Gmail has been updating their Compose button and it has been released today so you should be getting the option to activate it now.

You can find out more at

And this is what it looks like:

What It Means For ActiveInbox

If you enable the new Compose screen:

  • It takes 8 seconds for the Horizontal Action Bar to appear in a conversation
  • You cannot action/add-to-project emails as you send them
  • The ‘Previous Emails’ isn’t shown when you reply

I’ll have the 8 second speed issue dealt with by the time America wakes up tomorrow (Wednesday).

The other bits are going to require a visual redesign, so will take a little longer – perhaps a week.

In the short term, you can keep old style Gmail, which will fix everything. To do this:

  1. Click ‘Compose’ to get the new window open
  2. In the bottom right, click the down arrow
  3. Select ‘Switch back to old com

    We’re looking at how the new compose option works with AIB and what we will need to do to make everything gel and work properly. It’s optional to have it at the moment but it will be rolling out at some point for everyone as a permanent feature.

    You will already see that the HAB isn’t showing on the pop up and another thing we’ve noted already is that when you open an email normally, the HAB is slow to drop in. Andy’s on this and will get it sorted as soon as possible.

    Here’s a screenshot of what the new compose pop up looks like if you haven’t seen it yet and the full article is here from the Official Gmail blog:


    This was written by Andy Mitchell



    • Rupert Madden-Abbott says:

      Please note that the incredibly useful “Compose Self” button also doesn’t work with the new compose screen.

    • Nathan Sudds says:

      I started noticing this last night, and switched back today — just wanted to say that I thought I wasn’t going to like the new Compose feature but quickly found it was an improvement (including the new Reply)

      I have turned it off for now but look forward to AIB supporting this for sure — but if I have to choose between the two for now it’s definitely AIB that wins out!

    • Rogerbeam says:

      Thanks for working on an update so quickly!

    • Mike says:

      I second the thanks for the quick updates.  It’s appreciated since AIB is important to my working.  In my role though, I can’t ignore the new compose, I have to support my user community.  I also like the new interface after using it for a morning, so would LOVE it if the both can work together.

      • Firing this one at Nathan & Mike — what’s the most important missing compose feature that you want bringing back? (E.g. compose self, action bar, previous emails)
        I’ll try and prioritise it!

    • Wes Garrison says:

      @andyrmitchell:disqus For my usage, Action Bar (specifically deadlines) are the highest priority for me to see when I compose a message.

    • Bob Griggs says:

      I label emails and often assign a date just before I send them.

    • Andy, does this mean that later I’ll be forced to change to the new GMail layout?
      What about GoogleApps users? Because when people want to stick to the old layout, will AI4 still accomodate? Will this subsequently blow up the code base and decrease the performance?

      I don’t like it particularly by the way. The popup distracts my focus and I already have a small screen and am left-hander, so the last thing I need is a minified compose window! I feel Google’s design choices are totally random. (Like the stupid “whitespace Google+”) I hope they at least paid some people for user testing…

      • Chris Varley says:

        A fellow left-handed dyslexic agrees! (I’m also an agnostic and insomniac, which means I’m up all night wondering if there really is a Dog…but that’s a different problem.)

    • Ihategmail says:

      There we go again, Gmail trying to fix something that wasn’t broken–like the new UI we are all dealing with and no one likes.  

    • Ron Gerrans says:

      I’m definitely a fan of the new compose box.  My workaround is to check the “View Message” in the “Your message has been sent box” and add the Project, Status, and dates to the message post-sending.  Not ideal but gives me the best of both worlds.

    • Susan Penter says:

      Any news on when it will be safe to try the new compose feature – I have not done so yet as I always label everything I compose before sending it so without my label system there is no point trying it.

    • Jodi says:

      I love you so much for steps 1 through 3 at the end of this article.

    • Rhysdux says:

      I hate the new compose. I need to be able to see previous emails. The new compose not only doesn’t help, it’s actually a hindrance to me and my work. And I need to be able to compose things to myself; it’s often a useful way of saving information that I couldn’t save otherwise. You’re removing all the things I need and leaving me with NOTHING.

    • Swheatart says:

      Please let me use the old system.. Its too small.. have trouble putting my recipients in. It is VERY hard to use. I HATE IT. I go with the saying .. if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. This is nuts. I don’t want to be in the inbox to compose an email.. I like old system.