Gmail: Hold down Shift for a larger compose window

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 11, 2013
Updated • May 4, 2013
Email, Gmail

Gmail's new compose window is highly controversial. Some users like it as they can now access emails at the same time and in the same browser tab to reference them or re-read them while composing an answer. Others do not like it that much for its small nature and position on the screen.

While it is currently possible to switch to the old compose window for the time being, it is fairly certain that this is only a temporary solution that won't be available forever. Eventually, all Gmail users will have to use the new compose window whether they like it or not.

The only option in the interface to change the window itself is to click on the arrow icon in the window's top toolbar. Clicking on that link opens the compose form in a new larger window on the screen.

This window acts independent from the Gmail page it has been launched on. Even better: since it is launched in its own window, you are free to change the size of the window to make it larger or smaller.

gmail large compose form

Having to open the small compose window on the Google Mail page first only to open the larger compose window afterwards is not an optimal solution though, especially if you happen to write heaps of messages per day.

That's where  a tip from the Gmail team comes in handy. Instead of having to go through the small compose window to open the larger window, you can simply hold down the Shift key while clicking on the compose button to launch it right away. This not only works when you click on compose, but also when you want to reply to an email that you have received. Just hold down the Shift key and click on the reply button to open the same larger compose window on the Gmail website.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. FellaDudeMan said on April 14, 2013 at 2:30 am

    Welcome to the new Google Bathroom. For your convenience, we’ve made the toilet 3x smaller and shoved it into a wall. Hold shift to enlarge the toilet to it’s original uncool size.

    To access the flush, click on the top corner of the toilet and drag down to the proper menu option. If you are sitting on the toilet and can’t see the menu properly from your position, then we don’t care. Also, keep in mind that our new toilets will no longer flush properly inside of houses with older plumbing, so please move to a newer neighborhood to access this feature. We don’t know why we made this a requirement for using the toilet, but deal with it.

    If you need to attach toilet paper to your experience, click on the back end of the toilet to access the toiler paper holder. Sometimes the new holder will glitch out and drop the paper you attach, but that should only happen to uncool people.

    According to our focus groups, we think you’ll enjoy these new unnecessary changes to our previously functional experience. If you’re having issues, we have a wall over there for you to bang your head on. Have a great day!

  2. Peter said on April 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I routinely use paragraph formatting in my Gmail messages, and what drives me *nuts* about the new interface — in addition to the small size of the compose pane, which is no longer an issue with the shift-key trick — is that the indent and de-indent buttons, for example, are now two clicks away instead of right there at the top of the pane. I’m holding on to the old interface as long as they make it available.

  3. clas said on April 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

    i too dont like the forced change to something that i like less.
    i have been trying many email deals. all lack something. the latest
    i am using is and i like it a lot. lots of room to write
    and to read. i think its worth a look. i am keeping gmail and slowly
    moving to inbox.

  4. mikiaandy said on April 12, 2013 at 3:59 am

    try Ctrl ;)

  5. Glenn said on April 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    The pop-out feature has been there FOREVER, for the supposed same reason that the “new compose” exists. The pop-out feature, however, is actually useful, as opposed to the new compose. Of course, Thunderbird is better still.

  6. mario said on April 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks! It’s very useful for me because I can change the subject faster when replying.

  7. Dante said on April 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    So google is going the Microsoft route of making complicated key combinations that only techies with no life will memorize. That sure worked well for Microsoft….

    1. Mark said on April 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I think you’ll find that holding “shift” or “ctrl” when clicking on a link to open it in a new page or tab respectively has been fairly standard practice in Windows applications, e.g. IE, for some time now.

  8. alan said on April 11, 2013 at 10:42 am

    For me is slower than pressing compose/reply without the shift key.

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