Can someone describe to me, step by step, what I would need to do in order to change the default Outlook "Mark as Read" behavior?

Default Behavior: Outlook marks a message as read when It has appeared in the viewing pane and I move to another message.

Desired Behavior: Outlook marks a message as read as soon as it appears in the viewing pane.

  • 13
    +1, I was just about to ask the same question. Can anyone tell why the default behavior is the way it is. I just can't find a use case where this is the desired behavior.
    – Laserallan
    Oct 7, 2010 at 10:00
  • 3
    @Laserallan: I have forwarded your question to the people who know about these things.
    – Heinzi
    May 18, 2016 at 15:07

8 Answers 8


It took me a few minutes to figure it out in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2016 - once you get to the Reading Pane options, it's the same as squillman's answer.

  1. Go to FileOptionsAdvanced.

  2. In the Outlook panes section, click Reading Pane...

    The Outlook Options dialog

  3. Check Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane and set an interval in seconds before it kicks in.

    The Reading Pane dialog

Note: In Outlook 2016, the same dialog is also available in the ribbon under View → Reading Pane → Options....

  • 38
    The wait interval can be set to zero seconds.
    – Keyslinger
    Jul 25, 2014 at 20:35
  • 11
    Setting to 0 seconds results in instantaneous marking as read, as opposed some other settings configurators where 0 means the setting is ignored.
    – Paul
    Nov 11, 2014 at 18:08

For Outlook 2007:

  1. Go to Tools | Options and click the Other tab
  2. Click the Reading Pane... button under Outlook Panes
  3. Put a check the Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane and set an interval in seconds before it kicks in.

It's the same for Outlook 2003, except that in step 2 the section on the Other tab is called "Reading Pane" instead of "Outlook Panes".


In Outlook for Mac (OS X) version 15 (2016)

Select Menu Bar -> Outlook -> Preferences -> Reading -> select Mark mail as read when viewed in the reading pane


In MS Outlook Web App for Office 365:

  • Settings | Mail | Mark as read
  • Mark displayed items as read as soon as they are selected
  • Save

This behavior is similar to the one described by @Keyslinger and @Paul in comments above. Added as an answer to OP for those who were searching for the help with the Outlook web application, as I was.

  • 1
    Welcome to Super User. Web applications are off-topic, and this post duplicates existing suggestions, so at best, it should be posted as supplemental information in a comment. Answers are reserved for solutions to what was asked in the question, and each answer is intended to provide a substantively different solution than those already contributed. Comments require a little more rep.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 7, 2016 at 16:03

reading pane

In Outlook 2016 (I assume it is the same for earlier versions), un-checking both "Mark item" options will leave the message as unread until you manually mark it as read or take some other kind of action. This is useful if you want to keep messages unread until you reply.

I wanted to be able to set up individual mail folders with different reading pane options and could never figure it out. In the end, it's really just as easy to set up a shortcut key in Quick Steps to mark something as "read" and configure your reading pane options as shown. This gives you more control IMO.

  • For me all those are disabled, so I can uncheck only last one Dec 10, 2018 at 12:34

I was confused that the option reading Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane wouldn't allow for it to simply Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane without specifying a delay (setting 0 disables the option) — it turns out that selecting Mark item as read when selection changes has the desired affect.

  • 3
    -1 Selecting Mark item as read when selection changes marks the message as read only when you switch messages. This is the default option the OP is trying to avoid. Jul 25, 2013 at 14:45

just unclick all of the boxes in the Reading Pane Options and it will only show up as read when you double click to open the email.

  • OP has asked for details your answer is like a comment
    – yass
    May 19, 2017 at 20:06

I was able to create a Quick Step. if you have the latest version of Outlook (Exchange) Home Tab-> Quick Steps-> Pull Down Menu-> New Quick Step-> Move to Folder-> Name as Desired -> Choose Folder (Deleted) -> Ensure "Mark as Read" is selected

  • 1
    This does not answer the original question.
    – Burgi
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.