Productivity Windows

10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Outlook That Are Rarely Used

Lori Kaufman Updated 26-11-2018

If you use Outlook, you already know it’s a useful program for managing your email and includes a lot of great features. Today we’re going to cover some lesser known Outlook features that could help improve your workflow.


1. Change the Number of Lines in Message Previews

Outlook Message Preview

In the list of email messages, Outlook displays a preview of each message. This includes the sender and the subject line on the first line and then one line from the email message body below that by default.

You can change the number of lines from the message that displays in the list of messages.

Go to the View tab and click the Message Preview button. Then, select 1 Line (default), 2 Lines, or 3 Lines. Or select Off if you don’t want any of the email message displayed in the list.

You’ll be asked if you want to apply this setting to only This folder or All mailboxes.


The number of lines you select does not include the sender and subject line. So if you select 2 Lines, you ‘ll see three lines total: the sender and subject on the first line and then two lines of the email message body below that.

2. Choose Which Folder Displays on Outlook Launch

Change which folder opens when you start Outlook

If you have multiple email accounts in Outlook, you can select which email account inbox you want displayed by default when you open Outlook. Or you can select another folder besides the inbox if you want.

Go to File > Options and click Advanced in the left pane on the Outlook Options dialog box.


In the Outlook start and exit section, click Browse. On the Select Folder dialog box, find the account you want and select the Inbox, or other folder you want to start Outlook in.

We found that this setting doesn’t always stick. Let us know in the comments if it worked for you.

3. Create an Outlook Search Folder

Outlook Search Folder

If you search for the same words and phrases in Outlook often, you can set up a virtual Search Folder 6 Best Practices for Outlook to Boost Your Workflow If you spend any serious amount of time using Outlook, you should investigate your workflow. Make your email work for you and save time for more important tasks. Read More that shows you a list of all items that match certain search criteria. Outlook provides some templates for Search Folders or you can create your own.


For example, the Unread Mail Search Folder shows you all your unread mail in one folder, even if they’re in different folders in your email account. The messages are not moved to the Search Folder, they’re only shown there. The original messages remain in their respective folders.

To create a new Search Folder, click New Search Folder in the New section on the Folder tab. Select a ready-made Search Folder template from the list or select Create a custom Search Folder under Custom at the bottom of the list.

If you’re creating a custom Search Folder, click Choose on the New Search Folder dialog box.

Then, enter a Name for the Search Folder on the Custom Search Folder dialog box. Click Criteria and specify the details of the search on the Search Folder Criteria dialog box.


If this is not working for you, we have some methods you can use fix Outlook Search How to Fix Outlook Search When It's Not Working Is Outlook Search not working? Don't panic. These troubleshooting tips will fix the problem. Read More .

4. Clean Up an Outlook Folder

Clean Up Folder in Outlook

Outlook’s Clean Up Folder feature removes redundant messages in a thread or folder. Redundant messages are previous messages in a thread also quoted in the replies. Long email threads could end up with several copies of earlier messages that are quoted in each reply.

The Clean Up Folder command moves the redundant messages in the selected folder and its subfolders to the Deleted Items folder by default.

To use this command, right-click on the folder you want to clean up and select Clean Up Folder.

You can set the options for the Clean Up Folder command by going to File > Options > Mail > Conversation Clean Up. Select the folder you want the cleaned-up items to be moved to and enable or disable any other clean-up options you want.

5. Send an Email at a Future Date

Delay Delivery of an email in Outlook

Sometimes you need to write an email but not send it until a later time. Outlook’s Delayed Delivery feature allows you to easily do this.

First, write your new email or reply to an email. Then, click Delay Delivery in the More Options section on the Options tab in the message window.

Under Delivery options, check the Do not deliver before box and select a date and time.

Select any other options you want and click Close.

Outlook stores scheduled email messages in your Outbox until they are sent when they are moved to your Sent folder.

If you change your mind and need to cancel the delayed delivery or change it to a different date and time, go to your Outbox and open the email message. Click Delay Delivery on the Options tab again and change the date and time for the Do not deliver before option or uncheck the box to disable delayed delivery.

6. Use Quick Steps

Quick Steps in Outlook

The Quick Steps section of the Home tab in Outlook provides one-click access to common actions. Microsoft provides some initial Quick Steps to start with, but you can also create your own.

To create a custom Quick Step, click Create New in the Quick Steps section. On the Edit Quick Step dialog box, Name your Quick Step.

Then, select an action from the dropdown list and click Add Action. Keep adding other actions you want to take in the same Quick Step, clicking Add Action after each one.

For example, you can set up a Quick Step to mark selected email messages as read and then move them to a certain folder. For a similar tool, check out how to create email groups and distribution lists How to Create an Email Group and Distribution List in Outlook Learn how to create an email group or a distribution list in Microsoft Outlook and see what a tremendous timesaver it can be. Read More .

7. Open Multiple Outlook Windows

Multiple Outlook windows

If you use Outlook for email, scheduling, and tasks, you might want to open multiple Outlook windows. That allows you to see your email, calendar, and tasks at the same time instead of using the navigation buttons to keep switching views.

To open another Outlook window, right-click on the Outlook icon on the Taskbar and select Outlook 2016. Position the windows how you want.

When you close Outlook, go to File > Exit on any of the open windows. Do not click the X in the upper-right corner of any of the windows. Outlook will open the next time with the same number of windows and in the same position they were in when you exited Outlook.

8. Create and Manage Rules

Outlook Rules Wizard

You may not always like playing by the rules, but rules in Outlook can be very useful. They allow you to set up specific events to happen automatically based on actions that occur.

For example, you may want to move messages with specific words in the subject line or from a specific person to a folder and mark the messages as read at the same time. You can create a rule to do all that at once as you receive messages.

To create or manage rules, click Rules in the Move section on the Home tab and select Manage Rules & Alerts. The Rules and Alerts dialog box allows you to create, change, and manually run rules.

Click New Rule to create a rule and then follow the steps in the Rules Wizard.

One feature lacking in Outlook is the ability to automatically BCC yourself on emails. But you can get around this limitation using rules How to Automatically CC or BCC Yourself in Outlook and Gmail CCing and BCCing yourself on emails can be useful reminders for important emails. Here's how to set it up in Outlook and Gmail. Read More .

9. Change Your Outlook Account Name

Change an account name in Outlook

When you add an email account to Outlook, the default name for the account is your email address, which displays in the left pane. But you can change the account name to a more descriptive one that would make it faster to spot the account you’re looking for. Helpful if you have a lot of email accounts in Outlook.

To change an account name, right-click on the current account name in the left pane (not the Inbox for the account) and select Account Properties. Or go to File > Info (the Account Information screen).

Then, go to Account Settings > Account Settings and make sure the Email tab is active on the Account Settings dialog box. It should be by default.

Select the account in the list you want to change the name for (if it’s not already selected) and then click Change.

Change the Account name under General Settings on the Account Settings dialog box. Click Next and then click Done.

10. Use Outlook Command Line Switches

Outlook command line switches

Outlook provides command line switches that allow you to perform various operations. If you prefer using the keyboard rather than the mouse, you can speed up operations in Outlook using the command line switches. They can also help you troubleshoot problems in Outlook.

We’ve covered 25 Outlook 2016 command line switches 25 Outlook 2016 Command Line Switches You Have to Know Command line switches in Microsoft Outlook can perform all kinds of tasks. Learn these Outlook command line switches today. Read More you should know.

For example, you can create a new email message with a recipient by opening the Run dialog box (Windows key + R) and entering the following command in the Open box, replacing the email address with your recipient’s address.

outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m

Tools to Make Outlook Even More Useful

It’s all the advanced features, both popular and lesser-known ones, that make Outlook so much more powerful than Mail and other desktop email clients. Are these features not enough for you? No problem. We have covered some useful third-party Outlook tools that add functionality to Outlook, improve existing features, or perform certain tasks better than Outlook does, such as merge multiple Microsoft Outlook PST files.

Don’t forget that alongside the great features, there are many Outlook shortcuts that can help you save time The Essential List of Microsoft Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts The most useful and important keyboard shortcuts to know in Microsoft Outlook. Read More !

Related topics: Email Tips, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Outlook.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tamir
    November 22, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Search option is not working? That's easy just delete all your mails XD

  2. Mark
    July 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Used to be able to assign colors to a person sending you email as soon as it lands in your box. For example, if I got an email from my wife, I could assign red to her name. Currently, the email arrives and it’s blue in its unread status. Now I have to open it for it to turn red. Am I missing something?

  3. Taralee V Hadowanetz
    September 4, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Is this only if you have switched to the BETA format? I am not seeing ANY of this on my account. None of it looks the same.

    • Sam
      October 29, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      Are you using or the Application that comes with MS Office? This is for the MS Office Application I believe.