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If I have a folder in MS Outlook called Technology and under technology I have Software and Hardware.

If I setup rules to automatically forward email to Software or Hardware folder, I don't realize they is any unread mail unless I expand the Technology Folder.

I would expect Technology itself to show that there are unread items in its folder structure.

Is there a way to do this?

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It's a shame that MS adds tons of features but ignores such an essential feature that basically breaks using subfolders with filters. – Yaba Sep 15 '11 at 13:05
up vote 21 down vote accepted

I have a partial answer for you that I use to show counts of unread items in sub folders.

This method gives an overall count of ALL unread items; but not a unread count for each sub folder.

You set this up once, and it will keep track with no further input from you.

I have my Outlook window configured to show set up to show the Navigation pane (Alt-F1) like this

alt text

I then create a search folder to count the unread mail, as shown in the next two pictures:

alt text

alt text

This keeps a count of the unread items and will show a list of them. Drag the Unread Mail folder to the Favorites pane within the Navigation Pane so that it is always visible even when the Search Folders is collapsed.

alt text

As a bonus, I find this is a very convenient way to keep track of all FLAGGED items,

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Ahh really nice solution :) +1 and +beer! Even today using Outlook 2010 this still is the only way to do it. – ppumkin Jul 9 '13 at 13:22
Outlook 2013, and STILL this feature isn't implemented. YAY priorities. – MyCodeSucks Sep 18 '13 at 18:46

The only easy way to make Outlook show the Unread count of the Software or Hardware sub-folders, is to move them to the the same level as Inbox, Outbox, and all the other Outlook-supplied folders.

In effect, abolishing the hierarchy is the only solution. The unread count doesn't propagate, and has never done so in any version of Outlook, past or present. Nor does any addon exist that can do so (some such addons may at the most show you alerts for unread mail).

This solution isn't as shocking as it seems, since the only other solution : creating custom search folders, is essentially the same thing. Except that it aggregates all search folders without hierarchy under the "Search Folders" folder, instead of under the root folder.

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You can also create a "Custom Search Folder", similar to what was described above, that looks at each subfolder you want to watch.

Start by creating a Search Folder. Then select the last option , "Create a custom search folder". Name it and click the Criteria button. In the "More Choices" tab, select the checkbox for "Only items that are" and select "unread" in the droplist. Then in the advanced tab, create the custom criteria. This can be teadeous if you have a lot of folders, but it will work. For the "Field" use "In Folder". Set the condition to "IS" and set the Value be the name of the subfolder. If you add a rule for each subfolder you will get a total unread for all subfolders.

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How about instead of using folders, use categories. By all means have one level of folders, but under that the categories will work in the same way (except you wont get that hierarchical treeview on the left). As a bonus, you can assign more than one category to a mail item. Tag and search works better than the traditional filing cabinet approach anyway.

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where can you see categories listed? – leora Nov 14 '09 at 14:16
when you go into any folder, you can set it up to order by category, then collapse all – Nick Nov 19 '09 at 9:29
also, right click on a column header in the inbox grid, click on Field Chooser. you can select category from that list – Nick Nov 20 '09 at 14:12

Let's say you have a Primary Folder named "Accounting Department" then you have subfolders inside with different employees from the Accounting department. For example:

Accounting Department

For Mary, Joe, & Alex you have already set up the rule that if you receive an email from Mary put it in the Mary folder and so on.

The way you get the collapsed folder to show all unread emails amongst your subfolders is by creating a new rule that states: when an email is from Mary; or Joe; or Alex; then put a COPY of the email into folder: Accounting Department.

Thus every time one of your subfolders receive an email a copy gets sent to the primary folder which will keep tally of how many emails. FYI, this is only been tested by me in 2007, but I'm sure it works in the newer ones also.

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