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How to Add a Preview Pane to Gmail

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Do you want to see a list of emails, albeit a richly concise one, or the emails themselves plus a list of your messages, still rich and concise?

In Gmail, you can have both; you can even pick whether you want the message and list to be arranged side by side — ideal for wide browser windows and screens — or on top of each other — ideal for wide emails and narrow screens.

Add a Preview Pane to Gmail

To read messages using a preview pane in Gmail:

  • Make sure Preview Pane is enabled in Gmail Labs (see below).
  • Click the Toggle split pane mode button in your Gmail inbox.
    • The Toggle split pane mode button should be in the toolbar that also includes the Archive, Spam and Delete buttons, for instance.
  • Now select any message in the list to view it in the preview pane.
    You can click on the message or highlight it with the black triangular arrow (use j and k to position it).

Set Up the Gmail Preview Pane for Widescreen or Traditional Layout

To toggle between a vertical split that works nicely with a wide browser window and a horizontal split for the Gmail preview pane that affords more width to the message text:

  • Click the down arrow next to the Toggle split pane mode button in your Gmail inbox.
  • Select
    • Vertical Split from the menu that comes up for a widescreen and
    • Horizontal Split for a traditional layout.

Enable "Preview Pane" in Gmail Labs

  • Click the Settings gear in Gmail.
  • Select Settings from the menu that appears.
  • Go to the Labs category.
  • Type "preview pane" under Search for a lab:.
    • You don't have to finish the words to locate the option.
  • Make sure Enable is selected under Preview Pane.
  • Click Save Changes.

(Updated July 2012)

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