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Summary:

Google continues to bring web apps closer to par with third-party software. The latest Gmail enhancement speeds up pop-out windows for mail and chat sessions. Gone is the slow load time for these windows, unless you run Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Is it a standards issue?

google-chat-popout-thumb

I often get funny looks when I tell people that I don’t rely on many applications outside of a browser. But living in a browser empowers me with the freedom to use nearly any machine or operating system. It’s seriously liberating, especially for mobile device users. A common response to my situation is generally centered around how web apps just can’t compete with third-party code. I guess it depends on what you need to do. Email is one of things we all need to “do” — unfortunately — and Google continues to bring Gmail closer in functionality to standalone clients. The latest enhancement is a time saver for those that prefer pop-out windows for message composition, chat and more.

Holding the Shift key while clicking a Gmail action — Compose Mail, Reply, or Forward — now quickly completes the action in separate browser window. And by “quickly” I mean darn near instantly. I’ve tested the function both in my personal Gmail account and in my Google Apps account for work. The old “Loading” message and progress indicator are nowhere to be seen in the new pop-up windows. The feature also works for Chat windows and is supported with Gmail shortcuts. Here’s a short list of supported pop-out mail actions:

  • Shift + C = Compose Mail
  • Shift + R= Reply
  • Shift + F = Forward
  • Shift + A = Reply All

Two caveats apply for the new speedy pop-outs. These standalone views aren’t quite standalone. Closing Gmail in the browser will kill off any Gmail pop-out windows, which is the same behavior as before. Google says they’re working to make this behavior better, but I don’t know if they’ll ever be persistent outside of Google’s own Chrome browser. Speaking of browsers, that’s the other gotcha. The faster pop-out windows are only supported on Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Google explains that they tried to get it working with Internet Explorer, but couldn’t. I won’t speculate as to the issue, but it does make me wonder if Google is taking a standards-based approach for this solution. My gut says yes, but I’m not a developer, so I welcome any thoughts from coders.

Image courtesy of the Official Gmail Blog

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

What Does the Future Hold for Browsers?

  1. i have a question since you primarily use Google services in the browser.

    its certainly not unheardof for Google to lock or even delete accounts on accident (wrongfully suspected abusers). how do you make offline backups of your data? contacts, reader subscriptions & others can simply be exported. but what about email? the only way i know of is by using an IMAP client.

  2. Hmmm… interesting, I think it might have something to do with how they’re using OpenDialogWindow instead of OpenWindow. (Because the child windows close when you close the main ones) It would seem that IE doesn’t cache the page when you use that function. Off the top of my head it USED to that previously when I had to call the function and thus I’d append random QueryStrings to force IE to get a new version of the page.

    Maybe now that’s default behavior when using OpenDialogWindow now with IE?

    Of course, I guess it’s possible the other browsers just use some HTML5 state storage to quickly reload the page state.

  3. OMG, Kevin! Where has this been? Even shift-click on a message pops it out in a separate window so I don’t have to go back and forth between the inbox and a message all the time. Whoo hoo! You just made my Wednesday!

    1. Actually, the pop-outs have been there, but they’ve been very slow. They’re super-fast now and so much more usable as a result! :)

  4. Not the best place to ask this I know, but while we’re talking gMail tips is there a key combination to send a message? I’m so used to ctrl-enter in Outlook and sorely missing it in gMail.

    I tried searching for an answer a few months ago, unsuccessfully, so I figured I’d ask.

    Thanks.

    1. Indeed there is a keyboard shortcut to send a message, but it’s actually a 2-step process.

      Type your email as normal.
      Hit Tab then hit Enter

      Done! :)

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