Preview messages

Do any of the following:

ShowPreview the first three lines of messages in the main Microsoft Outlook window

  • On the View menu, click AutoPreview.

 Note   To preview the first three lines of unread messages only, on the View menu, point to Arrange By, point to Current View, and then click Customize Current View. Click Other Settings, and then click Preview unread items.

ShowPreview the content of any item in the Reading Pane

In the Reading Pane (Reading Pane: A window in Outlook where you can preview an item without opening it. To display the item in the Reading Pane, click the item.), you can read the content of an item, open attachments, follow a hyperlink, use voting buttons, view the follow-up information in the InfoBar (InfoBar: Banner near the top of an open e-mail message, appointment, contact, or task. Tells you if a message has been replied to or forwarded, along with the online status of a contact who is using Instant Messaging, and so on.), and respond to meeting requests.

Security  You can view messages safely in the Reading Pane. Potentially malicious scripts or attachments are not activated or opened automatically in the Reading Pane. Although most malicious attachment types are blocked by Outlook, messages and attachments from unknown or unsolicited senders should always be treated with caution.

  • On the View menu, point to Reading Pane, and then click Right or Bottom.


  • The Reading Pane is not available for the Drafts folder.
  • By default, Outlook is configured to block external content, such as links to pictures or sounds, in HTML messages that you receive. These links are references in the HTML source code to an external location on the Internet. When you open or preview the message, your computer downloads the external content so that the picture can be displayed or the sound played. Sometimes, junk e-mail senders use the downloading of external content by your computer to verify your e-mail address as valid so they can add it to their spam list. For more information, see Blocking external content.
  • When you are viewing a message in the Reading Pane, you can view e-mail properties about a name in the From, To, or Cc field by double-clicking it.

ShowTurn off the Reading Pane

  • On the View menu, point to Reading Pane, and then click Off.
Applies to:
Outlook 2003