Gmail has always offered an odd mixture of lightning fast AJAX navigation and frustratingly slow load times, depending on what you’re doing. The worst offender, by far, is the initial load when you first open the page – sometimes the loading bar flashes by in a second, others it chooses to sluggishly crawl without any apparent intention of ever finishing. If you find yourself seeing the latter all too often, then you’re going to be quite pleased with a new Gmail Labs feature that just launched called Gmail Inbox Preview.
Inbox Preview does one very basic thing: as Gmail goes through its initial boot, it shows a plaintext version of your ten most recent message subject lines. You can’t open the messages or interact with them in any way, but it will let you quickly tell if you’ve got any new messages without having to sit through the load time. Most people on high speed internet connections probably won’t even notice the feature, but for those of us who reguarlly have to check our Email using quirky mobile connections or dial up service, it’s sure to come in handy.
To enable the feature, head to the Labs section of Gmail and look for “Inbox Preview”. Of course, if you’re a heavy Gmail user it might also be wise to check out one of the variety of Gmail notifier applications, which will automatically let you know when a new message has arrived.