7. Organizing Emails

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Create an organized and clutter free view your mailboxes by collapsing multiple emails into conversations and rearranging mailboxes by sorting and grouping emails.


Lesson Goal

Organize our emails and folders.


With conversations disabled, each separate email takes up its own spot in the mailbox pane. If we go to the View tab and check the box next to “Show as Conversations”, we change how the mailbox pane organizes emails. Now, all emails within the same email chain are grouped together.

We can expand or collapse these conversations and when expanded, we can even see emails we sent. With Conversations disabled, these can only be viewed in the Sent Items folder.

Organizing emails as Conversations is generally good practice as it helps to declutter our folders.

Organizing columns

If you look at the top of the mailbox pane, you’ll see that the emails are organised by columns. They include essential information such as the subject and date received, but also show us additional information such as size, whether or not the email contains an attachment, and importance.

By clicking on any of these columns, we can sort our emails according to that column. By default Outlook sorts by the Received column by descending order. This means that the newest emails appear at the top.

If we click on the attachment column (indicated by a paperclip symbol) we’ll sort by attachment in descending order. This means emails with attachments will appear at the top and emails without attachments will appear below.

We can also add and remove columns by right clicking in an empty space in the mailbox pane and selecting Add Columns. This opens the Show Columns window. To the right we have columns currently visible in the mailbox pane and to the right we have additional columns which we can choose to add to the mailbox pane. We can move columns between these boxes with the Add and Remove buttons.

Grouping emails

We can assign our emails to groups if we select the View Settings command, click Group By and click OK. If your mailbox is sorted by date received, you’ll now see that your emails are separated into different groups. More recent emails are grouped by day. Older ones by week, month and year and so on.

Outlook can assign different groups based on the column being used to sort. For example, if we click the Importance column, are emails will be segregated into High, Medium, and Low importance.


Handling a large volume of emails can be tedious and take a lot of time. Structuring and maintaining your email folders is a great way of improving your productivity.

In this lesson, we'll organize our emails and folders. To start, we'll look at how Outlook groups emails into conversations. In the current view, I have quite a lot of emails that fill up the mailbox pane.

This looks messy and disorganized. Upon a closer look, we can see that many of the emails share the same subject.

This is because these emails are part of a single conversation.

In other words, they're a series of back-and-forth replies all stemming from a single email.

We can drastically clean up our mailbox pane by grouping conversations. We'll navigate to the View tab, click the Show as Conversations box and apply to all mailboxes.

This instantly groups all emails in the same conversation to just one item in the mailbox pane.

We can expand this item with the arrow symbol to the left.

Note that this expanded view also shows a preview of the emails we sent. Without conversations enabled, we could only see these by going to the Sent Items folder.

We can also free up space in the mailbox by reducing the email preview.

I have the preview set to show the first three lines of an email.

We can change this by navigating to the Message's Preview dropdown command and choosing a smaller preview.

I'll change this back to one line.

Decluttering our view isn't the only thing we can do to make our mailbox more organized or even more personalized.

We can also sort our inbox according to our columns.

At present, it doesn't appear as though we have any columns. This is because they've been minimized due to the small size of the mailbox pane. If we expand the mailbox pane, we can see that a series of columns appear at the top.

By default, the inbox is sorted by date with the newest emails at the top.

This is often the most efficient setting but it can be useful to sort by a different column in certain circumstances.

For example, if we're running out of storage space, we can sort by size and delete some of the emails with very large attachments.

We can also add new columns by navigating to the View tab, and selecting the Add Columns command.

On the right side of this window, we can see the columns that we currently use.

On the left, we can see columns that are available to us.

I don't use the Mention column, so I'll select it and remove it from my mailbox pane.

Fetch Cuisine uses the sensitivity feature quite often, so I'll select that and add it.

I'll also add CC. This includes the names of recipients who are in the CC field.

If I see my name in this column, it means I received this email as a carbon copy, not as a direct recipient.

We'll press OK to accept the changes.

We can also group our emails in the mailbox pane.

This makes it much easier to make sense of our inbox at a glance.

To enable this, we'll navigate to the View tab again, select View Setting, then Group By and ensure that the box next to Automatically group according to arrangement is selected.

We can manually create more complex groupings but the use cases are limited so we'll stick with Outlook's automatic grouping.

Note that this has created a few horizontal headings in my mailbox splitting emails into separate groups.

More recent emails are grouped by day but older emails are grouped by week.

If we click the paperclip to sort by attachments, our emails are split into two groups, one for emails containing attachments and one for emails without attachments.

As mentioned before, sorting by date often makes the most sense so we'll click the Received column.

Now that we've reviewed the different methods of organizing our inbox, we'll stop the lesson here. In the next lesson, we'll learn about categorizing and flagging emails.

Sending and Organizing Emails


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