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Image drag-and-drop in Gmail--nice, but limited

Chrome users can drag images straight into the Gmail message window. It's a fine idea--if you have a gigantic computer screen.

In a feature I'll likely find useless, Google has added the ability to drag images directly into e-mails written in Gmail in the Chrome browswer rather than rely on a dialog box to select them as an attachment.

It's a nice idea and I'm all for it, but here's why it's not for me: screen real estate. For most programs I use, they're set to fill the entire screen, so to drag an image into Chrome, I'd have to resize the browser, position it to one side, position the image elsewhere, and then drag.

Testing it on Mac OS X, I had to laboriously move and hide a bunch of background windows, too. It's far easier to just use the dialog box. If you have a gigantic screen, it might be useful, but it still could take a lot of careful rearrangment.

Images can be dropped right into Gmail's address window for rich-text messages.
Images can be dropped right into Gmail's address window for rich-text messages. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

According to a blog post, the technology is an adaptation of the Gmail drag-to-attatch technology that arrived for Chrome and Firefox 3.6 users in April. That method brings forth a large green drop zone when you drag a file or files onto the Gmail message.

The image drag and drop is slightly different. Instead of aiming for the drop zone, you plop the image directly into Gmail's message composition window. After you're done, tag at the bottom of the image lets you resize or delete the image.

It worked fine for me on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Mac OS X 10.6--in all cases using the newest Chrome 5.0.396.0 developer-preview version of the browser. Make sure you have "rich formatting" enabled, though.

The feature is only for Chrome now, but Google promises other browsers will be included in the future.

Also, be warned: because the image is embedded into a rich-text e-mail, recipients will have to proceed differently if they want to save or otherwise handle the image compared to what they'd do with an attached version.

Drag and drop is one of the fancy new features in the effort to revamp HTML, the Hypertext Markup Language, with HTML5. Another one that's arriving in browsers, the Files interface, is good for selecting multiple files in a dialog box, which for people like me could be more helpful for adding attachments. Gmail currently uses a Flash-based mechanism for the task so people don't have to go through the hassle of multiple single-file selections.