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Why Can’t I Preview Emails In Gmail?

Keith from TX writes: On Gmail, I used to be able to right click on an e-mail and preview it. Now I can’t. What changed?

Google’s Gmail client has been going through a series of changes lately, and there are likely to be more in the future as some of the bugs are worked out and new features are tested. Unfortunately one of the casualties of these changes was built-in previewing of e-mail messages before opening them. If previewing is a must-have feature for you, there is still a method for scanning your messages ahead of time, however.

Much like Firefox has “extensions” or Internet Explorer has “add-ins,” Gmail also has extra third party tools that aren’t officially supported called “labs.” There is in fact an e-mail preview lab, and it only takes a few clicks to activate the feature.

To get started, click the black cog icon located towards the upper-right end of the Gmail page, and then select “Settings.”

Gmail Settings

Underneath the main “Settings” heading, click the “Labs” option in the list of links spread across the top of the screen.

Gmail Labs

Click inside the “search for lab” text box and type the word “preview” to bring up a list of labs associated previewing messages.

Searching Labs

Locate the lab named “Preview Pane” created by Peter B & Mikael K. Click the “Enable” button located to the right of the lab’s description.

Enabling the Lab

Scroll back up to the top of the list of labs and click the “Save Changes” button to enable the preview option.

Saving Changes

Return to your inbox and click the “toggle split panel button” located near the top of the window and to the left of the cog icon. Choose where you want the preview panel to be positioned (either to the side or below your messages) by clicking the “horizontal” or “vertical” option.

Arranging Message Previews

Keep in mind that this lab may be removed at any time as Google changes features (since some of those coming features may not work with the preview lab), and you may have to return to the labs screen to search for a new previewing tool in the future.

~ Ty Arthur