Keep Outlook Emails as Unread until after you actually read them

By standss Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

For big parts of my day my Outlook Inbox is where I work. I read many of my emails in the Outlook reading pane (the preview of the email while I am still in my Inbox). I also use the fact that unread emails still need some action from me. The problem is that as I step through emails, they get marked as having been read, even though I may not have actually read them.

Here’s a setting that one of my team member (Thank you Anand) pointed out to me that you can quickly change… now Outlook will only mark an email as read if you’ve spent a minimum time on it.

I’ve set mine to 5 seconds. That way if I am on an email for less than 5 seconds it stays unread. Anything longer than 5 seconds and Outlook assumes that I have read the email. You can use any time setting that fits the way you work.

For Outlook 2010:

  • Click on File > Options
  • Click on Mail from the left side column
  • Click on the Reading Pane button on the right
  • On the Reading Pane dailog box, tick the checkbox for “Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane
  • Enter a time in the box beside “Wait XX seconds before making item as read”
  • Click OK and than OK again

For Outlook 2007/2003:

  • Click Tools on the menu > Options…
  • Click the Other tab
  • Click on the Reading Pane… button
  • On the Reading Pane dailog box, tick the checkbox for “Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane
  • Enter a time in the box beside “Wait XX seconds before making item as read”
  • Click OK and than OK again

I hope that this little tip makes your life in Outlook a little bit easier.

Categories : Outlook Email Tips

8 thoughts on “Keep Outlook Emails as Unread until after you actually read them

  1. My users are encouraged not to use Preview Pane. Many of today’s virus’ and malware are now smart enought to execute by sensing preview Pane. The risk is just not worth it.

  2. Thank you! Had hard drive replaced & could not figure out how to keep messages from being read as I scrolled through them. A++

  3. Thanks for the information about how to keep outlook emails as unread until I actually read them.
    I discovered a correction to the settings you recommended.

    For Outlook 2007/2003:
    Click Tools on the menu > Options…
    Click the Other tab
    Click on the Reading Pane… button
    On the Reading Pane dailog box, UNCHECK the checkbox for “Mark item as read when selection changes“
    Click OK and than OK again

  4. THANKS! I got a new computer, and this was driving me crazy. Am SO glad to be able to leave my unread messages showing as unread. Much appreciated!!

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