Gmail Compose window update adds profile avatars, right-click menu, and more

In addition to the big Material You redesign, Gmail on the web is rolling out a sizable update to the Compose window that aims to let you send “more efficiently and confidently.”

These updates to the Gmail Compose window were originally scheduled to launch by the end of last year, but were delayed to “improve performance.” They’re now being rolled out with full availability expected by the end of September. We’re already seeing them on Workspace accounts that have the Material You revamp (which has a light/themed “New message” bar) and the previous design (dark gray).

The changes start with the To, Cc, and Bcc fields now showing a recipient’s profile avatar instead of just a name (and non-Gmail domain). Meanwhile, right-clicking on any user chip will show a menu that lets you: 

  • Copy: Name and email
  • Copy [just the address]
  • Cut
  • Change name: Show a different name to recipients of this message
  • Change email address
  • More info 
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Gmail is also getting better at noting when you’re trying to add a recipient that’s already included in the email. 

Also, when hovering over or scrolling through contacts within the dropdown menu, you’ll notice a grey tone to better indicate where your mouse or keyboard is. Additionally, Gmail will automatically remove duplicate entries within the same fields, when dragging and dropping between the To, Cc, and Bcc fields. 

Google is more prominently highlighting recipients that are outside of your domain/company:

  • External contacts that you’ve interacted with before will be highlighted in a deep yellow color. 
  • External contacts that you have not interacted with before will also be highlighted along with an out of organization avatar and warning banner. 
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Similarly, different domain names within the same organization – e.g., “users from will not appear as out of organization if added to an email from an user” — will no longer be marked as “external.” To cut down on errors in general, Gmail will “now validate that email addresses are typed in the correct email format (e.g., and will prevent any strings from becoming recipient chips if they are not formatted correctly.”

Previously, users had to double click to correct an error. Further, if you do maintain an invalidly formatted email address in the address bars, you’ll see an error message prompting you to fix the error before sending. Note: validation is only performed on email address formatting and does not check the validity of the email address itself. 

Lastly, Google says Chrome extensions might be impacted because of “changes [to] the underlying structure of the addressing fields in Gmail Compose.”

Therefore, admins that maintain Chrome extensions that depend on the current Gmail UI, around recipient search, selection or authoring, should check their integrations against the updated UI.

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