Office 365 (Outlook on the web) - Mail Overview

When you open Outlook Web App, the first thing you'll see is your Inbox. This is where messages sent to you arrive, and this is where you'll probably spend the most time reading and responding to messages.

An overview of Mail in Outlook on the web

Note: All the instructions below assume you are within the "Mail" application.

Open Mail application

  1. Log into Outlook on the web.
  2. Open the app launcher tool in the top left of your Outlook on the web window as shown below.

    app launcher icon

  3. Select Mail from the list of available apps.

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What you'll see in Mail

Mail View

This is where you'll find your messages.

  1. Create a new message by clicking the New icon.
  2. Search mail and people and folder list. The Search mail and people area allows you to search for specific messages. Use the folder list to traverse your folder structure. It may include other folders, such as Favorites and archive folders. You can collapse this pane by clicking the folder icon at the top. You can expand and collapse folders in this view by clicking the triangle icons next to the folder names.
  3. The message list is a list of the messages in the current folder or search result. Each entry in the list view has additional information, such as how many unread messages there are in a conversation, or if there's an attachment, flag, or category associated with any messages in the conversation. A conversation can have one or more messages. When a conversation is selected, you can delete it, add a flag, or add a category by clicking the icons. At the top of the list view are filters that you can click to quickly find messages that are unread, that include your name in the To or the Cc line, or that have been flagged. In addition to the filters, you'll see the name of the folder you're viewing and the view that you've selected.
  4. Reading pane is where you can view the content or respond to the selected message. For information about responding to messages you've received, see Responding to messages. For information about printing, see Printing messages.

For information about changing how messages are displayed, see Display settings for mail.

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Create a new message

To create a new message:

  1. Click the New icon above the folder list. A new message form will appear in the reading pane.
  2. To add recipients, you can type the name of anyone who is in your contacts folder or organization's address list, or you can type the email address in the To or cc field. The first time you enter a particular person's name, Outlook on the web searches for that person's address. In the future, the name will be cached so it will resolve quickly.
  3. Add a subject.
  4. Type the message you want to send.
  5. To add an attachment, click Attach at the top of the new message screen and browse to the file you want to attach. For more information, see Working with attachments.
  6. When you're done and your message is ready to go, click Send.

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Working with drafts

If you can't finish writing a message right away, or want to wait a bit before you send it, you can click away from it and come back to it later to finish it. Outlook on the web automatically saves your message as you create it and adds it to your drafts folder. When you're ready to send your message:

  1. Find the Drafts folder in the folder list and click on it.

    Drafts folder

  2. Click on the message you were working on to see it in the reading pane.
  3. After you have made the desired changes, click Send.

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Open a message in a separate window

By default, you read and create messages in the reading pane, but that isn't always what you need. Sometimes you need to be able to view a message in a separate window.

When you're composing a new message or replying to or forwarding a message that you've received, you can open it in a new window by clicking the pop out icon located in the upper corner of the message. Pop out Icon

To open a message that you're reading in a separate window, double click on the message from your message list.

Mail, one section at a time

Folder list

The folder list will show the default folders that are created for all mailboxes, plus any folder that you create. Depending on the setup in your organization, you may also see Favorites and Archive folders. You will be able to acess any of your previous folders/messages created from WiscMail by expanding your netID email, highlighted below. 

Folder List

You can close the folder list by clicking the left arrow icon at the top of the list. Click any folder in the list to view its contents.

You can right-click any item in the folder list to see a menu of things you can do that will affect folders--such as create a new folder, delete an existing folder, or empty the Deleted Items folder.

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Search and built-in filters

You'll find a search window at the top of the folder list.

  • To search for specific items, enter the desired search string--a list of suggestions will appear underneath, and you can click on one of those to search for that item. Or you can finish entering your own search and then press Enter to start your search. To clear your search, click the "X" icon at the right of the search window.


  • The built-in filters, In folders, From, Options and Date are helpful to quickly narrow down your search results. 


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Message list

The message list shows the messages in the current folder. The messages displayed can be managed by selecting a filter or using search. The message list has tools to let you take care of some tasks quickly.

Message List

  • By selecting icons at the right of the message list, you can delete a message or conversation, mark it as unread, add a flag or pin it to keep it at the top of your message list. Other icons will show you which messages have attachments, importance of (high or low), and how many unread items there are in a conversation.
  • By right-clicking a message, you can see a menu of options, reply to the sender, delete the message, such as mark a message read or unread, move it to another folder, or create a rule based on that message.
  • By clicking the triangle to the left of a message, you can expand a conversation to see all messages in that conversation.
  • Use the drop-down arrow at the top of the message list to select the "Sort By", "Sort Order", or "Conversations" mode you want to view your messages in.

Drop Down Menu

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Reading pane

The reading pane is where messages are displayed. Not only can you read messages in the reading pane, you can respond to them without opening a new window.

Reading Pane

  • Select Reply, Reply All or Forward at the top of a message to respond to it. A blank message will appear in the reading pane at the top of the conversation.
  • Click the "thumbs up" if you like a message.
  • View a menu of more options by selecting the extended menu arrow on the right side of Reply All.
  • The reading pane appearance can be managed by going to Settings (gear icon) | Options | Mail | Layout | Reading pane.

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What if I want to know more?

Keywords:microsoft office o365 client outlook web app email overview send owa folder list search filters message list reading pane drafts interface inbox rules filtering conversation view sort order display   Doc ID:29850
Owner:Ara M.Group:Office 365
Created:2013-04-25 09:58 CDTUpdated:2016-05-04 15:53 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
Feedback:  2   2