That preview pane is nice and pretty and helpful — if you like it. What if you prefer not to have the next message open when you move the current one? Prefer a better overview of what's in a folder? Simply prefer not to have a reading pane?
Sure, the View menu lets you turn off the Reading Pane easily — for the current folder, and until Outlook decides to turn it back on.
Enough! If you prefer not to have a reading pane, Outlook lets you turn it off by default, of course. You even have more than one flexible option to achieve that.
Turn Off the Outlook Reading Pane by Default
To disable the reading pane in the default folder views:
- Make sure you are in a local or IMAP Inbox folder.
- Outlook uses different default views for POP and IMAP accounts. If you want to change both, do the process once for each kind of account.
- Select View | Current View | Define Views... from the menu.
- Highlight Messages or IMAP Messages.
- Click Modify....
- Now click Other Settings....
- Make sure Off is selected under Reading Pane.
- Click OK.
- Click OK again.
- You can now change the Reading Pane setting for other views as well, of course. Remember that IMAP accounts use a different default message view (called IMAP Messages only accessible from an IMAP account.
- Click Close.
It is possible for software updates or Outlook add-ons to reset the default folder views to their factory settings (with the preview pane enabled). You'll have to repeat applying the customization then.
Turn Off the Outlook Reading Pane by Default at Startup
To disable Outlook's preview pane for all folders (regardless of account type, default views or folder settings) at start-up:
- Open the folder that contains OUTLOOK.EXE in Windows Explorer.
- A typical location for Outlook 2007 is "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE".
- If you cannot find Outlook at this or a similar (say, "Office11" for Outlook 2003) location, try searching for "OUTLOOK.EXE".
- Open the Start or Windows menu.
- Click on All Programs with the right mouse button.
- Select Explore from the menu that comes up.
- Drag and drop OUTLOOK.EXE from its folder to the Programs folder inside the start menu folder.
- Double-click the Programs folder to which you have just dragged Outlook.
- Click on OUTLOOK - Shortcut with the right mouse button.
- Select Properties from the menu.
- Go to the Shortcut tab.
- Append " /nopreview" (not including the quotation marks) to what is in the Target: field.
- Note the white-space character.
- If the Target: field contains "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE", for example, make sure it reads '"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /nopreview' (not including the outer quotation marks) after editing.
- Optionally, go to the General tab and change the shortcut's name from the default OUTLOOK - Shortcut.
- Click OK.
- Make sure you use the newly created All Programs entry to launch Outlook with the reading pane turned off for all folders.