Change the appearance of the Navigation Pane

Sometimes you might want to increase the amount space in the Microsoft Outlook window for viewing messages, calendars, or tasks. At other times, you might need easy access to all your mail folders, or you might want to switch quickly between different views such as Calendar and Contacts. The Outlook Navigation Pane (Navigation Pane: The column on the left side of the Outlook window that includes buttons for the Mail, Calendar, and Tasks views and the folders within each view. Click a folder to show the items in the folder.) provides flexibility with several different views and options that help you to work as efficiently as possible.

You can:

  • Completely hide the Navigation Pane to increase the space in your Outlook window.
  • Minimize the Navigation Pane, so that with a single click you can open and close the pane to access your folders and different views.
  • Leave the Navigation Pane minimized and still access the Folder List and other panes within it.
What do you want to do?


Turn on or off the Navigation Pane

  1. On the View menu, in the Layout group, click Navigation Pane.

Navigation Pane command in the ribbon

  1. Click Normal, Minimized, or Off.

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Minimize or expand the Navigation Pane

You can free more space in the Outlook window by minimizing the Navigation Pane. The slim profile of the minimized Navigation Pane makes a larger viewing area available in your Outlook window, while still providing quick access to the folders and files that you use most often. And you can still view your Folder List in a Folder List pane that opens from the minimized Navigation Pane.

There are several ways to minimize and expand the Navigation Pane. Choose the one that best fits your working style.

  • To minimize the expanded Navigation Pane, click the arrow in the upper corner. To expand the minimized Navigation Pane, click the arrow at the top.

This arrow is also available in the Navigation Pane header in other views, such as Contacts and Calendar.

  • On the View tab, in the Layout group, click Navigation Pane, and then click Normal or Minimized.
  • Point to the edge of the expanded Navigation Pane. When the pointer becomes a Horizontal size handle icon, double-click to minimize. Repeat the same action over the edge of the minimized Navigation Pane to expand it.
  • Point to the edge of the expanded Navigation Pane. When the pointer becomes a Horizontal size handle icon, drag it toward the edge until the Navigation Pane is collapsed into the minimized version. Drag the edge of the minimized Navigation Pane to expand again.

 Notes 

  • When the minimized Navigation Pane is expanded, it appears the same width as before it was minimized.
  • If you exit Outlook with the Navigation Pane minimized, it will be minimized when you restart Outlook.

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Open the Folder List pane in the minimized Navigation Pane

With the Navigation Pane minimized, you have a larger viewing and working area available in your Outlook window, while maintaining easy access to your entire Mail Folder List with a single click. Opening only the Folder List allows you to keep the Navigation Pane minimized while you work, rather than expanding the Navigation Pane each time you need to access a folder. You can also perform an Instant Search (Instant Search: A Search feature that provides search results quickly with word highlighting as you type. The Instant Search pane is always available in Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Folder List, and Journal.) from the Folder List.

  • On the minimized Navigation Pane, click the Navigation Pane folder button.

 Note    Clicking a folder button in the minimized Navigation Pane opens that folder's content in the Outlook message list (message list: The middle part of the main Outlook window that displays the contents of the selected folder.).

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010