Quickly blank Mail's preview panel

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Since it’s a short week, here’s a short tip about e-mail. If you use Mail as I do, you rely on the preview panel. I almost never open a message in its own window; instead, I opt to simply read it in the preview area below the message list.

If you use your Mac in an open office environment, however, there may be times when you want to quickly hide the contents of the message being previewed—perhaps it’s a note about an upcoming surprise party, and the subject of said party is walking towards your cube. While there are any number of ways out of this situation, including command-H, command-Tab, and command-Q, today’s tip is all about a solution hiding within Mail itself: you can quickly blank the preview panel’s contents.

All you need to do is command-click (in the message list) on the message that’s currently displayed in the preview area. As in a Finder list, command-clicking an already-selected item will deselect that item. When you deselect the chosen message in Mail, you won’t have a selection, and hence, the preview area will be blank. Note that you can also hide the preview panel entirely by double-clicking on the bar that divides the preview area from the message list. However, the command-click method makes it easier to return to preview mode when you’re done being secretive—just click on any message—as the preview panel is still there.

And now, stop e-mailing those headhunters and get back to work!

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