How to Edit a Received Email in Outlook

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You can edit the subject line and message text for emails you've received in Microsoft Outlook.

One good reason for wanting to edit a message in Outlook is if the subject line was poorly written and does not provide a good enough description for you to quickly identify what the email is about. Another reason to edit the subject is if the subject field is empty; search for all the emails with empty subject lines and edit them to your heart's content so that finding them is easier next time.

Edit a Received Email

These steps work for Outlook versions up through 2016, as well as the Mac version of Outlook. Watch out for the differences called out in each version.

  1. Double-click or double-tap the message you want to edit so that it opens in its own window.

  2. What you need to do next depends on your version of Outlook and the operating system you're using.

    • Outlook 2016 and 2013: Choose Actions > Edit Message from the Move section of the email's Message ribbon.
    • Outlook 2007: Select Other Actions > Edit Message from the toolbar.
    • Outlook 2003 and earlier: Use the Edit > Edit Message menu.
    • Mac: Navigate to the Message > Edit menu option.
  3. Make any changes to the message body and subject line.

    Outlook may warn you that it needs to download images (or other content) in the message before you can edit it; click OK and proceed.

  4. Press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac) to save the message.

You can not edit the recipient fields (To, Cc and Bcc) with this method, only the subject line, and body text.

Changes Reflected on Other Devices

Since the emails have already been downloaded to your computer, all you are doing is writing the message and then saving a local copy.

However, if your email is configured to use Microsoft Exchange or IMAP, then any changes you make will be reflected in the emails no matter where you check them, like from your phone or another computer.

The sender will not know, of course, that you edited your copy of the email they sent.