Change the Order of the Folder List in MS Outlook: Customize Your Navigation Pane

Getting to the Folder List

Folder List in Outlook

In order to change the Folder List, you need to set it as your current view. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, you can click on the folder icon at the bottom of the Navigation Pane. The second option is to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+6. Outlook will start in the view that it was in when you last closed it, so it will remain in Folder List view until and unless you change it.

Depending on how many accounts you have added to Outlook, you may have a single Inbox, Deleted Items and Sent Items folder or you might have multiple versions of each. Likewise, your folder list will show all of the folders you have created for each account. The default email account will be listed first, followed by your other accounts in the order in which they are listed.

Changing the Order of the Folder List

The folders in the Navigation Pane are listed in alphabetical order under the account in which they were created. To change the order in which the accounts are listed, you must change the default email account. Outlook does not offer a way to change the order of the folder list itself. Fortunately, there are workarounds that make it possible to list the folders in the order you would like them.

Numbering Folders

One way to do so is to rename the folders with names that put them in alphabetical order. For instance, change the name of the folder that you want listed first to begin with the letter "A," the second with a "B" and so on.

Perhaps an easier method, though, is to use a numbering system. Right-click the folder that you want listed first. Click on Rename Folder and type the number 1 in front of the folder name. Add a 2 to the folder you want listed next and so forth until all of the folders are numbered in the order that you want them.

New Outlook Folder

A third way to change the order of the Folder List in MS Outlook is to use subfolders. If you have several groups of folders that are somehow related, such as folders pertaining to clients or folders relevant to a hobby or interest, you can create parent folders for the relationship and move the relevant folders there.

Right-click the account name in which you want to create parent folders and subfolders. If you only have one email account in Outlook, simply right-click on your email address in the Folder List. Select New Folder. In the Create New Folder window, type a name for the parent folder. Select Mail and Post Items in the Folder Contains list and click OK. Make as many parent folders as you require and then drag and drop the existing folders into the corresponding parent folder.

Customizing Your Favorite Folders

Another way to modify the manner in which folders appear in your Navigation Pane is to use the Favorite Folders section. Shown at the top of the Navigation Pane when you are using the standard Mail view, you can easily customize which folders appear in this area as well as the order in which they are shown.

Enable Outlook Favorites

To return to Mail view from Folder List view, press the Mail icon at the bottom of the Navigation Pane or press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1. In Outlook 2003, you cannot remove the Favorites pane, so it will be visible by default. In Outlook 2007 and 2010, you can turn the pane on and off, so if it is not visible in Mail view, you need to enable it.

In Outlook 2007, go to the View menu, point to Navigation Pane and select Favorite Folders. In Outlook 2010, go to the View tab and select Navigation Pane in the Layout group. Select Favorites to enable the Favorites pane.

Once the Favorites Pane is visible, you can begin customizing it. There are a couple of ways to add and rearrange the folders. Perhaps the simplest method is dragging and dropping. You can drag and drop folders from the Navigation Pane to the Favorites Pane and drag them out of the pane as well. In addition, you can change the order of the folders by dragging and dropping them specifically where you want them.

Outlook Show in Favorites

Another method is to right-click the folder and make the appropriate selection. For instance, you can right-click a folder in the Navigation Pane and select Show in Favorites to add it to the Favorites Pane. Right-clicking a folder in the Favorites Pane offers options such as Remove from Favorites, which takes the folder off the list, or Move Up and Move Down, which enable you to change the order of the folders in the list.

Folders in the Favorite Folders list are simply shortcuts to the actual folders. You are not copying or duplicating the folders that you add to this list, and removing a folder from the Favorites pane will not affect the original folder in any way.

Do you have a trick you use to organize your Navigation pane or a question on using any of these steps? Please share or ask away in the Comments section below.

Resources and References

Microsoft Office Online: Change the Navigation Pane Appearance;

Microsoft Office Online: Add or Remove Folders in Favorites;

Screenshots provided by the writer