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Pro tips: Gmail Message Sneak Peek helps control clutter

Today Google unveiled a labs functionality called Gmail Message Sneak Peek. For heavy email users, Sneak Peek will likely become a necessity.

By Matthew Shaer / April 9, 2010

Tired of digging through piles of email messages? A new functionality called Gmail Message Sneak Peek may be the ticket.

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Today Google pushed live a Gmail functionality called Message Sneak Peek, which lets you sift through incoming email messages – even long email chains – without actually opening up the messages. Yeah, sure – it sounds like a triviality. Until you actually use the thing. We've logged a couple hours on Sneak Peek, and we're willing to bet that it will become an instant favorite among heavy users of Gmail.

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Here's how to get it up and started: First, click on the settings bar up at the top of your Gmail screen. Navigate over to the Labs tab, and scroll down until you get to the Message Sneak Peek icon. (The list is in alphabetical order.) Click the enable button, and then the save changes button at the bottom of the page. You'll also need to activate keyboard shortcuts, which is under general settings. Sign out of Gmail, and sign back in.

Message Sneak Peek should be up and running on your screen. To scan messages, you can either right click a message or press "shift-H." You should get a preview pane of the selected email. To move to the next message, hit "shift-J"; to move backwards, hit "shift-K." Pretty easy, right? Over at the official Gmail blog, software engineer Manu Cornet writes that "Messages you peek at will stay unread (or it wouldn't really be a sneak peek, would it?)."

Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch gives Message Sneak Peek high marks, but has at least one "fairly significant" gripe.

"Gmail junkies will know that ‘y’ is the shortcut for ‘archive message’, and it’s key for anyone who is sifting through a lot of Email," Kincaid notes. "Unfortunately, hitting ‘y’ while you’re using Sneak Peek will archive the message as it should, but it also closes your Sneak Peek pane, so you have to hit ‘h’ again. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re adding an extra keystroke to an action you have to make a few dozen (or more) times a day, it gets tedious fast."

Spent some time with Sneak Peek? Drop us a line in the comments section with your thoughts.

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