Some Tips for Better Viewing in Gmail

There are many reasons for switching to Gmail: it’s web-based and not dependent on a particular device, it keeps your emails automatically backed-up, it frees up your computer’s memory for other files, it integrates so nicely with other Google products, and it’s free. You may, however, think that it’s not as easy to use as your old email program. Actually, Gmail has settings that will make viewing your messages much easier.

1) Add a Preview Pane to Gmail

If you’ve ever used Outlook or Outlook Express, you may remember that the content of the selected email message was displayed along with the list of all email messages in your inbox. By using the arrow keys, you could quickly scroll through and read your email without actually clicking in the message list to open an email. To add the same functionality to Gmail:

  • From your Gmail account, click the  in the upper right.
  • Click on Settings.
  • Click on the blue Labs tab across the top.
  • Scroll down to find Preview Pane.
  • Click on Enable.
  • Click on Save Changes near the top or bottom.
  • When you go back to your Inbox, you will notice a new icon to the left of .
    • If it looks like , then click on the picture, not the arrow, to turn on the Preview Pane.
    • If it looks like , then the Preview Pane is on.
    • If you prefer seeing your Preview Pane below your message list rather than on the right side, click on the arrow beside the new icon and select Horizontal Split.
  • To populate your Preview Pane initially, click on a message in your message list.
  • You may click on messages or use your keyboard’s up and down arrows to select the message you wish to preview.

To keep previewed messages as unread:

  • Click the  in the upper right.
  • Click on Settings.
  • In the General tab, find Preview Pane:.
  • Change Mark a conversation as read to Never.
  • Click Save Changes at the bottom.

2) How to sort email by sender

A commonly requested feature for Gmail is the ability to sort your messages by size, date, sender, etc. I expect that one day Gmail’s sorting will be greatly improved, but you can select messages by sender now.

  • Hover your mouse over a sender’s name on a gmail message.
  • When the pop up contact box appears, click on Emails in the pop up box.
  • All of your emails “from” and “to” that sender will be listed and the search bar will show something like this:
  • If you only want to see emails “from:” that sender, go up to the search bar and delete the text from the end of the line through the OR and click the .
  • If you only want to see emails “to:” that contact, delete the text from the beginning of the line in the search bar through the OR and click the .

3) How to separate messages and replies from each other

Gmail automatically groups email replies with their original message. This conversation group is called a thread and is meant to make it easier to follow the progression of a particular subject. Once you get used to them, threaded conversations are easier, but for those who prefer to have email replies appear as individual messages and not threaded:

  • Click the  in the upper right.
  • Click on Settings.
  • In the General tab you will see Conversation View.
  • Select Conversation view off.
  • Click Save Changes at the bottom.
2 replies
    • Lynn
      Lynn says:

      Louise, I thought of you as soon as I found out about Gmail’s Preview Pane! I’m so glad you like it well enough to leave Outlook!


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