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How To Change The Default Reading Pane Location In Outlook 2010 And Make Emails Easier To Read

Make Outlook 2010 Easier To Read

One of my favorite things about Microsoft Outlook is being able to quickly go through all of my inbox emails while reading them simultaneously on the same screen.  But, with the default Outlook settings this same feature is a huge burden to anyone on a laptop or screen that is less than 22 inches.  In this guide we’ll go over just a few minor changes to the interface in Outlook 2010 to get rid of distractions and free up screen space.

By default, the Reading Pane in Outlook is located directly below your inbox contents.  As shown in the screen shot below, this doesn’t give you much room to read your emails or really anything else – it’s cramped!

outlook 2010 default email pane

How To Change The Outlook Reading Pane Location And Free Up The Screen

Step 1

In Outlook 2010, Click the View ribbon in Outlook 2010 and then Click the Reading Pane button.  A drop list will appear with 3 options.*

  • Right
  • Bottom (default)
  • Off

For this guide we’ll assume you’re on a widescreen device, which in that case Choose Right.

Should you choose Off the reading pane would disappear completely, and that is kind of a bummer because it means that all emails will have to be opened in a completely new window by manually double-clicking each item in your inbox.

*There is also an Options… item on the list that will give you access to some unrelated settings.

view email reading pane setting outlook

Step 2

At the bottom-right corner of Outlook you will see two buttons and a zoom slider-bar.  The button on the right that looks like an open book is the Reading mode button, the other one that looks like a spreadsheet is the Normal mode button.

Click the Reading button.

normal mode vs reading mode outlook


Outlook should now be much easier to read!  The reading pane will be on the right, which on most modern displays takes advantage of the widescreen resolution.  The side menus and ribbon should now also be minimized.  When compared to the screen shot at the beginning of this article, the one below with these two adjusted settings allows you to read your emails much more efficiently.

When you are done reading emails just Click the Normal mode button at the bottom to return everything to the way it was.

Outlook 2010 reading pane view emails

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5 Responses to How To Change The Default Reading Pane Location In Outlook 2010 And Make Emails Easier To Read

  1. Leon June 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Yes, but what is the shortcut keys for switching between Normal and Reading mode?

  2. Brian December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    This did not answer the question as to how to make the right side reading pane the “default” reading pane. When I close Outlook and then reopen it, the reading pane ends up under the e-mail list as it had. I cannot find anywhere in the Outlook instructions where it allows me to actually PERMANENTLY change it to the right. When I try the section on the ‘options’, ‘customize ribbon’ and under Main Tabs expand View and then expand Layout, the Reading Pane choice is greyed out.

  3. Scott March 20, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Same here!

  4. Brian March 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Unfortunately this still doesn’t fix the issue with Outlook resetting to the default mode after being closed and then re-opened. I am hoping that somewhere out there in cyberspace, someone has an answer to this issue.

  5. Karen May 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    I have the same exact problem, how do you save the reading pane so you don’t have to set it every time you open Outlook?

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