Act on your mail faster with Outlook 2013

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share via OneNote Share via Email Print

In my last post, I talked about the visual changes we made to the message list in Outlook 2013. Today I want to follow up with a discussion of the changes we made that make it faster than ever to act on your mail in Outlook.

Optimized Actions

I mentioned in my previous post that while designing the new message list, we focused on the way most people read their email. Reading is only half the story – acting on messages you receive is equally important. We analyzed data to learn as much as we could about what people do after reading emails in their message list.

Delete is far and away the most common action people take on their mail. In fact, it’s so common it accounts for around three quarters of all actions! The most common way to delete has been with a keyboard, but mouse users head straight for the ribbon. In the new Outlook, we’ve put a delete button right on your message list. As you hover over each message, a single click is all it takes to delete, and you don’t even need to select the message first.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Outlook message list has been graced by flag and categorize buttons. While flagging is still a very mainstream scenario, we found that categories were simply adding clutter for most users. Only a tiny fraction ever clicked the button to categorize their mail. Instead of wasting this space, we removed the categorize quick click button, although you can still categorize mail using the ribbon, right click menu, or using a Quick Step. And don’t worry, categories you apply will still appear in the list.

I touched on the importance of unread status in our visual update post. User feedback has told us that many people rely on the unread status of their mails to make sure they don’t miss important information or action items. By making it a single click to mark mails read or unread, you can ensure that the right things remain highlighted in your inbox. Try it out, and you might just find this has been the one thing your mail has been missing!

Touch and Single Line View

You may notice that on a touchscreen device, like those being launched with Windows 8, you won’t see the delete, flag, or unread buttons on the message list. There are major differences in the way people interact with a mouse versus their fingers, and we quickly learned that what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Check out our previous post for some of the optimizations for Outlook on touch devices.

I also wanted to mention that we focused on the multi-line view for this message list redesign, as that’s what the majority of our users see. If you work with the reading pane off or on the bottom, you might have a somewhat different message list than what I’ve discussed here. We’ve made some improvements there as well, but you might notice some differences from what’s described above.


–Josh Meisels, Outlook Program Manager


  1. jodi darrigan

    heyaaaaaaaaaaa xx 🙂

  2. jodi darrigan


  3. Kazi Asif

    please fix the problem with hotmail account. or else its a fantastic program.

  4. Where and how can I share my idea — or reaquest a feature for Outlook?

    I would like an option to shrink an attached picture file.
    I.e. compress the size of a .jpg file attachment in the incoming email.
    Maybe one doesn’t want to save the attachemnt — the best place is within the email, but one doesn’t want the attachment to take up a huge disk space.
    For a .jpg file, you might compress 1 or 2 MB into 10-50 kb.
    You don’t need to see a detailed picture — just a small one for reference.

  5. BrentBillock

    What about single-step hotkey filing? I invested a lot of time in Entourage setting rules that would file according to category, and keyboard shortcuts that would categorize. So I could file with two steps by hitting one hotkey for categorization, and another to "Apply all rules."

    If you could let me assign a hotkey to actions moving an email into a folder, OR make rules that execute only when a hotkey is pressed (instead of when the email is first delivered) you could save me one step on every single email that I keep.

  6. Mantvydas

    And there’s still no "reply with attachment". If someone sent me a Word attachment, and I need to edit the attachment, and send it back. I cannot do it without a number of clicks, or detaching the document outside of Outlook.

    What I now do in Outlook 2013. I (1) right click attchment, (2) press copy, (3) press reply, (4) put a mouse in the contents of an e-mail, (5) press paste, the attachment appears, I (6) double click it, (7) edit it, (8) save it into an e-mail and (9) send.

    I would have liked it if I would just need to press "Reply with Attachment" instead of steps from (1) to (5). Not even Quick Steps can do that.

  7. Great job on the redesign efforts. Outlook 2013 is by far the BEST tool to effectively manage one’s information (professionally and personally). I LOVE it!! Congratulations to the TEAM. Great job. Looking forward to the launch and general availability…. by then the tiny little bugs will have disappeared 🙂

  8. Juraj Grosic

    Delete button right on the message list is too close to the follow up Flag status.
    Is there any way to disable this "quick delete" action?

    I frequently use Flag status column for quick mail categorization, but now it is too easy to delete the message, since the Follow up and Delete actions are so close.

    Flag status column is also unmovable. Even if you reorder the columns in the "View settings" > "Columns" > "Show these columns in this order", the "Flag status" column will always be on the far right.

Comments are closed.