How to Turn off the Outlook Reading Pane

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Microsoft Outlook is a popular desktop email program used by corporations and individuals alike. The Outlook Reading Pane, also called the preview pane, helps users quickly scan messages, preview the first few lines of messages, and even break up long messages by splitting the message window.

Some users find Outlook's Reading Pane helpful, but others aren't fans. Fortunately, it's easy to disable this feature.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2013, 2016 and 2019, as well as Outlook for Office 365. Outlook for Mac instructions are included below, separately.

Disable Outlook's Reading Pane

The Reading Pane is enabled by default. When you disable the Reading Pane, it turns off the pane for the currently selected email account.

  1. Open Outlook.

  2. Go to View and select Reading Pane.

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

    Outlook 2016 Reading Pane dropdown with Off selected

    If you prefer, select Right or Bottom in this box to reconfigure your Reading Pane.

  4. The Reading Pane is now closed, and the message list expands to fill available space.

    Outlook 2016 with Reading Pane turned off

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

Turn off the Reading Pane for Multiple Folders

When you select Off to close the Reading Pane, it applies only to the folder you're currently in. Here's how to turn off the Reading Pane quickly for multiple folders:

  1. Open Outlook and select the View tab.

  2. Select Change View > Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders.

  3. Choose the folders you want to be affected in the Apply View dialog box.

  4. The Reading Pane is now disabled in all your selected mail folders.

Turn off the Reading Pane in Outlook for Mac

These steps apply to Outlook for Office 365 for Mac, Outlook 2016 for Mac, and Outlook 2019 for Mac.

  1. Open Outlook.

  2. Select Organize > Reading Pane.

  3. Select Off.

Alternatively, select Right or Bottom to reposition the Reading Pane.