Outlook the way you like with Custom Views

It’s easy to make your own views for email, calendar and contacts and switch between them with Outlook Custom Views. Outlook does not have to look the way it does ‘out of the box’. 

Perhaps you’d prefer a different color scheme for read and unread messages? Maybe with more lines of message preview?

Or a calendar that hides some appointments or reminders that might clutter up the usual display?  We do that to remove medicine reminders and other regular ‘events’ from the regular calendar view.

There are many different options for Outlook to display information.  Those views can be saved and restored whenever you want.

Alas, Outlook views are only in Outlook for Windows (current and many past versions).  Outlook for Mac users (yet again) miss out.

Make an Outlook View

Setup your view with the setting you want then go to View | Change View | Save Current View as a New View.

For an email folder it’s similar

Give the Custom View a name. Make sure the first characters are unique because, as you can see above, the space for view labels is very limited.

Views can be limited to a specific folders or all folders of a type (Email, Calendar, People etc).

View Settings

The easiest way to change a view is to, well, change the view you see on the screen then save it.

Direct changes with more options are at View | View Settings.  Here you can see the many options that make up a view.

Explore those options to see what’s available.  For the moment we’d like to highlight two interesting options, Filter and Conditional Formatting:

Filter – is like an automatic search that’s applied to items in that view.  Show messages from certain people, with keywords and many other options.

Conditional Formatting – ever wondered how Outlook decides to change the look of read vs unread messages?  Welcome to Outlook’s Conditional Formatting.

Change how unread items, expired or overdue messages look.  Or add your own conditions to highlight or downplay certain items.

Manage all Views

View | Change View | Manage Views shows all the views available for that folder.

New – create a new view from the default settings.  It’s usually easier to make the view from the main screen/ribbon then save that view.

Copy – clone an existing view before changing it.

Modify – make changes to the selected view.



Updating a View

You’d think there’s a way to change a view on the main Outlook screen then update the saved version – but no.

Updating a view can only be directly done from View | View Settings then changing via the many dialog boxes.

The alternative is a little clumsy.

  1. Switch to the view you want to change.
  2. Make the changes using the ribbon etc.
  3. Then save the changed view as a new view. View | Change View | Save Current View as a New View.
  4. Delete the old version of the view (optional).
  5. Rename the just created view (optional).

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