How to Adjust Outlook Mark Items as Read Timer

Outlook is set to mark a message as read immediately after switching to a new one. But you might want more time to read through it first, here’s how.

By default, Outlook is set to mark a message as read immediately after switching to the next one. Microsoft knows that everyone likes to manage their inbox differently, so it included a nice feature that allows you to set how long you need to sit on an email before it’s marked as read. Whatever your situation, you can adjust the read timer to whatever works for your inbox by following the simple steps below in Outlook 2016 or above.

Adjust Outlook Mark as Read Timer

Click the File tab on the ribbon and then select Options.

Next, in the Outlook Options window, select Mail in the right pane, scroll down to the Outlook panes section and click the Reading Pane button.

Reading Pane

There you will find that the default selection is set to Mark item as read when selection changes. To set your own custom time, check the box next to Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane. Then enter the number of seconds you want Outlook to wait before marking the item as read. Then click OK and OK again to close out of the Outlook Options window.

When you read an email, Outlook will wait for the amount of time you entered before marking it as read.

If there are messages that you would prefer to be marked as read more quickly, you can manually select them. Just right-click on the message and select Mark as Read from the context menu.

mark as read

Note that you can also set messages that are already marked as read to unread from the context menu. Also, you can select multiple messages at once by holding Shift or Ctrl and click the ones you want to mark as read or unread.

mark as unread

If you are still running Outlook 2010, check out our article on adjusting the “mark as read” timer in our article here.

What’s your take? Do you stick with the Outlook defaults, or do you like to customize Outlook settings? Tell us about your favorite hacks in the comments!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Tucker

    Is there a way to automatically mark emails as read after a certain time, even if not viewed in the reading pane? My problem is when I receive multiple emails at the same time, only one is actually active\highlighted, so only that one gets marked as read. The others are all “unread” until they are selected. I would like all emails to be marked as read after a certain period of time regardless of whether or not they are in the reading pane.


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