Customize Outlook favorites, make email easier and simpler

Are you making the most of the Favorites feature in Outlook web mail? Maybe not and customizing Favorites, creating and re-ordering them can make mail easier and quicker. Here’s how it works.

This guide shows how to customize favorites at the website in a web browser and it works on Windows PC, Apple Mac and Linux. Outlook is synced to other apps and devices, so any changes you make can also be seen in the Windows Mail app and iPhone and Android phone apps. Change Favorites in one place and it changes everywhere.

What are Outlook favorites?

Outlook Favorites is a list of your favorite mail folders in the email service. System folders like Inbox, Sent Items, Drafts and others can be added to the favorites list. Folders you create yourself to organize your mail can also be added to the Favorites list. The appear on the left of the inbox list.

Add the folders you access most to the Favorites list to make them quicker and easier to access. It could save time and effort and boost productivity. OK, it’s only going to save you a few microseconds each time, but instead of seeing the full list of folders, which is often not necessary, with Favorites, you only see what is important, they are listed first, and a simpler list has fewer distractions.

1 Expand Favorites and Folders

The Favorites list in Outlook web mail
Favorites and Folders in Outlook mail

Click the arrows next to Favorites and Folders to expand them and see all the mail folders in each section. Some folders appear on the Favorites list by default, but they may not be the best for you. There may be folders you don’t access very often, like Sent Items. You will also see a lot of duplication and folders appear on both lists. Let’s organize them better.

2 Add or remove items in Favorites

Add folders to Favorites or remove them in Outlook mail
Click the star to add or remove items from Favorites

Select any folder in the Folders list and then select the star at the top of the next column to add it to the Favorites list.

Select any folder in the Favorites list and clear the star icon at the top of the folder list to remove it from the Favorites list. Adding or removing items from Favorites does not affect the contents of the folder and removing it from Favorites still enables it to be accessed in the Folders list if you need it.

Trim the Favorites list so that only the items that are essential are shown. Your Favorites list can be the same as mine or different. There is no right or wrong and it should reflect what you use the most.

3 Rearrange the order of favorites

Click and drag items in Outlook Favorites list
Click and drag folders in the Favorites list

Click and drag any item in the Favorites list to move it up or down the list. A thin line shows where it will be inserted. Drop it where you want it. You should put your most used items at the top of the list. Inbox will no doubt be the first item in Favorites, but what comes after it is up to you, don’t copy my list, make it yours.

4 Search and add favorites

Search for items to add to Outlook Favorites
Add items to Favorites

The last item on the Favorites list is an Add favorite link. Click it and a list of suggestions appears. If you see what you want, click it to add it. Search for items to add to the Favorites list if you do not see what you want. If you have used email groups or categories, these can be added to the Favorites list too. Read this article to see how to use categories in Outlook.

5 View your favorites

A compact and easy to use Favorites list in Outlook
A simplified and easier to use Outlook Favorites list

Finally, shrink the Folders and Groups lists and just leave the Favorites list expanded. Now the folder list only holds the essentials. Mail folders are simpler and easier to use now that there are only a few of them instead of a long list.

Compare the last screenshot to the first and see how much shorter and simpler the left column is now. Only the essentials are visible.

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