Outlook 2011 – Get the Unread Mail folder back

In Outlook 2007 and 2010 for Windows, it always offered an ‘Unread Mail’ folder, where you could instantly see all of your unread mail regardless of folder. I use a lot of rules to push mail into different folders, alerts from servers, reports on stuff, facebook alerts, twitter, etc etc. I want the mails but just not in the mail Inbox.

Anyway, I tried to live without it, but it just irritated me until I HAD to replace it. So, here’s my step by step, it’s not rocket science, and about halfway through you’ll get it and probably ignore the rest… Here goes.

Outlook 2011 has a concept of ‘Smart Folders’ you should see them in the LH folders column.

Smart Folders

Open Outlook, click the search box.

Search This Folder

This opens the search ribbon, click ‘All Mail’ button.

All Mail

Now click Advanced.

Advanced button

On the dropdown (little arrows) that appears and will currently say ‘Item Contains’,

Item Contains
click it and select ‘Read Status’

Dropdown Options

This brings up 2 more boxes, you want ‘is’ and ‘unread’

Read Status Options

Now click the little + symbol to add another condition.
This time change the second condition to be ‘Folder’ ; ‘Is Not’
On the 3rd option, click it and select ‘Choose Folder’
In the pop up box, type ‘Deleted Items’ and then select it from the results and click Choose

Choose Folder

By now you should see all your unread emails, in all your folders, and your search conditions will look like this

All search selections

We now need this to be repeatable, so, now click ‘Save’
This should prompt you to give a folder an appropriate name under SMART FOLDERS, I called mine Unread Mail

Save and name the folder
That’s it, you’re done. Now whenever you just want to see all your unread email, just click on the smart folder you saved.
Also, you can now sort that folder in whatever way you like, my preference is to sort by folder or conversation.

Hope it helps!

40 thoughts on “Outlook 2011 – Get the Unread Mail folder back

Add yours

  1. Thanks! I don’t know why this isn’t part of Outlook already – and that we had to go thru this effort – thanks for sharing this easy fix.


    1. one more thing – I just tried to view this on the iPad – and found Smart Folders aren’t viewable on them – so I’m back to square one with regard to getting a folder or filter on my iPad. Any thoughts? Thanks


      1. That’s Apple for you! Not much to be done, I deal with a lot of Apple kit nowadays and it’s always a trade off here and there. Outlook for Mac is the most frustrating, it’s just not on a parity with Outlook for Windows, and until Microsoft change their ethos that “convert to Windows to get all the features” will cure all…. It’s annoying that they wear 2 hats a software AND an Operating System manufacturer.
        There’s no cure for the iPad thing I’m afraid, well, not one I can think of.


    1. Howzit Riaan,

      No is the short answer. Smart folders are essentially saved search, so they activate the search on the fly when you click it. In order to keep an unread tally it would have to continuously envoke spotlight to keep checking. That would send the mac processor through the roof.



  2. Thanks Luke! very helpful

    two things, it would be smart to also add Junk folder to the folder/is not
    and is it possible to move/mark the smart folder/unread mail so it will be on top of the folders list and not at the bottom?

    thanks again.


  3. Thank you very much. I just started working for Free People (an Urban Outfitters brand) and as a guy who has been a Windows user his entire life, moving to Outlook for Mac was a bit jarring for me.

    I missed my “Unread Mail” folder from Outlook for Windows, so re-creating it this way has been very helpful. Thank you =)


  4. I had 1 unread message somewhere in the last 2 year and this method found it. Very clear instructions, too. Thanks!


  5. awesome tip here!!! I can’t believe Microsoft doesn’t have it set up already. But sometimes I think they deliberately handicap the Mac platform. Oh well.


  6. Just want to keep giving you the love for Google as this scratched my itch perfectly!
    Just made the switch to Mac and was missing Unread Mail right out of the gate.


  7. can I move that folder to the top on the LHS close to my Inbox, instead of staying at the bottom?
    many thanks,


    1. the LH side list sorts alphabetically and has a heirachy (to a degree) where the officical folder of inbox, sent, deleted etc take precendence. You can give it a more alphanumeric name if you like ‘AA Unread Mail’ or ‘**Unread Mail**’ that should rattle it up the tree a little.


  8. Brilliant – many thanks, just moved to a MAC after years in front a windows machine, and could not work this one out – many thanks,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: