When you enable this feature, a new button will appear next to the gear icon in your inbox. From here you can toggle Preview Pane on and off and select either a vertical or horizontal orientation.
If you're processing your emails in bulk at designated times rather than as they arrive — as you should be — you know it's a drag to have to return to your inbox after handling each message to select the next one. Auto-advance saves you time by automatically moving to the next oldest message (if you process your inbox from the top down) or next newest (if you process from bottom up). You can configure your preference on the General tab under Settings.
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