Jan Leow's Press Blog

Google Gmail New Compose Box and Message Tabs

So Google decided to ditch the old compose box and came out with the new pop out Gmail compose box. Whoever thought up this idea didn’t have the frequent email user in mind. Frankly I found it very clunky to use. Unfortunately there was no way to go back to the old compose style box as Google has completely switched it off.

Gmail new compose box

Initially the new compose box only sits in the bottom right corner and you have to write your message on a cocked-eye basis. After listening to the many user’s complaints, Google now allows you to set the compose box right smack in the middle of your webmail. It helped some but still not good enough.

In life, change is a constant. To remain static is to die. In the world of Internet, each dot com company is constantly evolving to compete with other companies who are also constantly coming up with new apps and ideas. Sometimes the changes are for the good, and in this case the new compose box is definitely not for the good.

I still liked the older compose box. In one click, it become available to you, and if you want to multitask or refer to several other correspondence in order to write a new message, we could pop out the compose box into a new window. Unfortunately the new compose box is not able to do it. It only allows you to minimize into the bottom right corner while you check your other mail message. You could not view your current compose side by side with another message that you plan to refer.

So you have to open up another Gmail tab in your browser to do just that

Fortunately they are still keeping the pop out “in a new window” for existing message that you are reading. I wonder how long they will keep this feature before bugging it out?

Anyway, to keep a bit of your sanity, Google did come out with compromise solution. You could set the new default compose box into “full screen” mode. Though I wouldn’t really say it was full screen, just a bigger compose box smack right in the middle of your browser window while greying out the rest of the webmail. Still better than nothing I suppose.

Oh, you could still do multiple compose, to do that, just minimize the current compose box and the gmail webmail interface could be access again. Click compose and another compose box would appear. Still, I would prefer the older style compose box anytime!

The Gmail Message Tab

The tab browsing was good idea for browser windows. But mini tab browsing for Gmail? I think that was a bit of an overkill. I gave it a spin and felt it wasn’t as useful as I would have liked. I kept forgetting there were other messages in the other tabs.

Gmail message tabs

The idea from Google was to help automatically categorise your messages so you can view them separately and to keep the important messages in your primary tab. However it did have some ominous issues for email marketers in that promotional emails would automatically be sorted and dump into the promotions tab. Perhaps the tabs has it use to keep out marketing mail material.
However if like me, I so used to have the unread messages listed out in one page by date, and now having unread messages hidden away on some other tabs means I’m not able to sort through all my messages at one go.

Fortunately you could turn off the multiple tab. Simple just click on the [+] sign next to the right most tab and uncheck those tabs you don’t want to use. By unchecking all, you would get back your normal old style messages listed according to date rather than by category.

Switching off conversational style view message

As an additional note, for those of you who don’t like the conversation view where old messages are bunched together with the new based on the subject title, you could switch it off. Personally I like conversation view as I could view the history of what has been discussed. Sometime the older section of the correspondence could have been removed when replying so it came in handy.

My colleague on the other hand still preferred the Outlook Express or Microsoft Office Outlook message view and found it disconcerting to use conversation view.

To switch if off, simple goto:

1) Settings
2) General tab
3) Scrool down till you see “Conversation View”
4) Select “Conversation View Off”

Save your settings and voila, back to the old school way of reading your mails!


[Update 6/Dec/2013]

New Compose Box Can Pop Out On a New Window

Finally common sense prevailed. I guess a lot people still like composing Gmail in a new window. I think there are not much help info, or if there is, it wasn’t highlighted. I just happened to discover it and thought I would share it out.

When you want to make new Gmail composition, just clicking on the compose would get an overlay type compose box in the current window or browser tab. Here’s something interesting when pressing the “shift” key or “control” key while clicking the compose button:

1) Control or CTRL key + compose button – this will open the compose box on a new tab in your current browser. Still a tad troublesome if you want to refer to other email correspondence by switching tab to and fro.

2) Shift key + compose button – this will open the compose box in a completely new window, and that’s what I want!

Here’s another note, if your Gmail compose box is in the current grey out overlay mode, look for the double arrow on the top right corner of the compose box, press the shift key and click on it. The box will pop out completely into a new window. If you want to go back to the grey overlay mode, find the little slanting arrow on the top right corner and click on it and you are back to the clunky sticky overlay mode.

Ok, enough info for now. Back to work to complete my email!


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