Set Outlook to Always Compose Replies in a New Window

In the 2013 version of Microsoft Outlook the reading pane allows you to compose replies within. If you prefer Outlook to behave as it always has, then it’s an easy fix.

In Outlook 2013 the email replies are by default started in the reading pane. While this is great if you are looking for Gmail-like performance, for those who want to write emails like in an new uncluttered window this is more of a roadblock. One way to disable this is to disable the reading pane, but the reading pane can be rather useful. If you’d rather not disable it then there is a simple setting that will allow you to keep it around while making a new window the default for composing replies.

Seen below: The default setting in Outlook allows replies to be composed within the reading pane.

Outlook replies in the reading pane

To turn off the setting open up Outlook options from the File ribbon and then browse to the mail tab. Scroll roughly 30% down the page and you’ll find the checkbox for it labeled “Open replies and forwards in a new window.” Be sure to click OK to save changes and exit.

mail options

Domain Environments

To make this setting the default across the board, there is both a registry fix and a group policy for it. The registry item will not exist by default, however Outlook does automatically add it when changing the setting in Outlook Options. It is found here:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Message\
  • disablereadingpanecompose
  • Hex value: 1

To at a later time enable it again, set the value to 0 to re-enable reading pane replies. If you would rather just download a pre-made version of this key, we have both below:

For group policy the setting can be found in a similar location, except it is under the Policies key. Here:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Message
  • disablereadingpanecompose
  • Hex value: 1

End Result

Once enabled, Outlook will open all replies in a new Compose window. This is the same behavior exhibited by Outlook in versions previous to 2013.

outlook 2013 new compose window



  1. I came across this while researching a post – super helpful! In case anyone comes across this and is looking for the same setting in the Outlook Web App (AKA Outlook Online), I posted about it here:

  2. PJ  

    This does not work for me. There is not a settings icon by my name. The settings icon is above the advertisement in the far right column. When I click on it doesn’t have the list yours shows. It says “Theme” and has a selection of colors. Then “Message Layout”, “Inbox Spacing” and then “Message Tabs” all with options to choose. That’s it. Nothing else. Any help is GREATLY appreciated. I wanna go back and they said it would be easy to…

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