of course, yes, the PROPER way to fix it is to put all those controls across the top, outside of the composition body copy area, like it used to be. But I’m thinking that’s never going to happen…

      …so you have to just ask yourself, then, if dumping what is the hands-down best free web-based email system on the planet, simply because they’ve moved what used to be admittedly more conveniently at the top, and out of the way, down to the bottom and in the way. Remember that GMAIL’s Postini spam filtering, alone, is worth the price of admission. If you don’t know what that’s all about, then that, right there, is probably why you’re so casually threatening to leave. Believe me, for the spam filtering, alone, leaving would be a huge mistake. There’s nothing on the planet like Postini spam filtering… especially after you’ve gone into your GMAIL spam folder a few times and have trained it which stuff shouldn’t be there. Wow! It’s best-of-breed…

      …and worth, in my opinion, sticking with GMAIL if at all possible. Just my opinion, of course.

      Not only that, c’mon, if you’re using an Android phone, then avoiding using GMAIL is just shooting yourself in the foot. It’s all so tightly integrated, that all you end-up doing is making work for yourself not just buying-in. Yes, let the Borg assimilate you. It makes life a gabazillion times easier! In fact, if one really and truly FULLY immerses oneself into the Android world, then one is kinda’ almost forced to make Chrome one’s default browser in Windows because of the cool ways that it can interact with the phone, from phone-to-Chrome and Chrome-to-phone, to cloud printing, to… well… the list goes on.

      I’m not a Google apologist, trust me. It’s just that I’ve tried end-running it all, and while I can do it, of course… oy… too much work… life’s just too short.

      So, Marius (and Harj, up there, too, since some of what Harj talked about I addressed herein, as well), do what you want; but when you factor-in how Google has now accommodated we most vocal complainers with reasonable workarounds for pretty much everything we complained about except the little intrusive lower-left-corner controls…

      …it ain’t so bad, after all. Just takes a little adjusting. And if you’ve not mastered THAT by now, with all the changes that the digital world throws at us all the time, then you’re going to be very unhappy in life, indeed.

      Don’t get me wrong, I feel yer pain… but I’m just sayin’.

      Hope that helps.

      Gregg L. DesElms
      Napa, California USA
      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

      1. Marius said on August 14, 2013 at 5:19 am

        Dear Greg,

        Thanks a lot for the creative suggestions but it just feels like I have to do a whole lot of work to cover up for their badly implemented features instead of just hitting compose, writing my simple email and hitting send.

        The most disappointing part about this whole experience is that I’ve been with them from the start and they don’t even allow you the option to stay with the old format even just as a theme that masks the whole thing.

        Over the next week or so I’ll give it a try with the import option from a few other email providers to see if it won’t be easier to just reply from yahoo, gmail or just my home outlook/thunderbird.


  11. Harj said on May 15, 2013 at 7:06 am

    I feel cramped in the little corner window, mentally unable to plan out the words I wish to communicate. Maybe all conversations in the world now consist of bite-sized messaged tossed carelessly around, but I do tend to express myself in fuller paragraphs!

    I’m also unnerved by the ‘efficient’ input textboxes collapsing away their labels – after entering To: and BCC: addresses, they all collapse into a single list. What! How to be sure at a glance that everything is in order? And the line at the top – is it the Subject: I entered or is it something else?

    Pretty ridiculous. Great for those who like post-it exchanges, but please don’t get rid of the sensible way of doing things!


  12. Robert P said on May 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve just been trying to find out how to drag and drop attachments. It’s impossible with the new compose pane. The only way to attach multiple files is to click on the paperclip for each one and then drill down through the directories to find the one you want to attach. Extremely time-consuming.

    1. Gregg DesElms said on May 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      ROBERT P WROTE: I’ve just been trying to find out how to drag and drop attachments. It’s impossible with the new compose pane. The only way to attach multiple files is to click on the paperclip for each one and then drill down through the directories to find the one you want to attach. Extremely time-consuming.

      MY RESPONSE: The entire interface is too heavily scripted; and what you describe sounds like the kind of thing that happens if either a part of the scripting is being blocked, or maybe the scripting has become “tired” in a too-long-opened browser session. It’s also possible, of course, that it’s a too-old browser version; or that, in the end, something in a plug-in/extension is messing with you.

      All that said, I’ve only gotten dragging a file attachment to work once. In my case, though, I never use the feature, anyway. Windows users who were never Mac users before being a Windows user tend not to drag too much stuff around. Some do, of course… obviously you do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s a decidedly imprecise Mac way of both thinking and doing things that’s just an incident of dropping a file somewhere where it doesn’t belong waiting to happen. There are also some files that Windows won’t let you drag… at least while actually moving them. Instead, dragging of at least some kinds of Windows files results in nothing more that creating a copy in the destination folder, leaving the original still where the user at least THOUGHT s/he dragged it from. Once you get nailed by that a few times, you give-up on dragging very much. But at least in the Windows interface, one can drag multiple files, in any case. Just [Shift-Left-Single-Click] all the files you want to drag (to highlight ’em), and then [Left-Single-Click] on any one of ’em and drag ’em all! I still rarely do it, but I’m just sayin’ it can be done.

      Gregg L. DesElms
      Napa, California USA
      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

      1. Robert P said on May 13, 2013 at 4:47 am

        The reason I was dragging and dropping was that I had already tried using the paperclip, but it wouldn’t let me choose multiple files. As far as the actual dragging goes, Windows seems to think that the dragging is working OK because I get a little picture of a file with the number of files being dragged under the mouse pointer, but when I drop, nada.

  13. rob said on May 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    i don’t like the new window at all.

  14. Gregg DesElms said on April 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Please see my article about it on the NBC-owned Newsvine site:

    GMAIL’s new compose window is upsetting users; here’s a more reasonable and useful response

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  15. Chris said on April 8, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Yet another reason to move more and more over to Outlook.com…

  16. Sergey said on April 8, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Yeah, totally!
    1. The window location and size is ridiculous.
    2. The look and feel of “reply” still didn’t change – there’s no “pop-up” thing there – so now the reply/forward and new mail feels totally different – when in fact it shouldn’t – i’m still writing the damn e-mail message!
    3. Now to do a quick formatting of text we need to do ONE CLICK MORE!!! Is this what you call UI simplification/streamlining and other shiny terms?

  17. Sharpie said on April 6, 2013 at 11:55 am


    I’m a designer and I make my living, admittedly, by re-inventing things continually……but I STILL know which things to leave well enough alone —– things that are already optimized/working well. I think we all as professionals know (OR SHOULD) not to “take a step backwards with things” just for the sake of change or entertainment.

    For the wordy among us —- this tiny *compose* window is a sack of s**t.

    Or better yet —– wise up and realize when you’ve stripped functionality for the sake of style and novelty.

    What happened to “do no evil”?

  18. chris said on April 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I will never understand how these people continually take something and FIX IT when its not broken. Who comes up with the idea of ‘oh hey, lets make a tiny pop-up window pop up on the lower right of the screen that people will have to take the time to resize and reposition just to get back to how things were before we MANGLED IT FOR NO GOOD REASON wooo!’

    honestly what in the fucking fuck google. what could possibly have been the purpose of this. CHANGE IT BACK. there is just no reason coming anywhere close to any speck of logic behind this alteration. Its just a headache for everyone.

  19. KRS said on April 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

    When I compose an email that’s longer than a few lines, I do it in Word and paste the text into message area. This gives me the features I need — autotext, auto-correct, moving paragraphs up and down with Shift-Alt-Up or Down, etc. — plus the ability to see a full screen of text.

    First, turn off Word’s text “enhancements” like curly quotes.

    1. Genevieve Marcus said on February 8, 2015 at 2:54 am

      You’re lucky. I have found no way to copy or screenshoot any information and
      post it in an email. The transfer just doesn’t work anymore. Also, I often have
      to wait for letters I type to actually appear. When I type a lot, the screen sometimes

      I will try to find Thunderbird.

  20. DanTe said on April 2, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I don’t bother with looking to set things back to usable on Google anymore. It looks like they have hired a bunch of autists, sorry, artists, who likes to make autistic.. artistic changes to everything. I gave up and use Yahoo now. I just use gmail to filter out spam.

  21. city_zen said on April 2, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Now, this is just one of the reasons why I’m still clinging to my trusted desktop e-mail client (Thunderbird), which they’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands :D

  22. Peterson said on April 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    “Google notes on the screen that it will remove the old compose eventually and there is not really anything you can do about it.”

    On the contrary, there IS something I can do about it: tell Google to eff themselves and switch to another mail client. I don’t appreciate having my business disrupted by compulsory changes that reduce my efficiency and being told that I HAVE to like it.

    I’m currently looking at Outlook.com and Inbox.com. All I need is a basic and efficient means to write emails to clients and the company that can provide that to me will get my business.

  23. kiiutu said on April 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t mind the window itself, but i have issues about it’s default size and placement, it almost feels like writing a post-it note.

    I’d prefer an option of having the window centered and larger by default.

  24. *.* said on April 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Is it just me or is everything becoming more white and less informative and functional? Isn’t it easier with an email client? Iv been using M2 in Opera for years and none of this changes gets in the way an i must say Opera handles my 400.000-500.000 mails and RSS (arround 4GB) without problems.

  25. Sukhen K Mitra said on April 1, 2013 at 9:38 am

    The old or new compose have the same problems – the main 2 issues are yet to be resolved in an easy way –
    1) For sending a email to a group of people (the way Yahoo handle is more elegant)
    2) If I want to forward a few selected emails to one or many (say a group) in one go, I can not do that with Gmail. This was provided by another free email service providers but I forgot its name/domain).

    I’d greatly appreciate if anybody kindly shares the name of any provider of the second type if available.

    Thanks in advance

  26. Uhtred said on April 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

    A real downer for me about the new compose is the subject title text area…. my system colours are dark background, offwhite text, maybe not everyone’s choice, but unless you highlight what you have written in the new title text area compose, you can’t see it!!!!
    Same problem is on their login gates with a white background, fortunately my offwhite text is just about visible.

    I’ve given feedback to them on this issue before but with no joy. It can’t be too hard to code text areas properly can it?

    1. ORNATE said on August 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

      New compose mail Not comfortable

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