Gmail rolls out preview of pop-up email composer

1 Nov 2012

If you’ve checked your Gmail over the past few days you may have been invited to try out a new email composer based on a pop-up window that doesn’t interrupt email management and also makes it easier for users to multitask when writing emails.

For some users (like myself), an invite to try the new composer comes when they click ‘Compose’. For others, they can opt to try the new feature in the current composer via a link to ‘Try out the new compose experience’.

Using the new composer brings up a pop-up window similar to the one used for chat, which means users can write an email without navigating away from their inboxes. This opens up a range of multitasking options for Gmail users, who can now continue to browse and manage their email while keeping the composer open – no more jumping out of composer and back to your inbox and so on.

Gmail pop-up composer

Just like chat windows, the composer pop-up window can be minimised and multiple windows can be opened up at once. For power email users, this type of functionality is a godsend and will make managing and composing emails much more efficient.

All the functionality of the previous composer is neatly packed into the new pop-up composer, with icons for text formatting, attachments and to delete drafts, plus a menu of further options.

The new composer also keeps anything unnecessary hidden from view until needed. Clicking on the ‘Recipients’ field, users will then find options for adding CC and BCC recipients and to select which email address they would like the message to originate from. To help select the right contacts – we’ve all made mistakes before – autocomplete suggestions now come with contacts’ assigned profile pictures. Once contacts have been added and users click away from this field, it automatically minimises to leave more room for writing your email.

Gmail pop-up composer

In reply mode, the composer has been neatened up in line with the pop-up composer, with the text from the original message hidden until the user clicks the icon to show the trimmed content. From the ‘Type of response’ menu, selecting ‘Start separate conversation’ enables users to switch from reply mode to the pop-up window.

As you may have guessed, I for one am pleased with these new changes. Previously, I composed emails using the pop-out window option (which is still available with the new composer) to allow me to switch back and forth from composing and reading emails, but I find the new pop-up style much easier and more efficient.

As this feature is being slowly rolled out as a preview, complete functionality is not yet enabled. Adding labels and printing messages, as well as inserting invites and emoticons, will be made available soon.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.