Gmail Pop-Out Windows Get Super Fast (Unless You Run IE)

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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?

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