I noticed at a conference recently that the guy in front of me was using Gmail, but that it showed the message he was reading below a list of what messages were in his inbox, rather than as separate pages. I want. How do I do this in Gmail?
Not sure why you didn’t just lean forward and ask this guy, but fortunately you have me to help out, and I’m happy to do so. 🙂
What you’re talking about are “panes” in Gmail, and there are three different ways you can arrange what I call the index or table of contents of your inbox and the message display itself. Google calls them “vertical split”, “horizontal split” or “no split”, as we’ll see, but the idea’s the same: do you want to see a list of messages along with the message you’re viewing, or do you want to have them in two separate views?
There are arguments for each one. I kinda like the vertical split as it’s very similar to how Apple Mail works, showing you incoming messages in the left column while the (larger) right pane or window shows the current message you’re reading / responding to, but what’s weird about this view in most mailers is when you haven’t yet selected a message to read. Then a huge portion of the screen is blank or says “no message”.
Here’s a standard default Gmail message layout:
A long list of from / subject / excerpt messages in this particular folder (um, “label”). Not too exciting, but functional.
Look closely at the top, however, and you’ll see an icon that looks like a flying box. Click on it:
No split you’ve already seen. That’s the default.
Choose “Vertical Split” and here’s what you’ll see (I’ve clicked on a specific message to make the layout more obvious):
That’s the layout I like, personally.
Choose “Horizontal Split” and you’ll see this:
I’ve seen a number of people using this layout in their own Gmail systems, but in my opinion, the horizontal split requires the biggest screen to be useful or you end up just seeing the top few lines of the message itself, since there’s no way to reduce the number of entries in the index.
In any case, this is how ya do it. Try spending a day with a different layout and see how it goes!