How-To Geek

Mark Messages As Read in the Outlook 2010 Reading Pane

Do you ever feel annoyed that Outlook 2010 doesn’t mark messages as Read as soon as you click and view them in the Reading Pane?  Here we show you how to make Outlook mark them as read as soon as they’re opened.

Mark as Read

By default, Outlook will not mark a message as read until you select another message.  This can be annoying, because if you read a message and immediately click Delete, it will show up as an unread message in our Deleted Items folder.



Let’s change this to make Outlook mark messages as read as soon as we view them in the Reading Pane.  Open Outlook and click File to open Backstage View, and select Options.


In Options select Mail on the left menu, and under Outlook panes click on the Reading Pane button.


Check the box Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane to make Outlook mark your messages as read when you view them in the Reading Pane.  By default, Outlook will only mark a message read after you’ve been reading it for 5 seconds, though you can change this.  We set it to 0 seconds so our messages would be marked as read as soon as we select them.


Click OK in both dialogs, and now your messages will be marked as read as soon as you select them in the reading pane, or soon after, depending on your settings.


Outlook 2010 is a great email client, but like most programs it has its quirks.  This quick tip can help you get rid of one of Outlook’s annoying features, and make it work like you want it to.

And, if you’re still using Outlook 2007, check out our article on how to Mark Messages as Read When Viewed in Outlook 2007.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 05/27/10

Comments (11)

  1. geordie

    Thank you

    when i am down to the last item in the Unread Mail. and i delete it, it remains in the Reading Pane. Any ideas how to make this not happen

    Thank you in advance

  2. Radu

    Thanks, that s**t really was annoying.

  3. Katia

    My Outlook 2010 all of a sudden stopped marking messages in my inbox as read as soon as I opened them up. This started happening yesterday morning. It had been working fine since I loaded Office 2010 it last August. I followed the instructions above and they didn’t work. Oddly, items in my junk box and my deleted box respond just fine (text “unbolds” as soon as messages are opened.) Please advise, and thanks!

  4. Theresa

    Thanks! Very straightforward instructions…hope it works!

  5. mike

    I don’t use the reading pane. Lately when I open an email and then click delete (either from within the email or from the email list using the delete key, it moves to the deleted folder but stays marked as unread. Never used to do this, and it’s really annoying. I tried adjusting the reading pane setting but it had no effect (whether using the reading pane or not). Any ideas?; thanks

  6. Jason

    I like the options to mark as read automatically but since i have both a personal mailbox (where this would be awesome) and a shared mailbox (that would be bad to have enabled), I have to disable it. It would be cool if you could choose each mailbox reading separately.

  7. Mary Ellen Fulton

    I can see how my mail is marked as read but I would like to know when the person I am emailing opens it. I don’t know where to look. Is it easy?

  8. samson

    its important that all the messages in the inbox re marked read 4 easy identification

  9. geo

    Thanks! great help!

  10. Brigette

    OMG, Thank you!

  11. Karen

    Thanks for the info….fixed my problem perfectly!!!

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