Managing Unread Messages in Outlook 2011 for Mac

In this screencast, I share how to create a Smart Folder to manage unread email messages in Microsoft Outlook 2011 for Mac.

  1. November 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    thanks! very helpful!

    Like

  2. Dennis Smith
    February 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hi there. Very informational video. However I have another request. Is there a way to tell Outlook 2011 to not mark message as “unread” when they appear in my “Sent” and “Deleted” folders? It seems that whenever I send an email, or delete an email, that email shows as unread in their respective folders. It’s just a bit annoying, and if there is a way to control it, I would love you know about it.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dennis Smith

    Like

    • February 3, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Sorry, this appears to be a “feature” at the current time. You may try experimenting with the rules and see if there is a way for it to not show messages from these folders until Microsoft implements an Unread messages folder similar to what is available on the PC side.

      Like

  3. kelly
    February 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Hi, when you create this smart folder for unread messages, are they removed from the inbox folder or are they there as well?

    Like

    • February 3, 2011 at 7:34 am

      Smart folders are virtual folders so the real messages remain in the inbox.

      Like

  4. February 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Just what I was looking for, thanks!

    Like

  5. Christian
    April 6, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Thank you VERY much!
    I just installes Mac Office 2011 and fpound it annoying that there was no “unread” folder

    Nut now there is!

    10000 thanks

    Christian

    Like

  6. Mick Tyson
    April 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    how do i create a second email account in outlook for mac 2011 without it merging with the default inbox. in entourage i could switch between accounts and therefore it was like having 2 programs. in outlook for pc i could also do as with entourage. thanks.

    Like

  7. John Hale
    May 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Just what I was hoping to find. Many thanks.

    Like

  8. Lance Evans
    May 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    What a great service! You solved the issue very easily. Thanks.

    Like

  9. James Green
    May 26, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Thank You! This was very helpful.

    Like

  10. jo
    June 7, 2011 at 3:57 am

    that was awesome – you will save me so much time and hassle! Thank you!

    Like

  11. July 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Really clear. Thank you very much.

    Like

  12. Andrew
    July 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Why not just click the ‘Unread’ button – see it at 2.17′ underneath ther ‘Important ‘ button

    Like

    • July 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

      I’m always looking for easier ways to do things. Can you give me more details on your solution. I’m not seeing the Unread button or the Important button. Thanks!

      Like

    • Bryan
      February 18, 2013 at 5:53 am

      That button turns the status of a read message to unread. It doesn’t show unread messages. “Mark Unread” would have been a better label.

      Like

  13. Dennis
    August 8, 2011 at 6:13 am

    No Kidding. This was very helpful. Thank you.

    Like

  14. Scott
    August 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Very Very interesting and quite useful.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that a behavior I liked in the past was when I had a rule that moved a mail item into a folder, I could go to that folder, read it, and when I wanted to reply, the reply STAYED in the folder so I could see the thread(s) from where I originated the reply from.

    Would you happen to know how I can re-enable this behavior?

    Like

    • August 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks, this sounds like a cool feature. I don’t remember seeing it in other versions of Outlook that I have worked with. It sounds like something you may be able to set up a rule to do. I wonder if this was a default setting in your old email program that you now have to choose to set in Outlook 2011. Let me know if you figure something out.
      Thanks,
      David

      Like

      • Rick
        August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        This is a very old thread, but saving replies/forwards with the original in folders other than the inbox has been a function of Outlook for as long as I can remember. I’ve used Office for a long time, Windows, Mac/Entourage. This version doesn’t seem to have that (at least I can’t find it).

        Like

  15. August 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Believe it or not, I just used my own video to set up an Unread folder on a new computer. I had forgotten how it was done. Ha!

    Like

  16. Lasse
    August 26, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Perfect! Thanks a lot…

    Like

  17. Blake
    August 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    David, I work at a K-8 school and we’re moving from Office2004 to 2011. Any pointers on how to set things up properly so messages appear in the SENT folder? I’ve just moved the first two users at my school to Office11 (imap) and alas, the sent folder is completely empty. I can mess with the filters a bit and see the sent items appear but they are gone if I click off of the sent box and then return back to it. I can also go to: Outlook, preferences, accounts, advanced, folders, sent, store sent messages in this folder, choose…Then choose your sent folder for the account. However, this only seems to work from the time I make the change onward…and then the sent item appears as unread. Perhaps if this is changed at the time the account is imported it will save all sent items there. So, after reading some of your work I’ve decided that you’re the guy smart enough to save me this time. 🙂 I know this isn’t quite the specific thread or forum for this but I thought I’d throw it out there…

    Like

  18. August 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Blake,

    It sounds like you are on the Systems side of the school. Or maybe a teacher doing double duty. I appreciate all you folks do to help us educators use technology. I wish I could help you out but I’m only a simple user of Outlook. I don’t know how to migrate a system like this for a whole school. I do have friends at Microsoft I can pass your question on to. I will email and ask them for help.

    Thanks,

    David

    Like

  19. August 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Blake

    You might explore this website for a forum to ask your question: http://www.microsoft.com/education/ww/leadership/partnerships/pil/pages/index.aspx

    Thanks,

    David

    Like

  20. Katherine
    September 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Thank you! this is helpful. I am feeling very slow these days, as just moving to a Mac from being a longtime PC user. I am setting up an unread folder; however, is there a way to read a message and then mark it as unread? Sometimes I’ll read an email and realize that I need to read it later when I have more time… and use unread mail for just this reason.

    -Katherine

    Like

    • September 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      Glad to hear that the video was helpful. I also mark messages I need to return to as unread as part of a triage process. There are a couple of ways to do this. One option, you can Control-Click on a message and choose Unread from the list of options. Another option, with the message selected, choose the Unread button from the Ribbon menu. Hope this helps.

      Like

  21. Katherine
    September 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Thank you! Like everything else I’ve learned over the past couple of days – I feel like a fool once I see how to do something. I really appreciate your insights (and not making fun of my slowness. :))

    -Katherine

    Like

  22. ekoli
    October 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    thanks for this!

    Like

  23. Neil
    October 24, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Very helpful. I am having an issue where I am seeing that I have x number of unread messages in Outlook, but I do not see them unless I specifically search for unread messages. I am accessing these messages through a pop connection with gmail. Any ideas?

    Like

    • October 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      Sorry I don’t have experience using Outlook with gmail.

      Like

  24. Marcus Ferrari
    December 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Nice one!

    thanks for saving me time!

    Like

  25. January 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

    thanks for all the knowledge here. I, too, am BACK with a Mac after a lengthy hiatus w/PC’s. One feature I’ve not been able to duplicate, was also mentioned above but I don’t see it was answered is this: In outlook 2010 for PC I was able to click a feature under Outlook properties that kept replies to an email in the same folder as the originating email w/out needing to set up a specific rule for that. I haven’t found that same feature in 2011. any clues??? it’s a pain to schedule rules FOR ALL i have to reply to that I want to be saved in the same folder as the original email. thanks in advance

    Like

    • January 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Sorry Gael, I don’t have an answer for you. Hopefully someone else will read your post and share a solution with us.

      Like

  26. Christian
    January 30, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Very helpful, thanks!

    One thing I’m still trying to figure out is how to select all messages in a group by clicking the header. Outlook 2011 won’t let me click the group header the same way as Entourage or Outlook for Windows. For example, if the view is arranged by “Date Received” and “Show in Groups”, clicking on the group header “Today” will select all mail in that group. Or if arranged by “From” and “Show in Groups”, I can easily select [and delete] all mail from a particular sender.

    Does anyone know a solution or workaround for this?

    Thanks,
    Christian

    Like

    • January 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Hi Christian,

      I miss this feature too. I don’t have a workaround for you. I hope it is available in the upcoming version, whenever that comes out.

      All the best,

      David

      Like

      • Christian
        January 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

        I found the workaround! Click on the header, drag it a little and it will select all messages in the group.

        – Christian

        Like

        • January 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

          Nice work! Thanks!

          Like

        • Danielle
          September 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

          Awesome – this is what I was looking for too. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, etc that end up sitting in my inbox unread, and would rather just delete them in one fell swoop. This is the tool I needed! Funny how even in looking up in Outlook help and googling ‘mass delete unread emails outlook for mac’ I couldn’t find the answer

          Like

        • February 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm

          Thank you SOOO much! that has been driving me crazy

          Like

  27. Francesco Lopresti
    January 31, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Thank you David,
    you have been very helpful! I just bought a Mac and I am going crazy searching for the simplest thing.
    Take care.
    Francesco

    Like

    • January 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Hang in there. It will get better soon. Lots of positives to go with negatives.

      Like

  28. Randy Lee
    February 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you very much! Very helpful!

    Like

  29. ssm
    February 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you so much! i have been stumped for months trying to figure out how to delete all these unread messages at the same time!

    Like

    • February 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Glad you found the video useful and took the time to let me know. 🙂

      Like

  30. Brian
    May 1, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Brilliant. Thank you!!

    Like

  31. Steve
    May 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Perfect…just what I was looking for…now if anyone knows how to make unread mail in Outlook 2011 for Mac look bolder or even better give me the ability to change the color of unread mail…..that would be something……does anyone know if this is possible

    Like

    • tim koers
      May 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Steve – that’s the same thing I’m trying to do – I have a privacy screen on my MBPro and it makes it very hard to see the bolded (unread) messages from the bold ones. If you find out, please reply here. Thanks

      Like

      • Steve Wood
        May 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm

        Well I have found a way to change the light blue unread envelope into any color you wish so that it really stand out which I have found really helpful. I have also used a smart folder that I have name unread and it only keeps unread mail…..this too is a very helpful feature

        Like

  32. Steve
    June 28, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hi – have you found a way to have the smart folders show the number of messages that match the query?

    Taking your example the smart folder shows the unread messages but you can’t see with a quick glance how many unread messages there are without going in to the folder. I use smart folders extensively but this is driving me nuts because it doesn’t work the same as Outlook on Windows. – Thanks S

    Like

    • June 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Hi S,

      No I haven’t but it would be very helpful. Are you listening Microsoft?

      Thanks,

      David

      Like

  33. Steve Wood
    August 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Hello David…Steve here……what is the easiest way to save my outlook 2011 for mac mail in my dropbox folders…..in Entourage is was easy to navigate right to the folder i wanted to save the mail using right click but now in outlook 2011 I have to manually navigate from folder to folder and then let go of the mouse to save……..time consuming…is there a short cuy….thank you

    Like

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Steve,

      I don’t know the answer to this question. Anyone else?

      Thanks,

      David

      Like

  34. August 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Can you move the unread smart folder to the top folder in views? Its a chore to scroll down to the smart folders and click it. In 2007, the Unread folder was right on top.

    Like

    • August 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Lewis,

      I haven’t figured out a way to do this. Maybe someone else watching this thread can let us know if they have figured it out.

      Thanks,

      David

      Like

  35. Mo
    September 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

    how could i make outlook groups always in a collapse position, i tried going collapsing the group and save this as my default view but with no luck.

    Like

    • September 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Hamed,

      I don’t have an answer for you but maybe someone looking through this list of comments does.

      Thanks,

      David

      Like

      • Hamed
        September 14, 2012 at 12:59 am

        But is it a comman issue with all outlook 2011 users, or Just me?

        Like

        • September 14, 2012 at 6:51 am

          By groups I assume you are referring to groups of conversation messages in the inbox. Mine are collapsed as a default. I tried changing settings to alter this. The only one that seems to make them expand automatically is if I don’t have a reading pane. You can change that setting under the view menu.

          Like

  36. October 4, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Thank you so much I had a couple unread messages that were driving me insane as I could not locate them before now!

    Like

    • October 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

      Hi Sanghee,

      I’m glad you found the video useful.

      David

      Like

  37. Neil
    October 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Just migrated from PC to iMac.

    I was looking for just that, very useful – thanks.

    Neil

    Like

  38. October 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Useful — thanks

    Like

  39. Lisa
    November 6, 2012 at 6:28 am

    This worked great but I have one problem – when I read something and then mark it as unread so that I can come back to it later, the unread folder does not always recognize it. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it does not. I also occasionally have problems with it picking up mail that is sorted into folders besides the inbox. Do you have suggestions?

    Like

    • November 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      I have not seen this problem. Do you view your messages from another device? I wonder if you might be marking these messages as read when viewing them on a phone or tablet.

      Like

      • Aldo
        September 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        Hi there I am having the same issue as Lisa. My Smart folder shows 22 Unread and my Inbox has 24 – When I open a email and then go back and mark it as unread it is not recognized in the smart folder nor sort function for unread. Do you have any suggestions. Yes I do use a iphone t check mail, but in this test i have not used it – only used mac book and still does not recognize. Please help.

        Like

  40. ND
    February 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Is there a way to filter unread messages just from the inbox vs. all folders? When using the recommended method I got also all the unread messages from the deleted items and all other folders

    Like

    • February 12, 2013 at 8:36 am

      I don’t know how to do this. As a work around I empty the deleted items and junk mail folders before checking the unread messages folder.

      Like

  41. February 19, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I use email in many of the ways you do. This was very helpful and useful. Thank you very much. I use it all the time now.

    Like

    • February 19, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Tom. I am glad to know that the video was useful for you.

      Like

  42. Tony V
    March 9, 2013 at 3:22 am

    Hi David, on my outlook for mac i have 12 unread messages in the deleted folder which are not there/hidden – the same applies to 2 messages in the junk folder which when you open the folder are not there. Any ideas? Thanks TonyV

    Like

  43. Howard
    August 20, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Hi David,

    My ‘save folder’ is greyed out and will not allow me to save the ‘unread’ messages to a folder….smart folder that is…any suggestions? Tks, Howard

    Like

  44. Aaron
    September 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Finally moved to Outlook 2011 after sticking with Entourage 2004 for ages (upgrading to Mountain Lion necessitated this). Not sure I can handle Outlook’s ugliness! The fact that to neatly see unread messages — a given need for even a beta version of an email client — you have to make a smart folder and navigate to the bottom of the screen, and this ‘smart folder’ being a generalized folder and thus rendering useless all your separate rule-based folders… big step back! Why the @#$# didn’t they just keep Entourage’s ability to have each folder have persistent filtering?! [rant over]

    Like

  45. Lunte
    October 2, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Thank you so much this helps.

    Like

  46. Ana
    December 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Hi, thank you for your video. Do you know if it is possible to make the bold unread messages more bold? I mean, is it possible to make the difference between read and unread messages more evident? I can barely distinguish read from unread messages… thank you in advance.

    Like

  47. February 12, 2014 at 7:41 am

    David,

    Great video and information. I have a question on how to get the unopened envelope on unread messages in the inbox. I use a pc and this is not a problem however my wife uses a mac and we cannot get the envelope in the inbox.

    Like

  48. Juan
    February 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks ! Great help.

    Like

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