Gmail's Context Menu Is Getting More Powerful

Source: Google

Managing email is like cleaning up after the world's most rambunctious toddler. Technically it's possible, sure, but odds are that something new will demand your attention as soon as you've caught up. Google is hoping to make this nigh-impossible task (managing email, not cleaning up after a toddler) seem a little bit more doable with a new context menu in Gmail.

People tend to take the mighty right-click for granted. But many developers offer quick access to common tasks, like renaming a file or opening a link in a new tab, behind that humble button. It can be hard to strike the right balance, though. Having too many options can make it hard for someone to find what they're looking for. Having too few, on the other hand, is a wasted opportunity.

Gmail currently belongs to the latter camp. Right-clicking an email offers very few options: "Move to tab," "Archive," "Mark as read," "Mark as unread" and "Delete." There are some notable omissions there, the foremost of which being the inability to quickly reply to a message via the context menu. The lack of a "Snooze" option is strange, too, since that action's included among the buttons shown whenever someone hovers over an email.

Google is planning to change that with a new context menu that includes many more actions. You can see the full list in the image above, but we'll share it here for posterity:

  • Reply
  • Reply all
  • Forward
  • Archive
  • Delete
  • Mark as unread
  • Snooze
  • Move to
  • Label as
  • Mute
  • Find emails from (Sender)
  • Open in new window

People who don't use Gmail's conversation view can also find all emails with the same subject line by using the context menu.

That should cover pretty much everything most people want to do with an email without actually having to open it. The menu isn't exactly the same as the one shown in the message view--it's missing things like "Add to Tasks" and "Filter messages like these"--so we doubt Google simply copied the actions from that menu for this new one. It seems like the company thought about (and likely A/B tested) exactly what a right-click should do.

Besides, as long as they don't mar an otherwise good experience, having more options isn't usually a bad thing. Want to control everything via keyboard shortcuts? Gmail can do that. Prefer to point and click your way through the never-ending barrage of emails? This update will make that easier, too. 

Google said this feature will start rolling out to G Suite users with Rapid Release domains on February 11 and Scheduled Release domains on February 22. The rollout will vary: the company said this feature will appear over the course of 15 days for Rapid Release domains and three days for their Scheduled Release counterparts. People who use the personal version of Gmail should be able to use the context menu sooner than later.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.