Skip to content
OIT_Knowledge_Base

When I click on messages in my Outlook Inbox, Outlook marks them as unread even though I haven't read them yet. How can I fix this?

Print Friendly and PDF

When you click on a message in your Inbox in Outlook, Outlook treats the message as though you have read it because of the reading pane feature.  The reading pane allows you to preview the message on the screen without actually opening it.  Since you can see the message in the reading pane, Outlook behaves as though you have read it if you click on it in your Inbox list.

If you would like to disable the reading pane settings in Outlook 2013/2016 that are causing unread messages to be marked as read, you may take these steps:

(1)  In Outlook, click on the File tab.

(2)  On the left side of the screen, choose Options.

(3)  A window called Outlook Options will open.  In the left-hand menu, choose Mail.

(4)  Under the Outlook panes section, click the Reading Pane button.

(5)  Uncheck all three of the options in the Reading Pane window that opens, then click OK.

(6)  Click OK to close the Outlook Options window.

Outlook should now treat all messages as unread unless you open them with a double-click.

If you prefer not to disable the reading pane settings as described, you can still mark a message as unread if Outlook treats it as though you have read it.  To mark an individual message as unread, perform a right-click on the message in your Inbox list and choose Mark as Unread.  The sender, subject line, and other information about the message will appear in bold print again.

Need more help?

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.