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I like the general idea behind the new compose but I hate how hard it is to get to the formatting controls. I'm somebody who constantly does funny indents, manually links and quotes things.

The new formatting bar that has to be clicked first is painful. I have a ton of screen space.

Does anybody know of a gmail-install or browser-installed extension that would allow a permanent formatting bar at the top of the body - more like the old compose screen?

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You may want to see if there's a GreaseMonkey script. If you're not familiar with GreaseMonkey, it's an extension for Chrome and FF that allows you to install custom JavaScripts to enhance existing sites. –  Adam Plocher Apr 4 '13 at 21:25
    
@AdamPlocher That's what I was thinking when I I said browser-installed extension. –  Oli Apr 4 '13 at 23:13
    
Or it's time to switch to an alternative: alternativeto.net/software/gmail –  endolith Aug 14 '13 at 20:36
    
@endolith Seems a little extreme. –  Oli Aug 14 '13 at 21:30
    
@Oli: I guess, but this isn't the last change they're going to make. By the time you find a solution to fix the new compose window, Google's going to downgrade something else, and then by the time you fix that, there will be no Gmail left; it'll just be Google+ Messaging. –  endolith Aug 14 '13 at 21:33
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3 Answers

What about that Chrome-extension: Retro Compose for Gmail™?

However I would prefer a userscript because I'm usually not using Chrome.

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Could you say a bit more about how the extension works/solves the OP's problem. Thanks. –  batpigandme Sep 18 '13 at 14:11
    
The extension gets rid of the original problem. –  Franck Dernoncourt Oct 18 '13 at 14:48
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In addition to Retro Compose (Chrome) and Old Compose (Chrome+Firefox), there is a third Chrome extension that improves Gmail's new compose by getting rid of it: Fix Compose for Gmail.

enter image description here

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There is a Chrome / Firefox extension that will provide the old Gmail compose UI. See here.

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Despite the one person thinking otherwise, this solution is useful. The OP is (rightfully) complaining about the new compose, and asks about available extensions that alter the UI. A user visiting here, wishing they had their old experience back, and looking for a way (given that Gmail give them now choice) to "improve gmail compose", would be greatly interested to know that they do in fact have the option to revert. Perhaps you are a Google acolyte? Or maybe Jason Cornwell himself? –  Dave Sep 14 '13 at 18:25
    
I agree, showing how to remove the new shitty Gmail compose is useful as the OP might not be aware he can get rid of it. –  Franck Dernoncourt Oct 18 '13 at 14:46
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