Mark a message as read or unread

In your Inbox, unread messages have bold titles. After you click on a message, and then click on something else, the message title is no longer bold, indicating that it has been read.

You can toggle a message status from read to unread and back again.

  • Right-click the message, and then click Mark as Read or Mark as Unread. Or press Ctrl+Q to mark it as read or Ctrl+U to mark it as unread.

    Tip: To mark several messages as either read or unread at once, click the first message, hold down Ctrl, click the other messages, and then select the option you want.

Mark all messages in a folder as read or unread

You can quickly mark all the messages in a folder as read or unread.

  1. In the folder pane, click the folder.

    Note: You can only select one folder at a time.

  2. Click any email in the list of messages, and then press Ctrl+A to select everything in the folder.

  3. Right-click the selected messages and then click Mark as Read or Mark as Unread. Or press Ctrl+Q to mark the messages as read or Ctrl+U to mark them as unread.

Change how and when messages are marked as read

By default, Outlook marks a message as read when you select the message and display it in the Reading pane. If you want to disable that behavior, use the following steps.

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.

    File > Options > Advanced

  2. Under Outlook panes, click Reading Pane.

    You can change the Reading Pane options.

  3. Uncheck the boxes for Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane  and Mark item as read when the selection changes.

  4. Click OK twice to return to Outlook.

Automatically mark messages as read when deleted

If you're an Office Insider and your Deleted Items folder shows that you have unread items, there's now a quick fix to make sure all deleted messages are marked as read.

  1. Select File > Options > Mail.  In the Other section, check Mark messages as read when deleted.

    Mail options with Mark as read when deleted highlighted

Change how quickly messages are marked as read

If you want, you can slow down how quickly messages get marked as read. For example, after you click on a message, you can have Outlook wait 30 seconds before marking it as read.

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.

    File > Options > Advanced

  2. Under Outlook panes, click Reading Pane.

    You can change the Reading Pane options.

  3. Select the Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane check box.

  4. In the Wait n seconds before marking item as read box, type how many seconds you want to wait between when you click a message in the Reading Pane and it appears marked as read.

Manually mark messages as read or unread

  1. Select the messages you want to change.

  2. How?

    • To select adjacent items, click the first item, and then hold down SHIFT and click the last item.

    • To select nonadjacent items, click the first item, and then hold down CTRL and click additional items.

    • To select all items, on the Edit menu, click Select All.

      Note: Changing the view for items can make selecting specific items easier. For instance, if you want to select all messages that have the same subject, in the folder containing the messages, click View, point to Arrange By, and then click Conversation. Select the messages you want from the view.

    On the Edit menu, do one of the following:

    • To mark a message as read, click Mark as Read.

    • To mark a message as unread, click Mark as Unread.

    • Mark all the messages in a folder, click Mark All as Read.

Note: If you mark a replied to or forwarded message as unread, the message symbol continues to display as an open envelope. However, it is still considered unread for sorting, grouping, or filtering.

Automatically mark messages as read in the Reading Pane

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Other tab.

  2. Click Reading Pane.

  3. Select the Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane check box, and then type a number in the Wait n seconds before marking item as read box.

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