Sorting and Grouping E-Mails in Outlook

Sorting and Grouping e-mails in Outlook is a great way to quickly identify e-mails by Subject, Date, Sender, etc.  Sorting and Grouping e-mails also makes it very easy to view, copy, move and delete e‑mails in large blocks, further streamlining workflow.

Reordering, Adding and Removing Column Fields

The Column Fields are located on the Message Pane which is found beneath the search field and above the first e-mail in the inbox.

By default, Outlook will only display a small portion of the column fields available on the message pane.  You can re-arrange the order of column fields and add or remove column fields to reveal or hide information such as importance, attachments, size, categories, etc.

This is one instance where the location of the Reading Pane can make a difference.  When the Reading Pane is located to the right of the inbox, it restricts that number of columns fields that can be viewed.  By choosing to view the Reading Pane below the inbox, you allow more room for column fields to be viewed.

One simple way of re-arranging the order of column fields is to click a column field with your left mouse.  Then, with your left mouse held down, drag the column field to its new position on the message pane.  You may drag either to the left or the right, but you will need to keep the column field on the same vertical plane as you drag.  The column field will turn black and you will see a red, down arrow that indicates its new position.  Let go of your left mouse to drop the column field in its new position.  You may also remove a column field by dragging it either up or down, effectively deleting it from the message pane.

If you want more control over your column fields, right-click the message pane and select Customize Current View.  The Customize View dialog box will launch.

From the Customize View Dialog box, click the Fields button.  The Show Fields dialog box will launch.

On the right hand side of the Show Fields dialog box, under the “Show these fields in this order”, you will see a list of the column fields currently enabled on the message pane.  On the left hand side of the dialog box, under “Available fields”, you will see a list of column fields than can be added to the message pane. 

To add fields to the message pane, select the field on the left and click the Add button in the middle of the dialog box.  To remove a field from the message pane, click the field on the right and click the Remove button in the middle of the dialog box.  You may also re-arrange the order of the fields currently enabled on the message pane by selecting the field on the right and clicking the Move Up or Move Down buttons to change the order of the field.  Click the OK button when done.

Once you have your column fields arranged to your liking, simply click a column field on the message pane with your left mouse to sort e-mails by that field (To, From, Sent, Received, etc.)  Click once and the e-mails will be shown in ascending order, click again and the e-mails will be shown in descending order.

Viewing E-mails in Groups

Viewing E-mails in Groups is another great way to streamline workflow and manage e-mails.  This differs slightly from simply sorting by a column field.  The beauty of grouping e-mails is that you need only click the main group header to select all the e-mails associated with that group, making it very easy to view, move, copy or delete e-mails in large blocks.

To Enable Grouping in Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013

  • Right-click the Message Pane
  • Click Arrange By from the drop-down menu
  • Click Show in Groups

To disable Grouping simply repeat the same process.  Show in Groups is a “toggle” switch.  Click it once to turn it on, click it again to turn it off.

Once you have Grouping enabled, simply click a column field on the Message Pane and all e-mails included in that field will be grouped with a main header created for each group.  The main header for each group will have either a plus sign or a minus sign beside it and can be expanded or collapsed to show more or less content.  If you want to select the entire group, simply click the main header and all e-mails for that group will be selected.

Next time you need to quickly view, move, copy or delete e-mails in larger blocks, consider these great time saving features in Outlook.

This entry was posted in: MS Outlook Tips.
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