How to enable Gmail's Smart Compose feature

Hate writing emails? Us too.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read

When Google revealed Gmail's new look in April, it unveiled some new features too. There's a new offline mode, a new tool for sending self-destructing messages, and Smart Replies.

Going one step further than basic replies, Google announced a new Smart Compose feature at Google I/O last week. The feature was promised to launch in the coming days and weeks, but if you don't feel like waiting for an official release, you can enable it right now.

Watch this: Smart Compose will write your emails for you in Gmail

What is Smart Compose?

Smart Compose uses AI to guess what you're going to type before you type it. It bases some of this on the recipient and email subject, as well as your typical writing habits. So if you compose an email with a subject of "Dinner plans this weekend?" Smart Compose will take that into account as you begin typing and suggest the kind of things people write when arranging a meal.

How to get it

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can get Smart Compose right now by enabling Experimental Access in your Gmail settings page. You have to be using the new Gmail design for Experimental Access to be an option.

Click on the Settings gear then select Settings. Under the General tab, find and enable Experimental Access.

I had to close my browser and sign back into Gmail before Smart Compose would start working. If you don't have access right away, be patient and it will eventually show up.

Type then Tab

Jason Cipriani/CNET

So how do you use Smart Compose? It's pretty easy. Just start typing. As you type, you'll see slightly transparent text to the right of your cursor. If this text matches what you want to say, just hit the Tab key and it will fill it in for you.

If not, keep typing and Smart Compose will continue to make suggestions as you go.

Right now, the feature isn't nearly as impressive as what Google showed off on stage last week, but it's a start. Hopefully it will eventually cut back on the amount of time you spend typing out mundane emails.

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