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.
- 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)