The latest post over at the official Gmail blog brings us some heart-warming and exciting news around a new Gmail Labs feature called Preview Pane.

  1. It means Gmail Labs are still going strong and
  2. If you own a Honeycomb tablet, you may already be familiar with the preview pane interface that Gmail for Honeycomb uses. There are 3 panes in total - folder list, message list, and a convenient preview pane, and as of today, you can view all 3 right in your regular Gmail.com.

The new UI is likely to boost productivity for most users (if you run around Gmail using only keyboard shortcuts and don't even need a mouse, the productivity boost will likely not apply to you).

Let's have a look:


Here's how to enable the Preview Pane.


Step 1.

Log into Gmail.com on your desktop or laptop.

Step 2.

Go to Mail Settings > Labs and enable Preview Pane



Click Save at the bottom of the page. Gmail will reload and go back to the message list.

Step 3.

Observe a new icon on the top right and pick your preferred split mode:


You can even go to your Mail Settings and adjust the preview pane mark-as-read timeout, like so:


Voila - your Gmail is now more awesome than ever!

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • mike

    =') thank you i wanted this ever since i first saw it on honeycomb....wishing it would come to my android phone but ill defentily use it on my desktop

  • mskks64

    can't do this on desktop, i don't think

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      What do you mean?

    • TJ

      I can confirm it can be done on desktop, I just did it with mine.

  • Mastermind26


    Woot Woot!

  • http://mgamerzproductions.blogspot.com Mgamerz

    To me it really breaks the new modern theme. Everything has scroll bars now... it feels like hotmail, and I hate hotmail...

    • mykchan

      totally. overflow: scroll FTL!

  • NYC_Dave

    Oh, very nice. Good find. Love it.

  • ben

    Doesn't give me the lab option under mail settings.

  • Ayman

    doesnt work in opera. bummer!

    edit: horizontal works but not vertical mode

  • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

    I like it but I rely on too many labels and it makes them hard to use because they no longer scroll with the page. They scroll independently with an ugly scroll bar that blocks half of the label text on some labels. Oh well.

  • http://lavadip.com HRJ

    I don't like it for regular use, but it's great when looking at search results.

    Thankfully it can be quickly toggled from a button on the top right!

  • Horse

    This still needs a bit of work. In Vertical mode, I can only see a handful of messages, most of which are from my priority inbox. That means I need to scroll down to see new messages which is a pain in the ass and a deal breaker. They could fit a lot more in there if each entry didn't require three lines with lots of padding between. It's almost like a full line break between the sender's name, the message title, and a preview line.

  • @Chris_Findley

    Just enabled on my desktop, thanks for the tip!

  • sathish

    This feature is good but needs to be better... My chat window overlaps on to labels.. it doesn't work for Me as I rely on many labels.. u can't have a right side chat If u have preview pane enabled...

  • Zach

    i like it. thanks for the tip!

  • Frank

    Unable to drag & drop labels with this lab enabled.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      That is odd... It works for me just fine.

      I know with multiple inboxes enabled it will only let you drag to the inbox portion, not any other inboxes you have set up. I can definitely drag and drop onto both the email list and the preview pane just fine. I wish it didn't make the label list almost useless by shrinking it and giving it stupid scroll bars that look like an afterthought.

  • Slighter

    nice thanks for the heads up


    I'm sure there is simple answer to this question, but how do you obtain control the Preview Pane left-hand-column from the keyboard? My scroll, arrow, home, end... keys only control the contents of the highlighted email. Thanks Rick

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Use j and k to navigate the message pane up and down.

  • Ralph Basile


    Have always wanted this in Gmail. One thing I still like better with the Honeycomb approach, is hiding the mailboxes when going into the "preview" pane mode. Less screen clutter, even on a 24" screen.