Google changes way emails are composed in Gmail

Google changes way emails are composed in Gmail

Summary: The new mechanism - currently available as a preview to some Gmail users - makes it easier to check previously sent or received messages while composing a new email. It also adds various other features, with more promised soon.


Google is changing the way emails are composed in Gmail, making it possible to write a missive while referring to older messages.

Before the changes were introduced for some users on Tuesday, anyone writing an email who wanted to check something in a previously sent or received message, would have to save a draft, then go check that older email, then return to the draft.

The new Gmail email-composing mechanism

In the new mechanism, emails being composed pop up in separate windows, similar to chat windows. This makes it possible to navigate around the rest of the Gmail app without losing sight of the new message.

"Saving a draft, opening the old email, and then reopening your draft wastes valuable minutes," Google product manager Phil Sharp wrote in a blog post, adding that the new, chat-like compose format also makes it easier for users formulating multiple drafts at once.

The new mechanism also makes it possible to quickly add inline images to emails, and adds other minor features such as profile pictures in contact auto-suggest.

Right now, the features are available to limited users as a preview. According to Sharp, other features will be added over the coming months, after which Google will "enable it for everyone".

Topics: Google, Enterprise Software

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Finally able to do what rich mail clients could 15 years ago

    Welcome to the world Outlook Express, Foxmail and so on. You guys are only 15 years behind. Very impressive indeed.

    Way to show off the great UX that HTML/JS is so capable of providing. NOT!
  • What they should be upgrading is their corporate culture

    It has likely tanked so much that it would take superhuman effort to fish it from the figurative toilet. That actually brings an old SuperNews! episode to mind; however, no puns were intended. All concerned citizens and upstanding public servants should see the content at the below url:

    Those who view that content and follow the directions--and are not yet jaded beyond the point of no return--will likely be appalled and p.o.'d to the nth degree.
  • LBiege is Spot On

    I've been doing this for years in other clients. Why is this news?
  • Not sure what this is about

    I have no idea why Google is touting this as some massively new capability, or why they're making it seem like it was so hard before (save a draft, go to old email, re-open draft). That's completely false. First, Google Mail saves drafts automatically. Second, there's a little pop-out icon in the draft window. Click it and it pops out (just like this new feature). So you can look at old email while editing the new.

    I think the new behavior will actually be annoying; in the past, you had the choice to pop out to another window. Now, it will be forced on you? Ah well. Progress.
  • God such trolls...

    "I have no idea why Google is touting this as some massive new capability"

    Hey moron, that's cause they're not. They released a feature and said;
    "It's there now if you want it."

    Personally I don't. So I went to settings and hit the big "MAKE IT GO BACK" button and now I'm happy again.

    Troll in a queen's clothing.
  • This is nice, but seriously.

    If you needed to check your old email, you open another browser window and log into your email account from there.
  • You can do this already, just open the compose message in a window.

    You can do this already, just open the compose message in a window.
  • better user experience

    It has had that ability to open a separate window for composing email for years now. But what they have done now has given its users a better user experience. The same as they are providing better security by implementing other new features, one of which is the most important, Two-Step Authentication which allows us to telesign into our accounts. I know some will claim this make things more complicated, but the slight inconvenience each time you log in is worth the confidence of knowing your info is secure.
  • Realized there is no way to change FROM field

    I use gmail for several email accounts and while trying this new interface, I realized there is no way to select another FROM address than default.

    Did anyone found a way how to do this?
    Tomas M.
    • Found the answer here

      "Google tried to streamline the "compose" window, so many advanced features will be more difficult to find. You'll have to click different icons to find text formatting options, add events or spell check your text. To send mail from another address, you'll have to "click into the 'To' field, then click the 'From' link to select which address you'd like to send mail from". Gmail is suddenly more difficult to use, but the interface looks better."
      Tomas M.