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Gmail’s Smart Compose feature uses AI to auto-complete e-mails, here’s how to use it

Google is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to help you write e-mails faster.

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Google recently gave Gmail the much-needed revamp in years, and also introduced a bunch of new features in tow. Besides the new look, Google introduced ‘Snooze e-mail’ feature to notify you about it at a later date, ‘Smart Reply’ feature to suggest three quick options to reply with, and more. Google also recently rolled out a new Confidential Mode that allows you to send self-destructive e-mails that will be automatically deleted in the said time.

At the I/O 2018 developer conference, Google introduced Smart Compose feature that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to offer auto-complete suggestions to help you write e-mails faster. To put in simple words, Smart Compose is more like Smart Reply on steroids. It uses the power of machine learning to suggest entire sentence as you start typing.

The feature is now rolling out to users who have enabled the new Gmail. However, the Smart Compose feature doesn’t show up automatically, and you have to manually enable it. So let’s go ahead and take a look at how to enable and use it.

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How to enable Gmail’s Smart Compose feature

Step One

As mentioned above, you need to enable the new Gmail first. In case you haven’t done it yet, open Gmail, click on the gear icon on the top right and then click on “Try the new Gmail”. The page will reload and the new redesigned Gmail will be enabled.

Step Two

Once the new Gmail is enabled, click on the Gear Icon again, and then click on Settings. Next, scroll down a bit and check the box that says Experimental Access. Now, scroll down and click on Save Changes. Gmail will then reload, but it may take up to 10-15 minutes for the changes to take effect.

How to use Gmail’s Smart Compose feature

Once the feature is enabled, click on Compose, enter the recipient’s e-mail address, followed by Subject. To test it, I tried multiple scenarios. To begin with, I asked my colleagues about their plans for the weekend. The very first AI-based suggestion it offered me was “Hi Sambit and Nash,” and it appeared in grey. I just had to press Tab once, to accept the suggestion.

Next, I typed “Are you guys free next…..” and Smart Compose suggested the word “weekend.” It is completely contextual based, where the AI looks at your subject, the recipients and then offers relevant suggestions. But it is still learning, and at times it may end up showing the word “year” instead of “weekend.” Probably, you need to give it some time to learn from your typing patterns and suggest accordingly.

Next, when Nash replied saying “No plans as such. But any other dates?”, Gmail offered three Smart Reply suggestions – Sure, No Plans Yet, and Nothing Planned. I didn’t prefer using those suggestions and just clicked on Reply. I typed “Ok, let’s look at other….” and Smart Compose automatically suggested the next word “dates”.


Now, I agree, Google demonstrated Smart Compose by saying that it will ease the process of writing e-mails, whereas here, it is just offering word suggestions. But it is important to understand that the feature is in its initial rollout phase and there is a lot of learning it has to take. It will most likely improve over time, when it starts learning your email response patterns.

  • Published Date: May 14, 2018 3:14 PM IST