How to add an unread folder to Outlook

Outlook is the email client that people love to hate.

On the one hand, the ubiquity of Outlook can become the bane of your existence especially when it crashes or takes forever to search for emails.  But on the other hand, the sheer popularity of the program requires that we learn to live with it.  Outlook is everywhere.

For most people, Outlook is the nexus of productivity.  Our daily work depends on Outlook for scheduling meetings, interacting with co-workers and interfacing with clients. That’s why today I want to show you a little tip that will squeeze a little more productivity out of your day.  I’m going to show you how to quickly find all your Unread emails in Outlook.

If you’re anything like me, then you probably marshal all your emails in the generic inbox folder.  It’s pretty disorganized but the nice thing is that unread emails simply float to the top like ice in a cool drink.

But what happens if you have more than one folder?  Most people I know have dozens (one secretary I knew had hundreds) of sub-folders for almost any category you can think of. Each folder has it’s own list of unread emails so delving into the folder pile looking for new emails doesn’t seem feasible.  Is there a way to sift out your untouched messages?  Maybe by collecting them in a special folder or something?

In Outlook 2013 you can simply select your email address in the left pane and then click the Unread link directly under the search box in the right pane.  But the story isn’t so happily-ever-after for Outlook 2010.

I actually hate the Outlook 2013 user interface because everything is flat.  It’s hard to discern text boxes from buttons because both screen elements lack depth.  What ever happened to the 3D beveled buttons of Windows 95?  Haha, okay I’m feeling nostalgic for stupid reasons.

Grouping Unread Messages in Outlook

There’s actually a little known trick that will consolidate all your emails into one tidy little folder aptly called unread.  It’ll appear in the left pane next to your existing folders near the bottom of the folder list.

This tip works in both Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010 but it’s more relevant for Outlook 2010 since only Outlook 2013 has that convenient Unread button.

To pull this off, we just need to make a new search folder.  This is a special folder whose contents is determined by criteria we specify.  So for example, we can tell the folder to display only messages sent directly to me, messages with attachments or messages sent from a specific sender.

You didn’t know Outlook was so nimble did ya?  lol.

Check this out:

Open Outlook and press Shift+ Alt + p.

Adding a new Search Folder to Outlook 2013

A New Search Folder dialog box should pop onto the screen.

Select Unread email from the list, click OK and then check out the Unread Mail folder in the bottom left corner of Outlook.

Unread Mail Search Folders in Outlook

Now all your unread messages will magically pop into this folder.

Gotta love it.


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Posted in Outlook, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: ,
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  • TonyC

    Now we just need some way to gather all unread mail from ALL accounts into one folder. Free Apple Mail does it on a Mac, why can’t a pricey program like Outlook 2013 do something so simple???

    • KC Ryan

      You are able to add the Unread Email folder with this option in running Windows 8.1 by clicking on the Search Folders (very bottom left) within the column that has all your folders listed. Right-click and select “New Search Folder”, then find “Unread Mail” under the “Reading Email” section. i would suggest right-clicking on the folder and adding it to favorites if your folder creation gets a little overwhelming. Creating Rules will help with the organization, and the Unread Mail folder will help making sure things do not get missed.

    • TonyC

      I did a workaround by creating a search folder in each account for unread. I then renamed it to the account name (e.g. TonyC Unread) then added it to favorites. At least I can see the unread messages for each account in one place, at the top of the sidebar.

    • Steve Gordon