The paint on Gmail’s last interface redesign has dried, and you’ve probably settled into the changes, few as they were. The last Gmail revamp was more design centric, but it’s time for more changes and starting yesterday, Gmail has begun to roll out a new Compose message view which is quite different from the current one. Gmail users who click the compose a new message or reply/forward will be greeted with the option to try the new layout. The new compose message now sits atop of the rest of the Gmail interface allowing you to switch to a different mailbox or view the email threads and conversations without having to close it. The Compose message window is now more like the chat windows you have in Gmail, it can be minimized, closed, saved or discarded. All formatting options are still available and overall, the way they’ve fit the functionality in such limited space is pretty impressive. The reply/forward dialog box appears at the bottom of the email thread, whereas the compose message window appears in the bottom right corner. Compose emails windows can pop out of your browser like the chat windows.
The address, CC and BCC fields are located at the top and any email signature that you’ve set is added automatically. Attachments are added at the bottom and if you position your mouse over the plus sign, it expands to reveal options for adding images and hyperlinks. Support for Calendar events and emoticons hasn’t been added yet. The text toolbar appears when you click the A button at the bottom.
You can discard a message by clicking the dustbin button, while labels and printing an email options have not been added yet. To switch back to the old version, click the little arrow in the bottom right of the compose message window. The compose window disappears when you click Send. The only problem observed here is if you’ve enabled Undo Send the new interface will not be able to recover your message. You still receive a prompt when Gmail thinks you’ve forgotten to attach a file.
The reply/ forward message is similar in layout allowing you to change the message’s sending orientation from ‘Reply’ to ‘Forward’ via the arrow at the top left. This box, however, disappears if you navigate away from the message thread and is not omnipresent like the Compose message view.
The major advantage of this new compose view is that it is easier to read old emails and copy information from them to the message you’re composing. The disadvantage this view poses is with the increased likelihood of accidents that might occur when you have your chat windows and compose message in the same place. Since the change is a huge one, it is opt in for now and it should probably stay that way even if Google decides to make it a permanent option. If you aren’t prompted to try the new view out when you compose a new message, give it a day or two and it should appear.