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Mail in Outlook Web App

Note: If you want to specify whether to use the standard or light version of Outlook Web App, see Options>Outlook Web App version. The light version of Outlook Web App is designed for use with older web browsers that are not supported by the standard version of Outlook Web App, over slow connections, and to meet accessibility needs by providing a simplified interface that’s easier to use with screen readers.

When you open Outlook Web App, your Inbox is the first thing you see. Your Inbox is where messages sent to you arrive, and where you’ll probably spend the most time reading and responding to messages.

Important: If you’re on a mobile device, for the best experience we recommend that you install the latest Microsoft app for your device: Outlook for iOS or Outlook for Android.

In this article

Sign in to Outlook Web App

What you’ll see in Mail

Create a new message

Working with drafts

Reading Pane

Open a message in a separate window

Deleted messages

Folder list

Message list

Junk email folder

Search and built-in filters

Using Outlook Web App on a mobile device

What else do I need to know?

What if I want to know more?

Sign in to Outlook Web App

To sign in to Outlook Web App:

  1. Sign in to Outlook Web App. For help, see Sign in to Outlook Web App.

  2. At the top of the page, choose Outlook (or Mail). Or, choose the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon > Mail.

    Office 365 navigation options

Forgot your password? If you have an Office 365 account, go to to reset your password. Otherwise, contact your organization's administrator for help with resetting.

What you’ll see in Mail

Mail in Outlook Web App

  1. Message. Create a new message by selecting New mail

  2. Folders list. The list includes the folders in your mailbox. It may include other folders, such as Favorites and Archive folders. Select Expand Collapse to collapse a list.

  3. Search box. In the Search mail and people box, type what you want to search for. For example, type the name of a person you want to find messages from, or text that you want to search for to find a particular message.

  4. Message list. Messages in the current folder are listed.

  5. Reading pane. The conversation or message that you selected appears in the reading pane. You can respond to any message in the conversation by using forward message Forward at the top of the message.

  6. For information about responding to messages you receive, see Responding to messages. For information about printing, see Printing messages.

For information about changing how messages are displayed, see Display settings for mail.

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Change the theme

A theme, which changes the background color, highlight colors, and images, is a quick and easy way to give a different look to your email.

To change the theme

On the nav bar, select Settings Settings icon, and then Change theme.

Change theme

Important: You can also change the theme through your Office 365 Settings. Setting themes in Office 365 Settings will override any theme setting you previously selected for Outlook Web App.

Change theme

O365 Settings

Create a new message

To create a new message
  1. Select New mail above the Folders list. A new message form opens in the reading pane.

  2. To add recipients, type the name of anyone who is in your contacts folder or organization’s address list. Or type the email address in the To or Cc box.

    The first time you enter a particular person’s name, Outlook Web App searches for that person’s address. The name then is cached so in the future it's resolved quickly.

  3. Type a subject.

  4. Type the message you want to send. For information about formatting your message, see Formatting messages in Outlook Web App.

  5. To add an attachment, select insert Insert > Attachment at the top of the form and browse to the file you want to attach. For more information, see Working with attachments.

  6. To embed a picture in the message so that it appears without the recipient having to open it, select insert Insert > Pictures inline, and browse to the picture you want to add to your message.

  7. To attach a message to the new message,

    • In the list view, select the message you want to attach and press Ctrl+C to copy it.

    • Open a new message, or reply or forward an existing one.

    • With the new message open in the reading pane, press Ctrl+V to attach the message you copied.

  8. To add an existing signature, select insert Insert > Your signature.

    If you haven't created a signature, see Create and add an email signature in Outlook Web App. You can choose to automatically add your signature to all messages or to individual messages.

  9. When your message is ready to go, select send  Send.

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Work with a draft message

Outlook Web App automatically saves your message as you create it and adds it to your drafts folder. If you can’t finish writing a message right away, or want to wait before you send it, you can select away from it and come back to finish it later.

Finish a draft message
  1. Select Drafts in the Folders list.

  2. Select the message you were working on to see it in the reading pane.

  3. Select deleteDiscard.

  4. If you want to send the message, finish editing it and then select send  Send.

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Reading pane

The reading pane is where messages are displayed. You not only can read messages in the reading pane, but also can respond to them without opening a new window.

message reading pane

  • To respond to a message, select forward message Forward at the top of a message. A new message appears in the reading pane at the top of the message.

  • To change the read status of a message, use Mark as read or Mark as unread.

  • To view more options, select More extended menu for an extended menu.

To change the location of the reading pane
  1. On the nav bar, select Settings Settings icon > Display settings > Reading pane

  2. Select one of the following: show the reading pane at the right or at the bottom of the window. Or, choose to hide the reading pane.

    • Show reading pane on the right, the default setting.

    • Show reading pane at bottom

    • Hide reading pane

  3. Select OK to save your selection and to close the Display settings window.

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Open a message in a separate window

By default, you read and create messages in the reading pane, but that isn’t always what you need. Sometimes you need to be able to view a message in a separate window.

When you’re composing a new message or replying to or forwarding a message you received, you can select the pop-out window icon Open in new window in the upper-right corner of the message to open it in a new window.

To open a message that you’re reading in a separate window, select the more icon extended menu and select Open in separate window.

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Deleted messages

When you delete a message, it's sent to the Deleted Items folder. Messages in the Deleted Items folder may be permanently deleted by an automated policy set by your helpdesk, by selecting them while in the folder and deleting them, or by emptying the Deleted Items folder. For information about recovering deleted messages, see Recover deleted items or email in Outlook Web App.

Empty the Deleted Items folder
  1. Right-click (or tap and hold) the Deleted Items folder.

  2. Select Empty folder.

  3. Select OK to confirm that you want to permanently delete the items.

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Folders list

The Folders list shows the default folders that are created for all mailboxes and any folder that you create. Depending on the setup in your organization, you may also see Favorites and Archive folders.


You can select Expand Collapse to hide it. Select any folder in the list to view its contents.

You can right-click any item in the Folders list to see a menu of things you can do, such as create a new folder, delete an existing folder, or empty a folder. On a touch screen, tap and hold an item to the menu for that item.

Create a new folder
  1. Right-click (or tap and hold) any folder in the Folders list and choose create new folder. A new, unnamed, folder is added as a subfolder to the folder you selected.

    To create a folder that's not a subfolder, right-click (or tap and hold) your name above your Inbox folder.

  2. Type a name for the new folder, and then press Enter.

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Message list

The message list shows the messages in the current folder. The messages displayed can be managed by selecting a filter or by using search. The message list has tools to let you take care of some tasks.

You select Expand Collapse to hide it. Select any folder in the list to view its contents.

  • By selecting icons at the right of the message list, you can delete a message or conversation or add a flag. Other icons show you which messages have attachments, importance of (high or low), and how many unread items there are in a conversation.

  • By right-clicking a message, you can see a menu of options, such as mark a message as read or unread, move it to another folder, or create a rule based on that message. On a touch screen, use tap and hold to view the message options.

  • By selecting the triangle to the left of a message, you can expand a conversation to see all messages in that conversation.

  • Use the label at the top of the message list to switch between viewing Conversations by date and Items by date.

outlook message list

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Junk Email folder

Mail identified as possible junk email is automatically moved to the Junk Email folder, and any potentially dangerous content within the message, for example, links or executable code, is disabled.

You can manage junk email reporting and other settings under the Options menu. See the topics below to learn more about Junk mail, and how to manage the settings.

Learn about junk email and phishing

Block or allow (junk email settings)

Search and built-in filters

You’ll find a search box and built-in filters at the top of the message list.


  • To search, select in the search box and start typing what you want to look for. A list of suggestions appears underneath, and you can select one of those suggestions to search for that item. Or you can finish entering your own search text and then press Enter to start your search. To clear your search, select the icon at the right of the search box.

  • The built-in filters, All, Unread, To me and Flagged, are a way to quickly choose what to display in the message list. All shows all messages, Unread shows message that haven’t been marked as read, To me shows all messages where your name appears in the To or Cc list, and Flagged shows all messages marked for further action.

For more information about searching, see Search in Outlook Web App.

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Use Outlook Web App on a mobile device

Important: If you’re on a mobile device, for the best experience we recommend that you install the latest Microsoft app for your device: Outlook for iOS or Outlook for Android.

If you use Outlook Web App on a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone, you may see something different from the images above.


Most features work the same as they do when you use Outlook Web App on a desktop or laptop computer, but some things are done differently.

Tap Go to Navigation in the lower corner to move among Mail, Calendar, and People.

To search, tap the search icon More options shows more selections.

Instead of using a right-click to see an on-screen menu, tap and hold. To select multiple items in the message list, swipe each item that you want to add. To deselect an item, swipe it again.

You create new items by tapping the new item icon Chevron up icons to expand or collapse the part of the screen they appear on.

To get to Options when you’re using a mobile device, tap the more icon More options, then tap Options. For more information see Options on a mobile device.

See OWA for iPad and OWA for iPhone for information about the OWA for Devices.

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What else do I need to know?

  • Outlook Web App uses your browser's spell checker. This happens automatically and can be configured using your web browser's settings.

  • You can find links to settings by selecting the settings icon Settings icon at the top of the Outlook Web App window. Such as:

    • Your account settings, including your password.

    • Automatic replies.

    • Display settings for messages.

    • Offline settings.

    • A theme.

    • Options for mail, calendar, and other features.

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What if I want to know more?

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