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Change Inbox view

This tutorial is talking about changing folder (the Inbox folder) view in Outlook, including switching folder views between the auto preset folder views, customizing folder views (says adding columns, sorting, filtering, grouping, conditional formatting, etc.), and resetting folder views as well.

Table of Content

Note: Methods introduced on this page apply to Microsoft Outlook 2019 desktop program in Windows 10. And the instructions may vary significantly or slightly depending on the version of Microsoft Outlook and the Windows environments.


1. Change current folder view

By default, the Inbox is displayed in the compact view in Outlook. There are three other preset views you can easily change to: Single and Preview. This tutorial will introduce these preset views, and show you how to display the Inbox folder in other preset views.

1. Compact view

The Inbox folder is opening in the compact view by default. If the Inbox folder does not display in the compact view, you can click View > Change View > Compact to shift to this view.

The compact view contains the message list and reading pane, and it changes the layout of message list mainly.

In the message list, you will see every email display in three lines:
(1) The first line shows the sender of the email;
(2) The second line indicates the subject and received date of the email;
(3) And you can preview the message body of the email in the third line. The wider the message list is, the longer content you can preview.

Notes:
(1) If the Outlook interface is too narrow, it will hide the message list automatically and display the reading pane only.
(2) If you modify the compact view, says add columns, or change the arrangement style, you can quick restore the default compact view by clicking View > Rest View.

1.2 Single view

After opening the Inbox folder, you can display it in the single view by clicking View > Change View > Single.

The single view also contains the message list and reading pane too. In the single view, you will get more information about an email from the message list. And this view will be a good choice in a wide screen mode.

In the message list, every email displays in two lines.
(1) The first line shows all kinds of information of an email via columns, including importance status, reminders, attachments, sender, subject, received date, etc. No matter how many columns you have added, they will display in the message list.
(2) And the second line displays the message body of the email. The wider the message list, the more content you can preview.

Notes:
(1) The single view works well with a wide screen. If the Outlook interface is too narrow, it will hide the message list automatically and display the reading pane only.
(2) If you have changed the view settings in the single view, says change the sort order, filter, or arrangement styles, you can click View > Reset View to restore the default single view.

1.3 Preview view

After opening the Inbox folder, you can change its view to preview by clicking View > Change View > Preview.

The preview view is similar as the single view, except turning off the reading pane. It displays the message list in a wide mode.
In the wide message list, every email contains two lines.
(1) The first line shows every field of an email in a column, such as from, subject, received, size, flag, etc. No matter how many columns you have added in this view, they will display in the message list.
(2) You can preview the message body of an email in the second line.

Notes:
(1) The preview view is fit for a wide screen. If you narrow the Outlook interface, the preview view will change the compact view without reading pane automatically.
(2) If you have changed the view settings in the preview view, says change the sort order, filter, or arrangement styles, you can click View > Reset View to restore the default preview view.


2. Customize current view - add columns

You can easily change the Inbox folder to the preset views: compact, single, and preview. However, if these preset views can’t meet your needs, you can customize the current view. This tutorial will show you how to add or remove columns from the current view.

2.1 Add a column in the current view

For example, you want to add the Cc column in the current view, you can do as follows:

1. Open the specified mail folder (the Inbox folder in this case), and click View > Add Columns.

2. In the Show Columns dialog, please do as follows:
(1) Please select the specified category containing the column from the Select available columns from drop-down list. In this case, please choose All Mail fields;
(2) In the Available columns list box, please click to select the specified column you will add. In this case, please select Cc.
(3) Click the Add button.

3. Now the Cc column is added to the right list box. Please click to select Cc in the right list box, and click the Move Up button to move it to the proper position.

4. Click the OK button.

So far, the Cc column has been added to the current mail folder. See screenshot:

Notes:
(1) If the specified folder is in the compact view, you may not get the added column until turning off the reading pane or move it to bottom. You can click View > Reading Pane > Off or Bottom to turn off the reading pane or move it to the bottom of message list.
(2) You can click View > Reset View to restore the default view settings.

2.2 Remove a column from the current view

There are several methods to remove a column from the current view.

2.2.1 Remove a column from the current view

Supposing the Inbox folder is displaying in the preview view at present, and you want to remove the Subject column from this view, you can do as follows:

1. Click View > Add Columns to open the Show Columns dialog.

2. In the Show Columns dialog, please click to select the column you will remove in the Show these columns in this order list box, and click the Remove button.

3. Click the OK button.

Now the specified Subject column is removed from the current view.

2.2.2 Remove a column from the current view with right-clicking menu

If the Inbox folder is in the single view or preview view, you can remove a column from the view with the right-clicking menu easily.
In the message list, right click the specified column header which you will remove, and select Remove This Column from the right-clicking menu.

Now the specified column is removed from the current view at once.

Note: If the specified folder is in the compact view, you cannot right click a column header until you turn off the reading pane or move it to bottom. You can click View > Reading Pane > Off or Bottom to turn off the reading pane or move it to the bottom of message list.

2.2.3 Remove a column from the current view with dragging and dropping

If the Inbox folder is in the single view or preview view, you can also easily remove a column with dragging and dropping.

At the top of the message list, click the specified column header that you will remove, drag it and drop out of the message list. Then the specified column is removed from the current view immediately.

Note: If the specified folder is in the compact view, you cannot drag a column header until you turn off the reading pane or move it to bottom. You can click View > Reading Pane > Off or Bottom to turn off the reading pane or move it to the bottom of message list.


3. Customize current view - arrange and group emails

If you have not customized the Inbox folder view or reset to the default view, the emails are grouped and sorted by the received date and time automatically in the message list. Here, this tutorial will show you the way to arrange or group emails by different criterion.

3.1 Quick arrange (group and sort) emails

You can quickly arrange emails (group and sort emails simultaneously) by the arrangement commands in the Ribbon and in the message list easily.

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click More icon  at the bottom-right corner of the Arrangement box on the View tab, and then click Show in Groups to enable this option.
Tips: By default, this option is enabled. You’d better check whether it has been enabled before below operations.

2. Then you can quickly arrange emails with clicking the criteria in the Arrangement box on the View tab.

You can also quickly arrange emails in the message list with clicking  at the top of the message list, and then select an arrange criteria in the Arrange by section in the drop-down list. See screenshot:

3.2 Group emails with View Settings

You can also configure the view settings, and then group emails by one or more criteria easily in the current view.

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the opening dialog, please click the Group By button.

3. In the popping out Group By dialog box, please do as follows:
(1) Untick the Automatically group according to arrangement option;
(2) In the Group items by section, please select the criteria that you will group emails based on from the drop-down list;
(3) Please select and check the sort order as you need. In this case, I check Ascending.

Tips:
(1) If you cannot find the specified group criteria in above step (2), you can change the field category from the Select available fields from drop down-list, and then select group criteria in the Group items by drop-down list again.
(2) If you need to group emails by multiple criteria, please go ahead to specify the group criteria and sort order in below Then by sections as much as you need.

4. Click the OK > OK successively.

Now the emails are grouped by the specified criteria in the message list.

3.3 Notes

(1) If you need to clear the customized group and group items by date again, please click View > Date in the Arrangement box on the Ribbon or  > Date at the top of the message list.

(2) If you need to clear the customized view settings from the current view, please click View > Reset View on the Ribbon.


4. Customize current view - sort emails

After opening the Inbox mail folder, you will see the emails are automatically grouped and sorted by received date in the message list. In some cases, you may want to sort emails with one or more criteria. Here, this tutorial will show you the solution to sort emails in the message list.

4.1 Quick sort emails by arrangement commands

You can quickly sort emails by clicking commands in the Arrangement box in the View tab on the Ribbon.

1. For example, you want to sort emails by sender, you need to click the More icon  at the bottom-right corner of the Arrangement box on the View tab, and then click Show in Groups to disable it.

2. Then click From in the Arrangement box to sort emails by sender, and click Reverse Sort to reverse the current sort order as you need.

Tips: You can also click the arrow  at the top of message list, and then specify sorting criteria in the Arrange by section of the drop-down list to sort emails in the message list. And click A to Z or Z to A in the  drop-down list or  at the top of message list to reverse the sort order.

4.2 Quick sort emails by clicking column header

If the columns are displaying in the view, you can click a certain column header to quickly sort all emails by the field at ease.

Tips:
(1) If the Inbox folder is in the compact view, you can click View > Reading Pane > Off or Bottom to display all columns.
(2) If the Outlook interface is too narrow to display all columns, columns will disappear.

4.3 Sort emails by configuring view settings

You can configure the view settings and sort emails by one or multiple criteria as you need.

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the Advanced View Settings dialog, please click the Sort button.

3. In the popping out Sort dialog, in the Sort items by section, select the primary sort criteria from the drop-down list, and check the proper sort order as you need.

Tips:
(1) If you need to add secondary sort criteria, please go to the first Then by section, select the secondary sort criteria and sort order. So does the third and the fourth sort criteria.
(2) If you can not find out the proper sort criteria from the drop-down list, you can change the field category from the Select available fields from drop-down list, and then specify the sort criteria.

4. Click the OK buttons successively to save the view settings.

Now all emails are sorted by the specified sort criteria in the message list.

4.4 Notes

1. You can click Date in the Arrangement box in the View tab on the Ribbon to clear the customized sorting and restore the original sorting.

2. You can clear all customized view setting from the current view with clicking View > Reset View.


5. Customize current view - filter emails

Normally when you display the Inbox folder in the preset compact view, single view, or preview view, all emails are listing in the message list. In fact, you can filter emails and display emails meeting criteria only in the message list.

5.1 Quick filter unread emails

After opening the Inbox folder, you can click Unread at the top of message list to filter out all unread emails immediately. And clear the filter by clicking All at the top of the message list.

You can also click arrow  at the top of the message list to activate the drop-down menu, and then click Unread Mail or Mentioned Mail from the drop-down menu to filter unread or mentioned emails, and click All Mail from the drop-down menu to clear filter.

5.2 Filter emails by configuring view settings

You can change the view settings to filter emails by specified criteria easily. Please do as follows:

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the Advanced View Settings dialog, please click the Filter button.

3. In the Filter dialog, you can add one or more filter criteria as you need.

(1) Under the Messages tab, you can add below filter criteria:

  • Search for the word(s): filter emails by the specified keywords in the subject or message body;
  • From: filter emails by sender;
  • Send To: filter emails by recipients;
  • Where I am: filter emails that were sent to me only, filter emails that were Cc to multiple people including me, or filter emails that were sent to multiple people including me;
  • Time: filter emails by received time, sent time, due time, expires time, created time, or modified time.

(2) Under the More Choices tab, you can add below filter criteria:

  • Categories: filter emails by one or multiple categories;
  • Only items that are: filter unread or read emails;
  • Only items with: filter emails with or without attachments;
  • Whose importance is: filter emails by importance status;
  • Only items which: filter emails by flag status;
  • Match case: filter emails with case sensitive;
  • Size: filter emails by message size.

(3) Under the Advanced tab, you can add multiple custom filter criteria as you need.

For example, you want to filter emails by Cc recipient, you can specified the filter criteria as “Cc  contains  specified email address” in the Define more criteria section, and click Add to List button to add this custom filter criteria to the Find items that match these criteria list box.

You can add as many filter criteria as you need here, and logic relationship between these criteria is AND.

4. Click the OK buttons successively to save the filter settings.

Now you will see the emails are filtered, and only emails meeting all specified filter criteria are listing in the message list.

Tip: If you filter emails by changing the view settings, you can clear the filter as follows: (1) Click View > View Settings; (2) In the Advanced View Settings dialog, then click the Filter button; (3) In the Filter dialog, click the Clear All button firstly, and then click the OK button; (4) At last click the OK button to close the Advanced View Settings dialog.

5.3 Notes

You can clear all custom view setting and restore the default view by clicking View > Reset View easily.


6. Customize current view - other settings

After opening a mail folder, says Inbox folder, you can change the fonts and table view settings (rows and columns) in the message list. Here, this tutorial you will show the way to make other settings and customize the appearance of the message list in Outlook.

6.1 Configure other settings to change fonts and other Table view settings

Supposing the Inbox folder is in the preview view, and I will take the Inbox for example to configure other settings to change the font and other table view settings for the message list.

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the Advanced View Settings dialog, please click the Other Settings button.

3. Now the Other Settings dialog comes out. You can configure the view settings as you need.

6.1.1 Column Font

This button will change the font, font style, and font size of the column headers.

In the Other Settings dialog, click the Column Font button. Then in the Font dialog please specify the font, font style, and font size successively as you need, and click the OK button to save the font settings.

After saving the view settings, you will see the font of the column headers in the message list is changed as you specified.

6.1.2 Row Font

This button will change the font, font style, and font size of every email row in the message list.

In the Other Settings dialog, please click the Row Font button. Then in the Font dialog, please specify the font, font style, and font size as you need, and click the OK button.

After saving the view settings, you will see every row in the message list is changed and displayed as the specified font, font style, and font size.

6.1.3 Allow in-cell editing

If you tick this Allow in-cell editing option in the Other Settings dialog and save the view changes, you will see every field of a certain email in the message list is editable. Just click the specified field, and you can add, remove, or edit the content of this field directly.

6.1.4 Show “new item” row

After ticking the Allow in-cell editing option in the Other settings dialog, you will see the Show “new item” row option is checkable. If you enable this option, it will add a blank row at the top of the message list for you to add new post easily.

6.1.5 Grid line style

By default, the grid lines among emails are solid. You can change the grid line style here.

In the Other Settings dialog, click the Grid line style box, and select a grid line style from the drop-down list.

After saving the view setting, you will see the grid lines between emails are changed to the specified style in the message list.

6.1.6 Show items in Groups

By default, this option is ticked in the Other Settings dialog. If you disable the Show items in Groups option, the group names will be removed from the message list.

6.1.7 Font (Message Preview)

This button will change the font, font style, and font size of the message preview in the message list.

In the Other Settings dialog, please click the Font button in the Message Preview section. Then in the Font dialog, please specify the font, font style, and font size as you need, and click the OK button.

After saving the view settings, you will see the texts in message preview are displayed as the specified font, font style, and font size in the message list.

6.1.8 Reading Pane

In the Other settings dialog, checking the Right option will display the reading pane in the right side of message list, checking the Bottom option will display the reading pane at the bottom of message list, while checking Off will turn off the reading pane.

6.1.9 Use compact layout in widths smaller than n characters

This option is ticked by default in the Other Settings dialog. If this option is enabled, the current view will automatically change to the compact view when the Outlook interface is too narrow to display the specified number of characters.
If this option is disabled, you can select Always use single-line layout or Always use compact layout as you need.

6.1.10 Show messages from all folders in expanded conversation groups

If you enable this option and arrange emails by conversation thread in the current view, emails from other folders will display in the expanded conversations only if these emails belong to the conversation threads.

6.1.11 Show conversation groups using Classic Indented view

If you enable this option and arrange emails by conversation thread in the current view, the replies are indented automatically under the emails you replied to in the conversations.

Notes

1. If the mail folder is in the compact view, some of above view settings may not take effect until you move the reading pane to the bottom of the message list or turn off the reading pane.

2. No matter how many custom view settings you have made, you can quickly clear all of them by clicking View > Reset View.


7. heading one

It's common to use conditional formatting to highlight cells, rows, or columns automatically in Excel. Similar as that in Excel, we can also apply conditional formatting to highlight emails automatically in Outlook. This tutorial will show you how to use conditional formatting in Outlook.

7.1 Apply conditional formatting to highlight emails automatically

Supposing we need to automatically highlight all emails from a certain sender in the Inbox, we can apply conditional formatting to get it done as follows:

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the Advanced View Settings dialog, please click the Conditional Formatting button.

3. Now the Conditional Formatting dialog comes out. Please click the Add button, and then type a new conditional formatting rule name in the Name box.

Tips: If you need to modify an existing rule, please click to highlight the rule in the Rules for this view list box.

4. Go ahead to click the Font button in the Conditional Formatting dialog. Then in the Font dialog, please specify the font, font style, font size, font color, etc. as you need, and click the OK button.

5. Go ahead to click the Condition button in the Conditional Formatting dialog. Then in the Filter dialog, please specify the filter criteria as you need, and click the OK button.

Tips: In my case, I type the specified sender’s email address in the From field in the Filter dialog.

6. Click the OK buttons successively to save the settings and close dialogs.

Now in the message list, you will see all emails meeting the specified criteria are highlighted automatically.

7.2 Notes

1. You can clear the specified conditional formatting rule as follows: (1) Click View > View Settings; (2) Click Conditional Formatting button in the Advanced View Settings dialog; (3) In the Conditional Formatting dialog, please click to select the conditional formatting rule, and click the Delete button; (4) Click the OK buttons to save changes.

2. You can clear all custom view settings and restore to the default view by clicking View > Reset View.


8. Customize current view - format columns

As you know, the emails are listing in a big table in the message list. You can configure the view settings to change the display format of columns, such as alignment, column width, label, etc. in the table.

8.1 Specify the display formats for each column (field)

Supposing the Inbox is in the preview view, you can specify the display formats for columns or fields in the message list as follows:

1. After opening the Inbox folder, please click View > View Settings.

2. In the Advanced View Settings dialog, please click the Format Columns button.

3. Now the Format Columns dialog comes out. Please configure and change the options as you need:

(1) In the Available fields list box, please click to select the column you will change.

(2) Click the Format box, and select the proper format style as you need from the drop-down list.
Tips: The options of the Format drop-down list vary significantly depending on the column you selected in the Available fields list box.

(3) If you need to rename the column, please type in a name in the label box.

(4) In the Width section, you can configure to show the specified column in a fixed width, or in a dynamic width based on the content of this email field.
Tips: Even if you have specified the fixed width, the fixed value will change automatically when you change the width of Outlook interface, turn on or off other sections such as folder pane, to-do list, etc.

(5) In the Alignment section, change the alignment in the specified column. There are three alignment styles: Left, Center, and Right.

4. After finishing the settings, please click the OK buttons successively to save the settings and close dialogs.

Now in the message list you will see the specified column is displayed in the new format.

8.2 Notes

1. Some of above view settings may not take effect when the reading pane is displaying on the right of message list. In this situation, you can turn off the reading pane or move it to the bottom of the message list by clicking View > Reading Pane > Off or Bottom.

2. You can quickly clear all custom view settings and formats by clicking View > Reset View.


9. Reset Current View

If you have made custom view settings, such as add column, change group criteria, sorting criteria, or filter emails, etc. in a folder, you can quickly reset to the default view settings in Outlook.

9.1 Reset current view

1. Open the specified folder that you will reset to the default view settings, and click View > Reset View.

2. In the popping out Microsoft Outlook dialog, please click the Yes button.

Now the opening folder is restored to the default view settings immediately.

Reset view of a certain view

You can also apply below steps to reset view settings of a certain view.

1. Open the specified folder, and click View > Change View > Manage Views.

2. In the Manage All Views dialog, please click to select the specified view you will reset, and click the Reset button.

3. In the popping out Microsoft Outlook dialog, please click the Yes button.

So far, the specified view has been reset. Please close the Manage All Views dialog as you need.


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