Thursday, October 6, 2011

Using GMail in Multiple Windows

One of my initial significant beefs with GMail was the premise that everything happened within one web browser window on my computer.  When I flipped through messages or lists of messages, every single one of those transactions appeared in a single browser window, a serious departure from Lotus Notes (which puts everything on tabs) or Outlook (which uses separate windows).

Call me petty, but this was always a problem if I had things to cut/copy-and-paste between messages.  I could still copy-and-paste, but only if I drove my single window back and forth between GMail spots, and it reminded me of my non-ability to parallel park--back and forth and back and forth and back and forth until I finally settled into some semblance of order.

Then I figured out how to have GMail run in multiple windows, and I loved it.  I could have two windows open to copy e-mail addresses, phone numbers or text between GMail messages.

There are 2 routes to use GMail in multiple windows:

First, you can click the In New Window icon.  This icon does not announce itself very loudly, so look for it near the top right of your message.  Clicking this icon takes whatever message you are reading and opens it within its own new window.  This icon also appears when composing new messages, so if you are mid-way through composing a message and suddenly realize you want it in its own window, click the In New Window icon and instantly you will have another GMail window with your outbound message, with an underlying window available to you for GMail navigation.

Second (and you already know this if you read previous Encyclopedia of Matt entries), you can use the Shift key with the keyboard shortcuts to open a new window.
  • Shift + C to Compose a new message in a new window.
  • Shift + R to Reply in a new window.
  • Shift + A to Reply To All in a new window.
  • Shift + F to Forward in a new window.

I fear I have made this entire concept more difficult than it really is.  So just try it.  Trust me that you cannot actually break anything.  You will not accidentally erase your entire GMail contents.  And you might just like it.