Everything You Need to Know about Gmail’s New Compose Window

by Koosha Araghi on July 29, 2013

Google launched a brand new compose experience late last year for Gmail and has continued to rapidly upgrade compose features ever since.

Since Gmail’s release in 2004, the compose experience has functionally remained more or less the same with visual updates throughout the years. Like most mail clients on and off the web, composing mail prevented you from simultaneously doing other tasks. Well the clever minds at Google cooked up a way around this, allow you to compose multiple emails at once, even while perusing your inbox! While the old format wasn't a huge burden for most of us, I'm sure power users (and the attention deprived) will no doubt rejoice.

This article is your go-to resource for the new Gmail Compose, filled with tips, tricks, & how-to's---anything you might need to be successful. Jump on in.

How to Enable the New Compose

If you had been using Gmail for Business prior to October of last year or signed up after, chances are you have run into prompts asking to update the compose window or it may be running already by default. For those of you that still see the screen above when you select compose, you will want to click on the Try out the new compose experience link outlined in the image above.

Enable the New Compose

This will refresh your inbox and will show you the following screen:

Refresh your inbox

Composing Options

The new compose window no longer opens a separate page, but a popup window that resembles a slightly larger chat window. This allows you to compose multiple messages at the same time while continuing to do other tasks like reading other emails or updating a contact record, etc. It's not uncommon to take breaks while composing a message, and this allows you pause the writing while keeping it at the front of your mind.

I have a tendency to jump between multiple tasks and prior to the update, would usually have at least 3 tabs open with multiple messages pending. This is inconvenient and kills bandwidth too.

Composing Options in Gmail

For those of you that prefer a larger work area, there are a few ways to handle that as well. At the top of the new compose message, you will see an arrow between the minimize and close button. Selecting this will spread open the message across your browser window.

 Create message in Gmail

If you prefer to have the compose window popup as its own separate window, you can do so by holding shift before you click on the arrow.

Compose window popup


The formatting options are largely the same with some minor adjustments how the buttons are layed out.

In order to access the settings you will need to simply click on the underlined "A" and a menu will slide out.

New message in Gmail

Drive Integration

The biggest upgrade here can be found in the integration with Google Drive. While you still have the ability to directly attach files to your message, doing so with Drive bumps the limit of 25mb per message all the way up to 10 gigs! More importantly, when you select files from your Drive account they will automatically prompt you to select the level of access the end user will have (as opposed to having to modify these settings within drive only).

Drive Integration

Insert files using Google Drive

Another cool Drive feature allows you to upload selected files and folders---and even send out files that have been shared with you---within the drive popup window, you can upload new files. Skipping having to open up Drive separately is a big time saver for those of you that send out documents frequently.

You can also drag and drop files directly onto your message.

File drop onto your message

Since the update, the new style of composing has been a real boon to the multi-taskers out there. The Drive integration is the other key feature that I tend to rely on quite heavily when sharing documents, like say marketing collateral to our sales team. The only real objections I've heard from my colleagues was the sizing of the box itself (especially when adding images and other material) which can be remedied with the full screen option or a pop-out window. If you're still not sold on the new compose window, you do have the ability to switch back to the old version.

Check out the cheat sheet below for a full breakdown of the interface.

New message options New message options

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Koosha Araghi
Director of Marketing at UpCurve Cloud
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