What's new in Outlook 2013?

The first thing you’ll see when you open Outlook is a brand new look. It’s cleaner, but it’s also designed to help you focus on what’s important with a clear view of email, calendars, and contacts.

You can access Outlook 2013 videos at the link below:

Outlook 2013 training courses, videos and tutorials.

Start screen sets the scene

Outlook's new Start Screen helps you get to manage various settings within Outlook, such as setting up Automatic Replies, Rules and Alerts and personalising the way it looks.

Preview messages in the message list

Know at a glance which messages to read and tackle first.

Respond faster with inline replies

Reply with one click by typing your response directly in the Reading Pane. Or, start a Lync IM conversation for a real-time chat. 

Use commands in the message list for quick action

Flag, delete, or mark your messages read or unread with handy commands in the message list. 

Also, with the All and Unread buttons in the inbox, you can focus on the messages you want.


Customize your Inbox

Rename the folders in your Inbox and move them around to support the way you work.


Keep on top of your appointments and tasks

Grab a quick glance at your schedule, an appointment, or details about someone you’re emailing—without, for example, having to switch from email to calendar or other modes.


See all your contact details in one place

The People Card collects all the key details about a contact in one place: phone, email, address, company info, social media updates, even whether they’re available. From the card, you can schedule a meeting, send an instant message, or give them a call, making it a one-stop-shop for all communication.


Quickly switch between the main Outlook elements

Just above the status bar at the bottom of the screen, you’ll find a clearer view of Mail, Calendar, People, and Tasks, for easy navigation.


One place for all your project docs and email in Site Mailboxes

Give everyone on your team access to a team folder, calendar, and task list to manage on the go, using the combined power of Outlook, Exchange, and SharePoint.

Filter email messages

When searching for a particular message, you might remember that it contained an attachment, was marked important, or was received last week. To find a message based on certain criteria, the Filter Email command provides fast access to the most frequently used Instant Searches.

• Click Home, and then in the Find group, click Filter Email.


When you use a filter, the same Search Tools tab appears on the ribbon as when you click in the Instant Search box.

To clear the search results and view all items in the selected mail folder, click in the Instant Search box, or on the Search tab, in the Close group, click Close Search.


In the Instant Search box, click to x clear the search results

Flag incoming messages for follow-up

Some messages might require more time before you respond. A flag gives you a visual cue that you want to return to that message later.

In the message list, do one of the following:

If you've opened the message and are reading it in its own window, click the Message tab, click Follow Up, and then click when you want to follow-up.


Specify when you want to follow-up

The Tasks peek on the Navigation Bar shows all flagged items and any tasks you’ve created. If you pin the Tasks peek to the right side of the Outlook window, the flagged message appears there as well.

Set a reminder for more important items

If you have a lot of messages flagged, it might be easy to miss one that is more important. This is where reminders can help. Flags are subtle visual reminders, but a reminder pops up and demands attention—just like the alerts you see for imminent meetings or appointments. Right-click the flag, and then click Add Reminder.


Right-click the flag, and then click Add Reminder.

In the Custom dialog box, we recommend changing the default Flag to text to a description or action. For example, you could type Send Anne an answer to the permit question.

The Reminder box is already checked, so enter the date and time when you want the reminder pop up to appear. Enter the date and time when you want the reminder to appear


Today is too soon—I want to pick a different date

To change the flag’s or reminder’s follow-up date or time, in the message list, right-click the flag, and then click Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No Date, or Custom. If the message is open in its own window, click the Message tab, click Follow Up, and then click one of the choices.

If you frequently change from Today to another choice, you can set that as the Quick Flag—the flag type that is set when you first click the flag. In the message list, right-click any flag, click Set Quick Click and choose Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, or No Date.

The No Date option is available when you flag messages and can be set as the Quick Click. This choice is good for flagged items that need follow-up, but there’s no deadline. The Custom option allows you to enter a specific date for flagged items.

One-click Unread-mail filter


One of Outlook 2013's best features: a one-click unread-mail filter.

Unless you're an avid practitioner of inbox-zero techniques, chances are your inbox is full of read and unread messages alike.

In the Outlook of old (i.e. 2010), you could view only unread email by clicking the Filter button, then choosing Unread.

In Outlook 2013, there's a big, easy-to-spot Unread button right at the top of your inbox. Click it and presto: You see only those messages marked as unread. Want to go back to the full inbox view? Just click the All option right next to it. These are the kinds of simple but effective productivity improvements Microsoft should be making. Kudos for this one.

Message preview

Traditionally, the Outlook inbox has shown you the sender's name and subject line for each email. To see the actual contents, you'd have to double-click it (or click it once to view it in the preview pane).

Outlook 2013 offers message preview (accessible in the View tab), which lets you preview one, two, or three lines of the message body right inside the inbox—a great way to scan messages without having to open each one individually.

And speaking of the preview pane, you can now reply to (or forward) an email right in that pane, without having to reach for the ribbon.

Zoom slider

Depending on how an email is formatted or the size/resolution of your screen, the text might be too small to read comfortably—or too large for the confines of, say, the preview pane.

Thankfully, Outlook 2013 brings over a great feature from Word: the Zoom slider. Available in the lower-right corner of the preview pane, it lets you make quick and easy adjustments to the zoom level for the message you're viewing.

However, the setting doesn't carry over to other messages in your inbox, and if you click away from one zoomed email and then click back to it, your zoom setting is lost. Don't know if that's a bug or a "feature," but it's a bit annoying.

Attachment reminders

Outlook can now warn you when it appears you've forgotten to include an attachment referenced in the body of your message. It's a small thing, but if you're constantly on the receiving end of "You forgot the attachment!" emails, this should come in handy.




You can dress Outlook up with your choice of visual flourishes, including about a dozen themed backgrounds (calligraphy, clouds, stars, etc.) and three color schemes (but only white, light gray, and dark gray).

Frequently Asked Questions!

Where is the To-Do Bar in Outlook?

The To-Do Bar is turned off by default in Outlook 2013. You can turn it back on via the View-> To-Do Bar button in the Ribbon.

Note that it now also holds the option to show your contacts. To mark a contact as a favourite, search for the contacts and then right click on it to see the “Add to Favourites” option. You can also directly right click a contact from your Contacts folder.


The reason why it is off by default is to allow for more horizontal viewing space and because the individual To-Do Bar modules are also available merely by hovering on the word Calendar People or Tasks at the bottom of the Outlook window.


Calendar Peek feature in Outlook 2013. It also works for the People and Tasks module.

How can I stop Outlook from showing the first line of a message in my message list?

Select the View tab and click on the Message Preview button. Here you can turn off the Message Preview feature or configure it to show up to 3 lines.


How can I disable in-line reply in the Reading Pane?

To provide a more streamlined experience without the need of popping up extra message windows and dialogs any more, Outlook 2013 introduces in-line reply which allows you to press reply and directly start writing your reply in the Reading Pane (which means that it is not really a Reading Pane any more and they should have changed the name).

You can press “Pop Out” to open your message in a regular Message editor window which provides access to additional formatting options and features.

To always use the regular Message editor window instead of in-line reply, enable the option;

File-> Options-> Mail-> Replies and Forwards-> Open replies and forwards in a new window


Is there a way to change this blue “unread” line?

The colour of the blue line is determined by the font colour for unread items. You can change this colour in your Conditional Formatting settings;

Tab: View-> button: View Settings-> button: Conditional Formatting…-> select: Unread messages-> button: Font…


How can I change the default size and colour of new Notes?

To further simplify the Notes feature and because of the fact that it was rarely used, the options for the Notes feature has been removed from the Outlook interface. Setting it via the old Registry settings no longer works either.

All Notes will be yellow, show a last modified date-stamp at the bottom, use 11pt Calibri as the font and have a medium default size.

Why isn't all my mail being cached?

To further reduce the size of the ost-file and improve overall Outlook performance, Outlook won’t cache all your mail by default. This is also due to the fact that on most occasions, you no longer need direct access to all items.

By default, Outlook will cache up to 12 months of your mail if your disk is 128GB or larger. If your disk is between 64GB and 128GB, then it will cache up to 6 months by default. For even smaller disks (like for Outlook RT on a Surface tablet with 32GB), the account is automatically set to only 1 month.

When you are connected to your Exchange server, you’ll find the following remark and link at the bottom of your message list to access older items;

There are more items in this folder on the server

Click here to view more on Microsoft Exchange

To change the caching period, to a smaller or larger value (all items is an option too!) use

File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…-> double click on your Exchange account

Here you’ll find a “Mail to keep offline” slider.

Can I reduce the amount of information shown for each message in my list of messages to see more of them at once?

Yes. Go to the View ribbon, select the Message Preview drop-down menu, and choose Off. You may also wish to touch the border of the column between the message viewing pane and the message list pane and then drag the border to the right to reduce the amount of space the message viewing pane consumes. In some cases, this can allow the message list to collapse more, this making more messages visible at once.

Can messages display individually as opposed to being grouped together as conversations?

Yes. Go to the View ribbon and deselect "Show as Conversations."

Can I remove the words like 'Yesterday' and specific day names that messages are grouped under in my Inbox?

Yes. Go to the View ribbon, click View Settings (in the Current View group), Click Group By, uncheck "Automatically group according to arrangement", and click OK twice.

How do I turn off the message viewing pane on the right side of the Inbox?

Go to the View ribbon, select the Reading Pane drop-down menu (in the Layout group), and choose Off.

Can I retract a message I sent?

If you send a message by accident, you can try to recall the message from the recipients by using the Recall This Message feature in Microsoft Outlook. The message recall feature lets you recall, replace, or delete messages that you have sent. Message recall is not successful if one or more of the following conditions are true:

• The recipient is not using Outlook.

• The recipient is not logged on to the mail service provider.

• The recipient is using Cached Exchange Mode and is working offline.

• The original message is moved from the Inbox. This can occur when rules are used.

• The original message is opened first and marked as read. This can occur when the message is displayed in the Preview Pane or Reading Pane.

How to recall a message

To recall or replace a message, follow these steps:

1. Locate and double click the desired message in the Sent Items folder.

2. Click File, select Resend or Recall on the right-side pane, and then select Recall this Message.

3. Select Delete unread copies of this message and Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient

4. Click OK.

You should initially see a dialogue box indicating that the system is attempting to retract the message, and you will receive an e-mail message indicating cases of success or failure.