When you compose a new message in Gmail on a computer, the bottom of the compose window looks like this:

enter image description here

When you put your mouse over the + button, it looks like this (with the mouse being on the icon with the tooltip)

enter image description here

I'm not understanding the rationale for hiding these five additional buttons until the user hovers over the + button. There is enough real estate that this would not be necessary and it seems to me that there are downsides, notably the lack of immediate visibility making these features less discoverable (not to mention that it's not obvious what the + button is for). Indeed, I would think that they ought to always be visible. I haven't seen this sort of interface before and I'd like to think that Google had a good reason to do this. Could someone please let me know what it is?

  • @3nafish, because they use completely different wording, I never found it before I wrote my question :-) It does indeed look similar, although I find it interesting that the current answers are quite different than the answers over there. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 23:36

2 Answers 2


They explain some of if in the blog entry where they first said they'd be doing it - http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/introducing-new-compose-in-gmail.html

They're opting to make the standard interface simpler at the cost of making other features more cumbersome to access. They're attempting to streamline what they see as being the majority of that tool's usage. They don't mention it in the blog post specifically but I recall seeing something somewhere about them basing their decision on data that showed that very few people used the formatting features.


Proximity alignment:

The other options can be named as sub category of attachment functionality (file from drive, photo, link, emotion and calender). You miss a point it will be visible (Until hovering Attach icon or plus icon. which is one step before pressing it (taking an action), will show other available options. It will make the user rethink other possibilities while not increasing the click path.

In short, Google wants to say;

  • Do you want to attach something to this message? Look, you can also share a file from google drive, photo, link, emotion or an event detail. Keep going if you want but just reminding you...
  • While I understand the desire to hover rather than click, I'm not sure why they're not visible in the first place. And maybe it's just me, but I don't think of "attaching" an emoticon or a hyperlink. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 23:32
  • I think that the hardest one may be emotional. "Emotionally attached" is commonly used term :). It has now two function button - style and attach, if they are going to make it all visible, the style will be less visible... In addition to this, action for style should be click action since, it demands more clicking actions and complex than attaching a file. I hope that it helps...
    – Abektes
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 23:40

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