Starting last year with Apple’s “Lion” update for the Mac, the Apple Mail app got a whole new look—one that looks remarkably like the Mail app on the iPad, complete with a column of email messages on the left and a “preview pane” to the right.

Mac Mail classic layout setting

Just check “Use classic layout” to move the preview pane from the right side of the Mail window to the bottom.

It’s a clean, modern look, and probably a welcome change for anyone who wishes their Mac worked more like an iPad or an iPhone.

But what if you were a fan of the old Mail inbox—you know, the one with the messages listed at top of the Mail window and the preview pane at the bottom?

Well, good news: you can go back to the “classic” Mail look in just a few clicks.

Here’s how…

  • Open the Mail app, click the Mail menu in the top-left corner of the screen, and select Preferences.
  • Click the “Viewing” tab at the top of the Preferences window.
  • Check the box labeled “Use classic layout.”

Bonus tips

Once you’ve switched the “classic” look back on, you can customize the columns of message details (including message size, the “To:” field, and whether a message has been “flagged”) in your list of email messages.

Just click the View menu at the top of the screen, hover your mouse over the Columns option, then check or uncheck the columns you’d like to show or hide.

Also: Want to get rid of the preview pane altogether? Click and drag it all the way down to the bottom of the window to make it disappear.

Looking for more Mac tips? Click here!