Gmail users now have the option of previewing messages in their inbox using a Gmail Labs feature called Preview Pane. It may be familiar to those who have accessed Gmail via a mobile app, but now it’s coming to standard Web browsers too.

Screen Shot 2011 08 04 at 23.03.14 500x366 Neat! Google has just introduced an optional three pane view to Gmail.

vertical split view

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Go into your Gmail settings and enable the ‘Preview Pane’ from the Labs tab, and then you’ll see a toggle button in the top right. This will give you the option of switching between previews and ‘list’ views.

You can also shift the preview pane to underneath the message list by selecting “horizontal split” from the drop down menu. Once you’ve previewed a message, there is a default 3-second delay in a conversation being marked as read.

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Screen Shot 2011 08 04 at 23.04.40 500x360 Neat! Google has just introduced an optional three pane view to Gmail.

horizontal split

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Our initial impressions are good but it doesn’t currently seem to play well with gmail plugin Rapportive nor Boomerang. There also does appear to be a few issues in the message pane in “vertical split” with odd width and scrolling – hopefully these are merely early day hiccups that will be resolved soon – it is a labs product after all.

Of course Microsoft’s Outlook has shipped with this feature for a number of years so devoted PC users will claim Google is playing catchup, which it is. That said, it’s a welcome feature for a web based email app and any “copycat” claims will soon be forgotten.

So what are you going for? Standard gmail view? 3 pane vertical? Or perhaps 3 pane horizontal you dare devil you…