12 November 2012
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Update to Gmail merges email and chat

One of the core concepts of the Internet is change. It seems that nearly every year shiny new Internet based goodies are released, and the masses are either enthralled or enraged by the differences it brings. Google is a company that while not releasing any major alterations is constantly adapting its services to make these better, or more intuitive. The latest service to receive the Google overhaul is Gmail.

The latest change to Gmail comes in how we compose emails. In previous versions of Gmail, tapping Compose opened up the compose window, thereby making it hard to view your inbox without having another tab open on your browser. The update marries Google Chat with Compose.

A new way to compose

When you press Compose a large chat-style window pops-up from the lower right corner, similar to a Google Chat conversation. When first brought up, you’ll notice New Message at the top left-hand side of the window. The window is comprised of four main fields:

  • Recipients: This is where you enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to send your email to. If they are already in your Address Book, simply typing the first three letters of their name will bring up a drop-down list of possible names that when clicked on will be added to the field. If you want to CC or BCC someone, simply click on the Recipients field and select the relevant copy.
  • Subject: As before, this is where you enter the subject of your email. When you enter the subject and click another field, you’ll notice that New Message has changed into whatever subject you added.
  • Compose Field: Not much has changed here. It’s the big blank box where you compose your email. If you want to add a picture, PDF, or other file, simply drag and drop it into this field. To put the image in a specific spot, say between a paragraph, click where you would like the image to go and drag and drop the image in.
  • Message options: Located along the bottom of the new window, you’ll see Send, A, a paperclip and +. Clicking A will bring up the Formatting Options with the usual choices. Selecting the paper clip will allow you to add an attachment and hovering your mouse over the + will bring up more options, like the ability to add a link, emoticon or invitation. You can delete the message by pressing the trashcan icon. Pressing the down arrow on the bottom right of the message will bring up more options.

The coolest thing about the new Compose is that it doesn’t load a new window when you click Compose. Instead, the message hovers above the main Gmail window, and pressing the minimize button on the top right of the message will show your full inbox. This should really help in the creation of new emails based off of different emails. The only real downside at this point is that a number of functions, like emoticons, calendar invitations and many of the extra options, aren’t available in the new view. Knowing Google, this will likely be fixed over the next month.

Not a fan of the new message system? Press the downward facing grey arrow in the bottom of the message and select Switch back to old compose. This will load a new window with the more familiar Compose window. Or, you can press the pop-out arrow located beside X in the top-right of the screen which will put the message into its own window, which should be a little more familiar. If you don’t see the new layout, press Compose and you should be given an option to try the new layout to the right of the contacts field.
All Gmail users should be on the new message system, if not, you will be soon. If you are using the new system, what do you think of it? Let us know.

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