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Outlook: Views

With e-mail being such an important communication tool, most of us send and receive many messages each day and tend to keep most of them (probably more than we need too). With all this information stored it is important that we can quickly get to the message we are looking for.

Creating folders (File - New - Folder) is an important part of this, but within each folder we can control the list of messages in many ways by Customizing the View.

Each Folder has it's own view which can have the following customized:

  • Fields (columns)
  • Sort
  • Grouping
  • Filter

Choosing Fields

Fields are another name for the columns in your list. For example, your Inbox normally has seven columns (Importance, Icon, Flag, Attachment, From, Subject, Received).

To swap these around, point to the column heading and drag the field either left or right, along the headings row. A pair of red arrows will show where the column will end-up. Beware of the black cross - it means the field will be removed from the view.

To remove a field from the view, point to the column heading and drag it downwards. When you see the black cross on top off the field name let go of the mouse. This removes the field from the view - it doesn't delete any information. Putting the field back will display the information again.

To add a field or replace one you have removed use the Field Chooser.

Display the Field Chooser by right-clicking any one of the field headings, and giving the command Field Chooser. A list of fields will then appear on the screen. This will be listing the 'Frequently-used fields' for the folder (your Tasks folder will have a different list to your Inbox).

Drag the field you want from the list to the headings row in the background, again watch for the red arrows.

You can use Field Chooser in all the views that are a list including the Task Pad in the Calendar view. For example, you can add the Due Date field to show when the tasks are required.


You probably know that you can sort a list by clicking the appropriate column heading.

If you want to sort by more than one column, for example, From and then Date, use the following technique.

Right click the column heading and give the command Customize Current View. A dialog box for controlling Fields, Group by.., Sort, Filter etc appears.

Click Sort. The Sort dialog box appears where you can set up to four sort fields. Click OK to confirm your settings.


Grouping takes sorting to another level, bringing the list together under sub-headings. You can then collapse the list so that it only shows the sub-headings, which can be expanded to show the items underneath.

You might want to do this in the Sent Items folder to group the messages by the recipient (To field).

Right-click a field heading and give the command Group By Box. This adds a panel above the field headings with a box saying "Drag a column header here to group by that column".

From the existing fields or the Field Chooser, drag the heading into that box. The list changes so that the messages are grouped under the different entries. For example, if you have dragged the To field to the Group by box, each recipient is only listed once, as a group heading.

Click the plus sign next to the group heading, and the list expands to show all the items that belong to that group.

You can drag more than one field to the Group by box, and so have groups and sub-groups.

By customizing your views in this way, you should find your message storage more manageable.

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