Gmail now has a preview pane

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As you probably know, I have been recommending Gmail as an email service for a long time – for a variety of reasons (please don’t use the email address that comes with your internet provider!).  Recently, Google has enabled Gmail email to be viewed with a preview pane.  Finally!


What’s a preview pane, you’re wondering?  Glad you asked!

If you go to your Gmail account at, your inbox will look like this:


It’s been like this for years.  Just one list of the emails that have come in, and in order to read one you need to click on it.  When you click it, the list of emails disappears and all you see is the text of that one email.

When you enable the preview pane, your inbox will look more like this:

Gmail preview pane

All of the emails are still in a list on the left side, but when you click to select one, the content of that email is displayed in the preview pane on the right side.  You can also select to have them divided horizontally instead of vertically if you prefer.

To enable the Preview Pane feature in your Gmail:

1. Go to the top right corner of the Gmail screen and click the little icon that looks like a sprocket, and in the drop down menu from there, click on Mail Settings

Gmail mail settings

2. In the Mail Settings window, click on the “Labs” tab

3. In the list, find “Preview Pane” and click to Enable it

4. Click “Save Changes” either at the top or bottom of the list

So that’s all you need to do!  Now, while you are looking around in the “Labs” section, you might find some other interesting things that you can do with your Gmail account.  Labs is where Google tries out some experimental things to see how they work with the users.  You will probably see some fun stuff to try in there, so give it a shot.  You can always go back in and turn it off if you don’t like the changes.

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Moe Beaudin
August 15th, 2011

I click on Labs and Preview Pane was not listed among the choices
listed. I will check again from time to time.

Scott Johnson
August 15th, 2011

There are quite a few in the list, and it is alphabetical – should be down in the “P” section.

Moe Beaudin
August 15th, 2011

I went back to Gmail and this time when I clicked on Labs a different list
showed up and Preview Pane was listed and I clicked on it and saved it.
I do have one problem with Gmail that perhaps you can help with. When
I click on Compose Mail I get the screen for it and I click on To and a
pop up appears with all of the names on my contact list. This worked
fine for months until about 2 months ago. Now the button at the bottom
does not appear which is used to add all of the contacts I check marked
into the address line. So without this button none are added. Now to
add names to the emails I have to click on a letter and all of my contacts
starting with that letter shows up in the to line and I click on the one’s I
want to send the email to. Do you know how or what I have to do to get
the Add button back to my pop up of contacts so I can add them like
it used to be. I thought about emailing them but son John said he doubts
they would answer me as they are to busy to bother with every email
sent to them. It doesn’t matter if I use BCC or CC either. Thanks, Moe

Scott Johnson
August 15th, 2011

Moe – no quick answer for this one, but I really can’t do tech support through blog comments though – this would be something handled through my remote support service (

Mitch Kihn
August 15th, 2011

Sounded interesting so I followed your instructions and enabled the Preview Pane. But getting back to my emails and trying it out, nothing was different – no side preview pane showed up. i even closed Chrome and reopened it and still nothing.