Smart Compose: How to Turn on Gmail's New Experimental Feature

Google’s recent, splashy Gmail redesign came with a host of new features aimed at making communication and organization simpler, but that was only the beginning: During Tuesday’s Google I/O keynote address, Google CEO Sundar Pichai pulled back the curtain on another game-changing feature: Google artificial intelligence will autocomplete full sentences for you, as if Gmail was reading your mind as you’re typing.

This new feature, known as Smart Compose, is a huge advancement in Google’s Smart Reply technology, which allows users to quickly respond to emails by suggesting a few one-liners. Smart Compose runs in the background as you begin drafting an email and will try to predict what you’re trying to type. You can choose to accept or ignore its recommendations, but based on what was demoed on stage, this feature seems to be shockingly good at finishing your sentences.

A Google blog post explains that this A.I. tool will pretty much take care of all of the formalities that come with writing an email.

For example, if you’re sending off a message to a client on a Friday, it may suggest something like “Have a great weekend!” as a closing sentence. Pichai says that the focus of this feature was to let users hone in on the crux of what they want to say and not get caught up in everything else.


“We used machine learning to start suggesting phrases for you as you type, all you need to do is hit tab and keep autocompleting,” he says. “It takes care of mundane things like addresses so you can focus on what you want to type.”

This feature is rolling out to all users this month. But Google is giving users “experimental access” by allowing them to toggle on the feature in the Inbox setting if they choose.

How to Turn on Experimental Features in Gmail:

You can only turn on access to experimental features from your computer using the new Gmail.
Note: Google does not offer any support for experimental features. Google reserves the right to change these services or even remove them at any time.
To turn on Experimental Access, you’ll need to use your computer.
In the top right corner, click the Settings wheel icon and then Settings. If you haven’t started using the new Gmail yet, click Try the new Gmail.
Under “General,” scroll down to Experimental Access.
Click the box to Enable experimental access.
At the bottom of the page, click Save changes.
You now have access to experimental features.

Once you have turned on Smart Compose, Gmail offers these instructions:

From the Gmail, click SettingsSettings and then Settings.
Under “General”, scroll down to Smart Compose.
To turn on predictions, click to choose Writing suggestions on. To turn off predictions, click to choose Writing suggestions off.
Note: Smart Compose is available in English. Smart Compose is not designed to provide answers and may not always predict factually correct information.

Google also offers this blurb about machine learning, seemingly put there to deflect from any criticism:

As language understanding models use billions of common phrases and sentences to automatically learn about the world, they can also reflect human cognitive biases. Being aware of this is a good start, and the conversation around how to handle it is ongoing. Google is committed to making products that work well for everyone, and are actively researching unintended bias and mitigation strategies.

So don’t be nervous about replying to that email you forgot to reply to weeks ago. Smart Compose will hold your hand through the entire, excruciatingly awkward, thing.ave

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