Office 365 (Outlook 2013 | 2010) - Make Outlook more like Thunderbird

Important: By February 2017, Microsoft will no longer push any updates to Office 2013 suite of applications. Please see the following document for further details: Office 365 - Microsoft Office 2013 path to retirement.

Many users prefer the functionality and view of Thunderbird over Outlook, but Office 365 functions best in Outlook. This document will explain how to make Outlook 2010 and 2013 look and feel more like Thunderbird while still maintaining the best functionality with Office 365.

Outlook before changes are made.

Outlook after changes are made.


Changing view options

If you have not yet set up Outlook, please do so before completing the steps below: Office 365 (Outlook 2013 | 2010 for Windows) - Configure Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2010

  • To minimize the top ribbon:

    1. Right-click anywhere on the ribbon
    2. Select Collapse the ribbon
    3. In Outlook 2010, it will be Minimize the ribbon
  • To place the reading pane at the bottom:

    1. Click View
    2. Click Reading Pane
    3. Select Bottom from the dropdown
  • To automatically mark messages as read:

    1. Click View
    2. Click Reading Pane
    3. Select Options from the dropdown
    4. Check the box to Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane
  • To turn off the People Pane at the bottom of the screen:

    1. Click View
    2. Click People Pane
    3. Select Off from the dropdown
  • To turn off the body preview of a message (Outlook 2013 only):

    1. Click View
    2. Click Message Preview
    3. Select Off from the dropdown
    4. Select All mailboxes in the pop-up window
  • To change the column headings:

    1. Click View
    2. Click View Settings
    3. Choose Columns... in the window that appears
    4. Choose the headings you'd like to see and change their order by pressing Move Up or Move Down. A possible ordering could be:
      • Icon
      • Attachment
      • Subject
      • From
      • Received
      • Size
  • To turn off the date grouping from message list:

    1. Click View
    2. Click View Settings
    3. Select Group By... in the window that appears
    4. Uncheck the top box to Automatically group according to arrangement
  • To apply these settings to all of your folders:

    1. Click View
    2. Click Change View
    3. Select Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders from dropdown
    4. Check all the parent folders and check Apply view to subfolders. This does not work Deleted Items, Sent Items, Drafts, etc.
  • To lessen the size of the message header shown (Outlook 2013 only):

    1. Click the small up arrow (or caret key: ^) in the lower right corner of header in the message preview pane
  • To sync all mail locally, as opposed to just the last 12 months (Outlook 2013 only):

    1. See this Microsoft document for directions
  • To get rid of auto-formatting and random characters:

    1. Click File
    2. Click Options
    3. Choose Mail
    4. Change the option for Compose messages in this format to Plain Text
    5. Click Editor Options and then AutoCorrect Options
    6. Uncheck all boxes in all five tabs
  • To turn off the default Calendar reminders option:

    1. Click File
    2. Click Options
    3. Choose Calendar
    4. Uncheck the option for Default reminders
  • To change the Forward and Reply options:

    1. Click File
    2. Click Options
    3. Choose Mail
    4. Under the Replies and Forwards option, change:
      • When replying to a message to Prefix each line of the original message
      • When forwarding a message to Prefix each line of the original message
  • To get rid of the Favorites option:

    • Outlook 2013:
      1. Click View
      2. Click Folder Pane
      3. Uncheck Favorites in the dropdown
    • Outlook 2010:
      1. Click the Folder tab
      2. Click Show in Favorites
  • To keep extra line breaks:

    1. Click File
    2. Click Options
    3. Choose Mail
    4. Uncheck Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages in the Message Format section
  • To turn off Outlook's Junk mail filtering:

    1. Click Home
    2. Click Junk
    3. Select Junk E-mail Options from the dropdown
    4. Set to No Automatic Filtering
  • To reply to HTML/Rich Text (RTF) messages in Plain Text (must be done in each reply):

    1. Click Reply/Reply All
    2. Pop-out the message if it was not popped-out already
    3. Click Format Text and choose Plain Text in the Format menu
    4. There is a way to change this at a higher level, but the change means that each message will display as only Plain Text. Messages purposely sent in HTML or RTF will no longer display as intended. Here are instructions for changing this: http://oneminutegeek.com/how-to-read-email-in-plain-text/
  • To change the font to identify Plain Text messages:

    1. Click File
    2. Click Options
    3. Choose Mail
    4. Click Stationery and Fonts
    5. Under Composing and reading plain text messages, click Font
    6. Optimally, a fixed width font such as Courier New
  • To re-create Thunderbird's "Archive" feature:

    Thunderbird allows you to automatically move messages to an "Archive" folder by hitting the "A" key. To create a similar functionality within Outlook using Outlook's Quick Steps feature, follow the instructions below:

    1. Create a new folder in your account. Give the folder an easily identifiable name, such as "Archives." If you'd like to create an archive for each year, a new folder and a new Quick Step should be created for each year you'd like archived. Make sure to differentiate their names.
    2. Next, click the Home tab in the menu bar.
    3. Click the downward arrow for the Quick Steps

      Click The Down Arrow

    4. Hover your mouse over New Quick Step and choose Custom... from the dropdown.
    5. Choose a name for your Quick Step, such as Archive Message.
    6. In the Choose an Action dropdown, select Move to Folder.
    7. Select the folder you just created.
    8. You can set a keyboard shortcut in the Optional section at the bottom of the window by clicking on the Shortcut key dropdown and selecting the shortcut you'd like to use.
    9. When viewing a message you'd like to archive, either click the new Archive Quick Link in the Quick Links box on the Home tab, or press the keyboard shortcut if you created one. Doing this will move the message into your Archive folder.



Keywords:microsoft outlook mozilla thunderbird o365 office 365 look like 2010 2013 appear similar view minimize top ribbon reading pane bottom automatically mark messages as read turn off people pane screen body preview change column headings group by date list apply all folders auto-formatting sync locally default calendar change options favorites keep extra line breaks junk mail filtering html rich text rtf plain text archive inbox   Doc ID:40049
Owner:Ara M.Group:Office 365
Created:2014-05-15 15:59 CSTUpdated:2016-08-23 10:03 CST
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
Feedback:  22   3