Adjusting our Outlook Messages Pane: Columns

We would focus here on the Outlook Messages pane, adjusting it for a convenient and fluent work.

The Messages pane is the 2nd pane from the left. It contains the list of our emails. Our goal would be to view as much emails as we can with while including only the mandatory information needed for our work (remember, our screen is the most valuable real estate property in our work environment).


In this post we would focus on which columns we should use.

Which columns should we use?

The Messages pane contains columns (take a look at the top of the Messages pane). I found that Outlook default is not suitable for me. There are a few items that are not really interesting to view.

I found out that the most important items to view are as listed below. I have listed them by the order I recommend them to appear, left to right.

  • Importance: I always like to know if someone set the importance indication on an email. As general note, I believe we should use this indication rarely. However, when someone uses it, I want to be aware of it, as the sender probably reaching out for me for some attention.
  • Icon: the icon can show us whether the message is read/unread, and whether it contains multiple emails on the same email conversation. All of this information is known by other means: read-vs-unread by the bold/regular of the email title line, single-vs-conversation by the small arrow existence in the beginning of the message line. However, the extra information the Icon is giving us is the indication whether the email was replied/forwarded by you – using a small blue/purple arrow on the envelope icon. I find it valuable for me, so I keep this icon.
  • Attachment:  sometimes I am reviewing a long email conversation and searching for a specific email that contains an attachment. Although I am not a fan of attachments, I can not control what others send to me (we would talk later on about attachments vs. links).
  • From, Subject, Received: I believe we have no argument that those are must to keep.
  • Categories: you might not be using them (yet), but once you will, those are a must.
  • Flag Status: for me, those are usually going along with the categories. I never use a flag without a category (again, I would probably talk about this later on, please bare with me).

For all the rest, I got rid of them, and I believe you should do too. If you feel you want to keep am extra column, do so after you have provided yourself a sufficient reason.

For adjusting your view, you can right click on the Messages pane title, select the Advanced View Settings option and then select the Columns option as shown below.



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Erez Morabia

I’m an engineer and a leader in the computer software industry which is passionate about leading teams, embracing new technologies and improving soft skills for work efficiency.

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