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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.

This article is for Outlook Web App, which is used by organizations that manage email servers running Exchange Server 2013 or 2010. If you're using Microsoft 365, or Exchange Server 2016 or 2019, your email program is Outlook on the web. For help with Outlook on the web, see Get help with Outlook on the web.

  • In a web browser, sign in to Outlook Web App using the URL provided by the person who manages email for your organization. Enter your user name and password, and then select Sign in.

    Note: If you want to use the 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, for use over slow connections, and to meet accessibility needs by providing a simplified interface that’s easier to use with screen readers.

When you open Mail, you get a quick view of your standard and any custom folders, a list of received messages, and a reading pane that lets you quickly review the content of any message you choose.

Mail in Outlook Web App






Create a new message by choosing New mail.


Folders list

The list includes the folders in your mailbox. It might include other folders, such as Favorites and Archive folders.

  • Choose Expand Expand to show the Folders list, or choose Collapse Collapse to hide it.

  • In the Folders list, choose Show Expand to expand a list, or choose Hide Collapse to collapse a list.

See Working with message folders in Outlook on the web to learn more about available options.


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 enter text that you want to search for to find a particular message.


Message list

Messages in the current folder are listed.


Reading pane

The conversation or message that you chose appears in the reading pane. You can respond to any message in the conversation by using replyReply, reply to allReply all, or forward messageForward at the top of the message.

For more information, see:

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.

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

Create a new message

  1. Choose New mail above the Folders list. A new message form opens in the reading pane.

  2. Do one of the following to add a recipient:

    • Type the name of anyone who is in your contacts folder or organization’s address list.


    • Type the email address in the To or Cc box.

    Note: The first time you enter a person’s name, Outlook Web App searches for that person’s address. Then, the name is cached so in the future the search is resolved quickly.

  3. Type a subject.

  4. Type the message you want to send.

  5. When your message is ready to go, choose Send send.

As you create a new email message (or respond to an existing one), Outlook Web App automatically saves it in your Drafts folder. This default action is useful, particularly if a situation arises that requires you to suspend creation of a new message. You can finish composing the message when you choose.

Finish a draft message

  1. Choose Drafts in the Folders list.

  2. Choose the message you were working on to see it in the reading pane, and then continue writing the message. Or, choose Discard delete if you've decided not to send the message.

  3. When you're done writing the message, choose Send send.

Add an attachment to a message

  • Choose Insert insert > Attachments at the top of the message form and browse to the file you want to attach.

Embed a picture in a message

You can embed a picture in a message so that it appears without the recipient having to open the message.

  • Choose Insert insert > Pictures inline, and browse to the picture you want to add to your message.

Attach a message to a new message

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

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

  3. With the new message open in the reading pane and the cursor in the message body, press Ctrl+V to attach the message you copied.

Add an existing signature

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

  • Choose Insert insert > Your signature.

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 choose the pop-out window Open in new window in the upper-right corner of the message to open it in a new window.

  1. In the message list, choose the message you want to view in a separate window.

  2. Choose More actions extended menu > Open in a separate window.

When you delete a message, it's sent to the Deleted Items folder. Messages in the Deleted Items folder might be permanently deleted by an automated policy set by the administrator for your organization, by you selecting them while in the folder and deleting them, or by you 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. Choose Empty folder.

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

When you open Mail, the message list is in the center pane, flanked on the left by the Folder list, and on the right by the reading pane. By default, the message list shows the messages in your Inbox, the current folder. This default setting doesn't limit you to which messages are displayed. You can manage the displayed messages by choosing a filter or by using search. There also are other tools available with the message list to let you take care of some tasks.

  • Choose Expand Expand to show the Folders list, or choose Collapse Collapse to hide it. Choose any folder in the list to view its contents.

  • Choose icons at the right of the message list to delete a message or conversation or to 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.

  • Right-click a message to see a menu of options. There are 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.

  • Choose Expand to show all messages or conversations to the left of a message to 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.

The reading pane is where messages are displayed. You can read and respond to a message in the reading pane. Or, you can open a message in a separate (new) window.

  • To respond to a message, choose replyReply, reply to allReply all, or forward messageForward 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, choose More actions extended menu for an extended menu.

Change the location of the reading pane

  1. On the nav bar, choose Settings Settings icon > Display settings > Reading pane.

  2. Choose one of the following:

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

    • Show reading pane at bottom

    • Hide reading pane

  3. Choose OK to save your selection and to close Display settings.

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 might also see Favorites and Archive folders.

You can choose Expand Expand to show the Folders list, or choose Collapse Collapse to hide it. Choose 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 then 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 and then choose Create new folder.

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

Junk Email folder

Mail identified as possible junk email is automatically moved to the Junk Email folder. 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. Specifically, go to Settings > Options > Options > Block or allow. See the topics below to learn more about Junk mail, and how to manage the settings.

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

  • You can find links to settings by choosing Settings Settings icon at the top of the Outlook Web App window. There are options for:

And you can learn more about:

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