How to get the old Gmail compose screen back

The compose interface made mandatory by Google in August. Photo: Google After its initial rollout Google introduced a “full-screen” option.
Nanjing Night Net

The old Gmail compose pane.

When Google forced 425 million users onto its new Gmail compose interface there was the usual “First World Problem” outrage that comes with any interface design change online.

Instead of allowing people to use their entire screen to compose emails, Gmail’s new layout shrank the compose interface to a small area at the bottom right of the screen where Google chat messages used to appear. Why? So that users could still see their inbox as they wrote emails.

After the initial outrage, Google introduced a full-screen option that was still different to the original compose interface. Some enjoyed it but many users were still unimpressed.

Numerous online petitions popped up, demanding Google to at least give users the option to revert to the old interface. But their low number of backers is unlikely to sway Google. Two on gained only 131 and 128 supporters respectively, while another on thepetitionsite南京夜网 received 661 backers.

For a short period of time Google allowed users to “temporarily” revert to the old interface, but on August 13 removed this and forced all users to adopt the new one.

Alan Wexelblat, a user interface expert who has researched design at MIT, called the new interface “compost”.

“It is not more clever or more useful to change functionality in a seemingly arbitrary way, destroying all the learning people have put into it,” Dr Wexelblat wrote in a Google+ post.

“Whatever improvement you think you’re making, great. Offer it, let people adopt it if they want.”

He said the change was like someone coming into his house and rearranging his workspace.

Willard Foxton, an investigative journalist at the Telegraph in London opined that unless Google “fixed” its new compose he would move to another email provider.

But it’s not only design experts and journalists venting. When Google announced the forced change in a Google+ post, hundreds of users reacted angrily.

Getting the old compose screen back

Since then, a number of savvy software developers have created free plug-ins for web browsers that allow users to revert to the old compose interface.

They are “Retro Compose for Gmail”, “Classic Gmail Compose” and “Old Compose”. The Retro and Classic plug-ins only work in Google’s Chrome browser, while Old Compose works in both Chrome and Firefox.

They can be installed on the browser and change Gmail in different ways that allow it to function like it did prior to Google’s forced change.

Although not supported or endorsed by Google, the web giant has yet to remove the plug-ins from its Chrome Web Store.

On Monday Fairfax Media asked Google if it had heard users’ concerns, if it would change Gmail back and whether it would remove the plug-ins. It had not responded by midday on Wednesday.

Do you like the new compose or will you revert with a plug-in? Leave a comment.

 This reporter is on Facebook: /bengrubb

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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