Gmail’s AI-powered Smart Reply and Smart Compose tools

Google added a lot of productivity and machine learning tools to its email service. The additions included a way for Gmail to write email subject lines for you and schedule an email to send at a later time. It can be a little confusing to navigate some of Gmail’s features.


Enabling Smart Reply and Smart Compose

To allow Gmail to generate responses and email text, you first have to opt in from your Settings menu. If you are a regular Gmail user (instead of G Suite enterprise edition) here’s what to do:

On desktop

• Click on the gear icon on the upper right side and find the Settings page.
• Scroll down to the separate Smart Reply and Smart Compose options and choose “On” for either or both to enable the automated suggestions.
• You can also choose to allow Gmail’s machine learning to personalize the suggestions based on the way you write your emails by choosing “Smart Compose personalisation.”

For example, if you greet your colleagues with “Hi, team” versus “Hello, everyone,” it will automatically drop in whatever you use most often.

If you use G Suite, you may notice that the option to toggle on Smart Compose is not available. Your G Suite admin must enable this for the organisation. You have to contact the person in charge if you would like to test this out at work.

On the Android or iOS app

• Tap the hamburger icon on the upper left side to open the side drawer. Scroll down to Settings.
• Select the Gmail account you want to address
• Tap the checkbox on Smart Reply and / or Smart Compose to toggle the mode on

When the settings are turned on, your Gmail is set up to suggest replies and help auto finish sentences based on your writing style.


You just start typing and Gmail will begin suggesting words that might fit the sentence you are writing.

It won’t always come on for every email you write. Gmail needs context so you will likely find Smart Compose chiming in when you are responding to an email or if you are starting emails with some generic statements like “Nice to meet you” or “Hope you are well.”

If Gmail has a suggestion, an opaque set of text will appear next to what you are typing.

On the desktop version of Gmail you can press Tab to accept the suggestion. On the mobile app if a suggested word or phrase appears, swipe right to add it to the email.


Smart Compose can also suggest email subjects. Leave the subject line blank and start writing your email. When you go back to fill out the subject line, Gmail will offer a suggestion that you can accept by pressing Tab on the desktop app or swipe right on mobile.


Smart Reply works a little faster than Smart Compose. Instead of suggesting words or short phrases for you, Gmail will offer three responses that might suit the email you have received. For example, if you’ve gotten an email reminding you of an appointment, Smart Reply may suggest responses like “Confirmed,” “Thanks,” or “I can’t make it.”

Tapping these responses will not send the email right away. You can add more text to the suggested answer before choosing to send it.

If you are in an email conversation with several people you need to be aware that responding with a Smart Reply will CC everyone on that email. You will have to manually remove the people you don’t want in that response.

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