How to Sort a Mailbox in Windows Mail or Outlook Express

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A very full inbox
Philip Pechazal / Creative Commons

Microsoft discontinued Outlook Express in 2001 and replaced it with Windows Mail.

"Head" and "toes" may be absolute designations, but whether you prefer the emails in your Windows Mail or Outlook Express Inbox to stand on their heads or toes is a matter of taste.

Windows Mail or Outlook Express positions the emails that have just come in on top of all others. If you'd rather see them at the bottom so that old, undone emails get more attention, you may want to change the order of your Inbox. You can also sort emails by sender or by subject.

Sort a Mailbox in Windows Mail

To change the sort order of a folder in Windows Mail or Outlook Express:

  1. Open your inbox (or any other folder) in Windows Mail.
  2. Click on the heading of the column you want to sort.​
  3. To reverse the order, click on the same column heading again.
  4. You can include additional columns not shown by default. Select View > Columns… from the menu and check all desired criteria.
  5. Click on the newly added columns to rearrange their sort order.

Sort the Folder List in Windows Mail

If you want to sort the folders themselves instead of their contents, you have to take a different approach. If you have fewer than 10 folders:

  1. Right-click on the folder icon you want to appear on top of the list. 
  2. Select Rename... from the menu.
  3. Add the prefix 0- in front of the existing name.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Repeat this process with each folder you want to appear in order, increasing the numeral each time. For example, add 1- in front of the next folder you want in the list and 2- in front of the next, and so on through 9-.

The folders will display in the numerical order established by the prefixes you assign.

When you have more than 10 folders, things are a little more complicated. A folder assigned a prefix of 10- is positioned between a folder with a prefix of 1- and the folder with the prefix of 2-. Determine your preferred folder order before you get started to assign the correct prefix to each folder.