15 Folder Pane Tips & Tricks

Folder Pane buttonThe Folder Pane in Outlook is the main navigation method between your mailboxes, folders and the separate modules such as Mail, Calendar and Contacts.

This pane does contain a couple of options and other “secrets” to fit it to your style and work with it more efficiently.

Toggle the Folder Pane

With ALT+F1 you can enable/disable the Folder Pane.

Easily switch between the various Folder Modules;

  • CTRL+1    Mail Module
  • CTRL+2    Calendar Module
  • CTRL+3    Contacts Module
  • CTRL+4    Tasks Module
  • CTRL+5    Notes Module
  • CTRL+6    Folder List Module
  • CTRL+7    Shortcuts Module
  • CTRL+8    Journal Module

Configure which modules are shown and in which order

By default, Outlook will only show the icons of 4 modules at the bottom of the Folder Pane. To show more or to configure which modules are shown and in which order use;

  • Simplified Ribbon (Microsoft 365)
    View-> Layout-> Folder Pane-> Options…
  • Classic Ribbon
    View-> Folder Pane-> Options…

Note that the Folder Pane needs to be sufficiently wide to actually be able to show the module icons.

Show module icons or module names to navigate

To switch between the modules, you can use the icons listed at the bottom of the Folder Pane.

If you’d rather see the names of the modules instead, you can disable “Compact Navigation” via the Folder Pane Options dialog mentioned above.

Add Shortcuts to the Shortcuts Module

You can build your own custom menu in the Shortcuts Module. It can consist of anything like shortcuts to Outlook folders, Explorer Folder, files and applications and can be organized in expandable/collapsible groups.

  • For an Outlook folder; click Add new Shortcut
  • For an Explorer folder or file; drag & drop the folder or file on the group name from an Explorer window

Change the startup folder

You can configure the startup folder by going to;

  • File-> Options-> Advanced-> Start Outlook in this folder

You can even select your favorite Search Folder such as the Today’s Unread Mail Search Folder.

Start in E-mail, Folder List or Shortcuts Module

Close Outlook in the Module you prefer and it will start in that module again.

For the Shortcuts Module make sure your configured startup folder is available in the Shortcuts Module.

Add folders to the Favorites section in the Mail Module

You can add Mail and Search Folders to your Favorites list in the Mail Module by right clicking a folder and choose “Add to Favorites” or drag & drop the folder into the Favorites section.

To remove a folder right click the folder in either the Favorites section or in the folder list and choose “Remove From Favorites”.

Remove the Favorites section from the Mail Module

If you don’t like or use the Favorites section you can remove it via;

  • Simplified Ribbon (Microsoft 365)
    View-> Layout-> Folder Pane-> Favorites
  • Classic Ribbon
    View-> Folder Pane-> Favorites

Adding a Shared Exchange Mailbox more quickly

When you use an Exchange account, you can add a Shared Mailbox to your Folder List via;

  • File-> Account Settings->Account Settings…-> double click on your Exchange account-> button More Settings-> tab Advanced-> Add…

You can do this a bit more quickly directly from the Folder Pane;

  • Right click the root of your Exchange Mailbox-> Data File Properties…-> button Advanced…-> tab Advanced-> Add…

Add additional Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Journal folders to the Folder Pane

  • All Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Journal folders that are available in the Folder List Module (with exception of the Public Folders) will be shown in the “My” group in the corresponding module.
  • All other folders that you have accessed through File-> Open & Export-> Other User’s Folder will be shown in the “Other” group in the corresponding module.
  • To add a Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes or Journal from Public Folders to the corresponding Module, right click that folder and choose “Add to Favorites…”. If it still doesn’t show; right click the folder from within Favorites and choose “Add to Other …”

Show Multiple Calendars

To show multiple calendars side-by-side you can select the Calendars via the selection box in the Calendar Module.

The name of the Calendar will show above the view of the calendar and calendars will be marked with different colors.

By right clicking on the tab of the Calendar, or using the arrow in front of the name, you can enable Overlay mode for that Calendar.

View Monthly Calendars in the Calendar module

When you are in the Calendar module and you disable the Calendar section from the To-Do Bar, the monthly calendars will show up in the Folder List instead of on the right side in the To-Do Bar.

  • Simplified Ribbon (Microsoft 365)
    View-> Layout-> To-Do Bar-> Calendar
  • Classic Ribbon
    View-> To-Do Bar-> Calendar

Location of the Folder Pane settings

Folder Pane settings are stored here;


If you want, you can backup and restore this file while Outlook is closed.

Reset the Folder List

To reset the Folder List and to undo all customizations start Outlook with the /resetnavpane command line switch;

Start-> type; outlook.exe /resetnavpane