I’ve just released an update that is the first big step for supporting Gmail’s new compose frame: the ability to action & categorise emails as you send them.

You’ll also notice there is now the ability to add a note as you compose the email, which means Notes is now a first class citizen in Gmail.

Usability wise, I’m actually really happy with this new ‘inline’ Action Bar, and may add it to the Reply box in conversations. What do you think?

In sadder news, I’m not sure I can quickly restore the ability to ‘Compose Self’ – it really is very complex in the new Gmail structure.


This was written by Andy Mitchell



  • Rsmith says:

    Very cool! love it! definitely would like it in the Reply box as well. Thank you much!

  • Shawn says:

    Do I need to do anything to “get” this update? When I use the new compose window, I’m still not seeing the Set Status/Notes/etc. functions for ActiveInbox. Thanks for making these adjustments so quickly!

    • Shawn says:

      Nevermind – I figured out that the answer is “yes” based on your earlier tweet:

      A new release is now compatible with new Gmail Compose with a sleek inline look. Download it here: http://www.activeinboxhq.com/install.php

      • Hey Shawn,

        It depends on your browser! Typically, Chrome auto updates addons in about 30 minutes, whereas Firefox can take days. 

        If you’re ever in doubt, do what you did: just go to our Install page.

  • ZKysar says:

    One Error found:  When an attachment is added, the new Action bar cover’s up Google’s attachment view.  

  • Adam Archer says:

    Thanks for getting these features going so quickly, just shows how on the ball you guys are, love it!  Active Inbox has supercharged my gmail and in turn helps me survive the daily email onslaught.

  • Denis Lozko says:

    Is this a known isue: http://i.imgur.com/jamEI.png ?

  • JochenSchuetze says:

    If/when you add this to the Reply environment (which I hope you will do) — please also consider having it in the “popped-out” composer in a separate browser window (not tab!) as well, which I get when I click the top-right arrow next to the “X” in the top-right corner of the new composer.

    However, I understand and agree that sorting out the overlapping with attachments in the “composition” may be more important..

    • Hi Jochen,

      I’ll have a think about the pop out… it’s mostly a technical problem, because they’re separate windows, it’s hard to get one to talk to the other… 

  • Jot Pe says:

    Please add it to the Reply box! Of course it is not so convenient as in the old Gmail frame, but.. anyway great work!

    • Hi Jot,

      2 questions for you!

      1) Why do you want it in the Reply box? Is the normal conversation HAB insufficient? (I’m happy to hear you say it is… I’d just like to understand why!)

      2) And why do you feel the new compose Action Bar isn’t as convenient as the old Gmail frame?

      • JochenSchuetze says:

        For question 1), my I throw in my €_0,02?

        It’s confusing to have the new stuff when composing a new message, but not when replying. In other words, we’ve become used to having it…;-)

        And for an outsider, it looks as if it should be easy to hook the same functions in the Reply composer environment that you use in the “new compose”.

        For yet another view angle: Very simply, why not have it in the Reply when it is in the “new compose”? In both cases, I can go back to the (top of) the (sent) message (‘s conversation) and check / change status & labels. But it is much more convenient to have all relevant elements near the “Send” or “Send & Archive” buttons that I usually use (right below the text entry box)..

      • Very well argued, and much appreciated 🙂

  • Andrew Gross says:

    Don’t yet have the new compose box in my Google Apps environment.

  • Nathan Sudds says:

    Thanks Andy, just stumbled on this while sending an email this morning — used it naturally, and I have not been using these features to add labels on sending prior to today — it just felt right this morning with the new setup!  I think having it on the reply in a similar way sounds great too.

  • Payinguser says:

    The single “Label” dropdown is IMHO too long and not very usable. I have lots of projects and customers, so for me this is not an option.
    Less crucially, “Status” dropdown has a UI, inconsistent with other dropdowns.

    I am reverting to the old compose view. 

    • Payinguser says:

      I would like to propose that you split “Label” into a separate dropdowns (in my case, Projects, Customers and Reference). 

      • Hi payinguser (do you have a more friendly name I can use??),

        So, the number of dropdowns (1 “Labels” vs. “Projects”+”Customers”) is really to do with space. That compose popup changes widths, and can be narrow… and if it wraps our Action Bar onto 2 rows, it becomes supremely unusable. 

        I wonder if it would be better if we added keyboard search to the Labels dropdown, so you can more easily hunt for the labels you need?

      • JochenSchuetze says:

        A big YES for the keyboard search in the Labels dropdown — in all places…:-)
             (In the Horizontal Action Bar, the Project drop-down has it, the Label drop-down doesn’t.)By the way — is the spurious “^i” label anything to seriously worry about?

      • I actually only disabled the keyboard search because it’s Tom’s feature, and there was a bug in it that stopped me releasing it… so I’ll pass that over to Tom to restore!

        As for the ^i, I need to find out why it’s appearing, but it’s not spurious (excellent word!). Geekily off the record, it’s actually Gmail’s internal label for “inbox”. I just don’t understand how it “escaped” into our labels drop down!

  • Ian Gadd says:


    Looks good! However, with long emails–especially if you then need to scroll back and forth, or edit an earlier paragraph–there does seem to be some problems; the floating AIB bar obscures the text of the email and causes quite a lot of flickering when moving up and down.


  • Like the new layout and the idea to use it in the reply

  • Erik Coolen says:

    Thanks for your efforts! I’ve noticed however with a new email that the ‘Action Bar’ disappears as soon as you click the ‘Pop-out’ arrow. Also, any status you have set, disappears when you ‘pop out’, not to return when you click on ‘pop-in’ again. My two cents.. 🙂  Thanks again.

  • Pravesh Dhanjee says:

    I’ve been using Active Inbox for over a year now and I find that the new set status dropdown in the new compose window works so much faster than the AIB when you a reply to an email.  I usually have to wait for a few seconds for the AIB to apply the label which is a little annoying.  Anyway you can employ the set status dropdown when replying to emails as well?

    • JochenSchuetze says:

      Hello Pravesh & Andy,
      I experience the same delay when applying the status labels in the Horizontal Action Bar. I suspect that it’s to do with the time it takes for the AIB extension to communicate with the GMail servers.

      The fact that it’s quicker in the compose window may be due to the fact that the label setting isn’t actually sent to the GMail server and confirmed back at that very moment, but only after you’ve clicked the “Send” button.

      Andy — please feel free to tell I’m wrong, but then I’ll concur with Pravesh’s request to get the same speed into the Horizontal Action Bar — or to explain what that isn’t so easy..:-))

      Best regards,

  • Levi Wallach says:

    I just noticed that when I go into certain messages now and try to assign a date, the calendar shows up, but doesn’t seem to have a high enough z-index (or something to that effect) to overlay on top of all elements, and thus I cannot choose a date.  Has anyone else found this.  One example is an Evite invitation I just got…

  • Kurt Flint says:

    I am a compose to self ADDICT.

    I guess I’ll finally turn on the new compose feature in gmail so I can check out your work though. Mustn’t seem ungrateful 😛

  • Am I right in the assumption (I experienced it..) that now the old layout doesn’t work anymore? Really?

  • RO says:

    I just bought AIB+ using your Cyber Monday deals, and am enjoying it thoroughly. I also updated to, which seems to work quite nicely with the new Compose frame.

    Unfortunately, AIB seems to break the natural workflow in the new Compose frame. To be more specific, when I start composing a new email, AIB takes the focus away from the Recipients box (presumably to add all its UI elements) and never returns it. I now have to click back into it before I start typing a name or email address.

    Initially, I thought this only happened with the “c” keyboard shortcut (which I use almost exclusively). However, I’ve now confirmed that it happens when clicking the button also. And I can also confirm that it happens both in Chrome and Firefox (under Windows).

    AIB’s such a wonderful tool. Please fix this so it doesn’t become a hindrance instead of a help! Thank you!

  • Colin says:

    Please add the action bar to the reply box!! Thank you for all your efforts!!

  • Chris Rile says:

    Great work… but the sad news is indeed just that… I use Compose Self so much, it’s the one thing I loved most about the app.

  • Kurt Flint says:

    I think the new compose box itself is an abomination. If I wanted to scroll around a 1000×500 pixel square while writing e-mail I’d be doing it on my phone! That way I could use that real-estate on my work computer to watch porn or something!.

    Seriously, I’ve tried the new box once or twice, and it sucked. I wish they would just make it float if they want that effect, and not jQuery box style either. Full on child window. Resizable, with the buttons across the top and oh, I’m still wishing we could tweak the window manager on all platforms using css on child windows. wouldn’t it be nice if your main window could generate children, and then become the data source for that window? They could react to each other in interesting ways, but with only one managing the local data store and the conduit to the server.  document.window would be model and controller and one view, and child would just be views, with maybe a light model of its own to keep it from having waits while mama window’s controller gets bogged down in server interactions and stuff. 

    Actually, I played with ideas like that years ago for game designs, but now there are all these nice libraries out there that would make it a piece of cake. I was just using moo and prototype, now I’d probably run the child window on jQuery mobile, or even Angular.js. 

    Sorry about the weird tangent there – I’ll bet you would never guess I don’t get out much lately. Wife left. Been hiding inside for a year, living on WordPress and stuff. I am missing talking to other programmers and working on ideas and problems that cant be solved with a plug-in before lunch (am I the only one who just writes them even though every thing you could ever possibly need is already available, for free?).


  • Cody says:

    Compose Self Please please please please 🙁

  • TScottJr says:

    I think that I use the “Compose Self” feature more than any other feature in Active Inbox. It is now a part of how I manage my Inbox and add tasks to projects.

  • Katnapper says:

    I like the new pop up window… BUT – How do you stop auto-scroll while composing???!!!!!! This is driving me crazy! The window constantly automatically scrolls up as I’m typing to where half the time I cannot see anything above the line I am typing; and worse, the other half of the time it scrolls all the text up beyond the typing window to where you can’t even see what you are currently typing. How can you compose anything if you can’t even see what you’re typing? Arggghhh!!!!

    It’s not just a constant annoyance… it’s making composing emails an exercise in frustration and anger as I’m constantly trying to scroll the text back where I can see it (and at least some of the text I’ve typed above it). But as soon as I resume typing it autoscrolls all the text up and away from sight. Double Arggghhhh!!! This is so idiotic!! I used to love my Gmail, and now I’m so constantly frustrated with this I’m starting to hate it! This now, coupled with taking away iGoogle as my homepage is forcing me to seriously consider changing to Yahoo for everything. I’m about done.