How to Disable the Reading Pane in Outlook on Windows and Mac

By default, when you select an email message in Outlook, it automatically opens in the reading pane on the right. Even if you don’t actually click on an email, the first email in the first account is opened in the reading pane automatically.

Hiding the reading pane used to be critical for protecting yourself from potentially malicious code in email messages. However, Outlook has incorporated more safety measures when it comes to attachments in emails:

“To help protect you from potentially malicious code, Outlook disables embedded content in attachments, such as scripts, macros, and ActiveX controls, while you are previewing.”

You still should be cautious when opening emails and attachments–only open attachments and emails from known sources. You can read more about how Outlook helps protect you from viruses, spam, and phishing.

So, if the reading pane contains protections against malicious attachments, why would you want to disable the reading pane? Maybe you often work in public places or your family or friends like to be nosy and look over your shoulder while you’re reading your email. Hiding the reading pane will at least initially hide the content of your emails from prying eyes. We’ll show you how to hide the reading pane in Outlook for Windows and Mac.

How to Disable the Reading in Outlook for Windows

To hide the reading pane in Outlook for Windows, click the “View” tab.

Click the “Reading Pane” button and select “Off” from the menu. This menu also allows you to move the reading pane to the bottom of the Outlook window.

The reading pane closes. To read an email now, double-click on it in the list. The email will open in a separate window.

To turn on the reading pane again, simply select “Right” or “Bottom” from the Reading Pane menu on the View tab.

How to Disable the Reading in Outlook for Mac

To hide the reading pane in Outlook for Mac, click the “Organize” tab.

Click the “Reading Pane” button and select “Off” from the menu. This menu also allows you to move the reading pane to the bottom of the Outlook window.

The reading pane closes. To read an email now, double-click on it in the list. The email will open in a separate window.

To turn on the reading pane again, simply select “Right” or “Bottom” from the Reading Pane menu on the Organize tab.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.