How to Turn Off the Outlook Reading Pane

Close Reading Panes in individual folders or all folders

Businessman using laptop on sofa at night
Sam Diephuis/Blend Images/Getty Images

The Outlook Reading Pane, also called the preview pane, is useful for some, but for others, there are times when it is unwanted or in the way in its default location. You can turn off the Reading Pane, or change where it appears in the Outlook window.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Office 365.

How to Turn Off the Outlook Reading Pane

When you disable the Reading Pane, it turns off the pane for the currently selected account. You will need to turn off the Reading Pane in each email account individually. Alternatively, you can turn off the Reading Pane for all accounts by default.

To turn off the Reading Pane or move it to the bottom of the window in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Outlook for Office 365:

  1. Go to View and select Reading Pane.

    Outlook 2016 View and Reading Pane menu selections
  2. Select Off.

    Outlook 2016 Reading Pane dropdown with Off selected
  3. The Reading Pane is closed.

    Outlook 2016 with Reading Pane turned off
  4. The message list pane expands to fill the available space.

Turn Off Reading Pane in Outlook 2007 and 2003

To turn off the Reading Pane in Outlook 2007 and 2003, click View > Reading Pane > Off.

Outlook 2007 with menu items View > Reading Pane > Off selected

If the Reading Pane is turned off and you want to open it in its original location, go to View and select Reading Pane > Right.

Turn Off the Reading Pane by Default

To set Outlook to start with Reading Panes turned off for all email folders, create a shortcut for Outlook if you don't already have one created.

  1. Right-click on the Outlook shortcut icon and select Properties.

    Context menu of Outlook shortcut with Properties selected
  2. Select the Shortcut tab.

    Shortcut tab of Outlook desktop shortcut properties
  3. In the Target text box, place the cursor at the end of the existing text and type /nopreview.

    Desktop shortcut Properties window with Shortcut tab selected and /nopreview appended to Target line
  4. Select OK. When you open Outlook using the shortcut, all email folders are reset so that the Reading Pane is turned off.

Each time you open Outlook with this shortcut, Reading Panes are turned off, even if you set them to be visible the last time you used Outlook. The /nopreview command in the shortcut resets the Reading Panes each time it runs.