Compact message header in Outlook 2013

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Ronak Trivedi is a program manager on the Outlook engineering team.

We are excited to announce that we’ve taken all the feedback we’ve received and used it to design a compact version of the email message header in Outlook 2013. The new message header gives you control over the header information you see, so that you can concentrate on what matters most: the content of the message. We really like it, and we think you will too.

Expanded or collapsed? You decide.

We’ve made it incredibly simple. You can decide which view of the message header you like. Do you want to show the traditional header? Or do you want to focus on message content and get rid of excess chrome? You can switch between displays with just a click.




Clicking the arrow on the email message header expands or collapses the header.

It’s that easy. Just click the arrow located in the bottom right hand corner of the message header to experience the new compact minimal header.

Is that all it does?

Of course not! We’ve designed the compact version of the minimal header to adapt to your unique usage patterns in Outlook. Here are a few things that we did to make sure you fall in love with the compact header.

Sometimes my reading pane is really, narrow. What happens then?

The message header is smart enough to know when it cannot show all the recipients inline. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where the reading pane is too narrow to show all the recipients inline, an indicator appears that tells you how many people on the email are not being shown. Don’t be afraid to resize your reading pane. We’ve designed the compact header to dynamically update, so you will always know how many people are not being shown inline!


A numeric indicator shows the number of additional recipients on the email whose names are not being displayed .

How do I see all the To and Cc information?

As you may have guessed, you can click the indicator. Clicking it displays a list of all the recipients on the email and shows whether they were on the To line or the Cc line. We’re also thrilled to present a new way of viewing recipients in compact mode. You’ll see a simple, vibrant, drop down menu that shows each person’s name and photo.


A new dropdown menu in the compact message header displays photos and names of email recipients.

Continue to stay connected with the people that matter most.

The compact header still allows you to bring up recipient information as it does today. Hovering over the sender’s or recipient’s name will show the contact card.


Hover over a name in the header to show the contact card.

Expanding the contact card displays the person card.


The person card gives you more information.

Outlook is always improving.

Outlook’s compact message header is just one of the many improvements the Outlook team plans to make in the near future. We are dedicated to bringing our users the best, most exciting and efficient communication experiences, and on as many devices as possible. We will continue to listen to your valuable feedback in the hopes that we can make a better Outlook for everyone. For now, we hope you’ll enjoy using the new compact message header!

–  Ronak Trivedi

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will compact message header in Outlook 2013 be available?

A. Compact message header in Outlook 2013 is available as part of last month’s updates for Office 365 subscribers as well as Office 2013 Service Pack 1.

  1. Hi,

    My comment isn’t directly related to this thread but I couldn’t find a more relevant recent post on the subject. In a nutshell, I’m wondering why there is so little information available about the daily task list in Outlook 365. I know it’s still part of the desktop version but I can’t find ANYTHING about whether that feature is in the online versions. I know it isn’t part of, but what about the OWA version of Outlook 365? Have tasks become the ‘orphan’ component of Outlook?


    • I can’t really speak to how it stacks up feature-wise, since I use it in neither place, but there is a Tasks button in the lower left of OWA in Office 365. Creating a new task looks like this:

      As for this blog post, it’s nice to see, and not something I even noticed before in SP1. There are other areas to tighten up as well, like the message list, but this is a start.

      Oh, and about the color themes, you really disappointed a lot of people.

  2. Ok Microsoft, you are moving in the right direction. Now, how about listening to the ‘Whole Story’ and not just what you want to hear. Yes, this change reduces the header, some. However, most complaints are the header is too big AND please remove the photos.

    The addition of the social networking tie-in is a nice idea; most likely thought up by some 20’s something engineer at MS who has little experience with real world application. In the real world, corporate IT firewalls do not allow for un-filtered information from the outside world. In most cases social networking such as facebook is either blocked completely, or has partial blocks which prevent such integration from working. In these cases that photo becomes a huge, blank, place holder that serves no purpose. This is how it is with my company.

    I work for a global corporation whose firewall allows access to some social networks via http, but does not support app integration to pull data from these sites. So when I tried Outlook 2013, it was a mess. It was even worse when I tried it on a tablet which has less screen real estate. My test summary back to my global IT was: “Do not move to Outlook 2013”. To this day we are still on Outlook 2010 and this will not change until Microsoft stops listening ONLY to one demographic.

    Again, I can see where this might be a nice feature for a home user or college student, but corporate users should be able to turn it off.

    • Hi VanAwful. There are two things you might consider if you want more real estate using Outlook 2013.
      1. Use Outlook in minimalist mode – collapsing the ribbon menu and folder pane. Visit here for and explanation and tutorial –
      2. On a tablet, Outlook and all Office applications will show in Touch mode by default. Touch mode adds more space around the buttons and groups some of them together to make more space. It’s goal is to make the buttons easier to press for fingers. You can change it back to Mouse mode. Read Robert Crane’s post about it here –

      The photo in Outlook doesn’t have to be populated by Facebook or LinkedIn. You can upload photo’s to Active Directory/Exchange and display them from within your corporate environment.
      Rseilers reply should cover the “hide the empty photo” scenario.

      • Thank you both. Yes, the setting to hide the picture worked, but it did require a restart of OutLook.

        I have everything collapsed that I can find. Now just need a way to:

        – Remove the message preview line that shows under the senders name and suject. This is not in my outlook 2010.

        – Remove the community bar at the bottom of the reading pane. This was introduced in 2010 and also takes up real estate.

        • 1) View/Message Preview/Off?
          2) View/People Pane/Off? Though I don’t actually have that button since I have the Outlook Social Connector add-in disabled.

  3. I have to ask, where did the message time go in the compact view? I see the date in mm/dd/yy format. But the time isn’t displayed.

    • I’m baffled by that since I DO see the time on my messages — for messages from the current week. So, for example, I’ll see something like “Fri 1:34AM” over on the right side of the compact header for a message received this week, but “Fri 3/7” for a message received the Friday before.

      How recent messages shown at the top of this blog post do NOT work that way perhaps amounts to a setting I changed long ago or the fact that they’re using Exchange on the back end and I’m not. Just two guesses.

  4. No entiendo… tengo equipos SIN el SP1 y tengo la característica de compactar el encabezamiento ¿¿??
    (I do not understand … WITHOUT SP1 equipment and have the characteristic of compact header ¿¿??)
    Versión Outlook sin SP1: 15.0.4551.1511 (MSO 15.0.4551.1007)

  5. I just installed/upgraded to Office 2013 using a Microsoft Home Use Program (HUP) purchase. I’m glad to read you designed a compact version of the email message header, but I can’t see the “arrows” you added as your post describes, i.e., “It’s that easy. Just click the arrow located in the bottom right hand corner of the message header to experience the new compact minimal header.” to make sure I had the new fix, I downloaded and ran the Office 2013 Service Pack 1, but it said “there are no products affected by this product installed on this system”. Any suggestions on how to get those arrows to appear so I can reduce the message header?

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