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Applying custom views to all folders at once

I have made changes to my Inbox view but also want to have these changes in all my other folders.

Do I have to change them one by one?

No, there is no need to do that. In Outlook you can define view templates to to easily apply changes to multiple folders at once. Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 also have a separate feature to copy the current view of a folder to other folders.

Defining views

Depending on your version of Outlook you can access your defined view templates in the following way;

  • Outlook 2002/XP and previous
    View-> Current View-> Define Views…
  • Outlook 2003
    View-> Arrange By-> Current View-> Define Views…
  • Outlook 2007
    View-> Current View-> Define Views…
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    tab View-> button Change View-> Manage Views…

Custom View Organizer in Outlook 2007 (click on image to enlarge)
Manage custom views dialog in Outlook 2007.
(click on image to enlarge)

Default Messages view

By default all folders and newly created folders are in the “Messages” view (except for the Sent Items folder which is in the “Sent To” view). If you make changes to this view, it will automatically also apply these changes to all the folders that are still in the default “Messages” view.

If the view of some folders have already been altered, then making changes to the default “Messages” view will not alter the view of these folders. If you are using Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, then you can use the “Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders” feature. For previous versions of Outlook, you can reset your views first or create a custom view template and apply it on first use of that folder. See further below for details.

Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013: Copy view to other folders

Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 have a feature called “Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders” which allows you to copy the view of a folder to another folder without needing to make a view template first.

You can access this feature via;
tab View-> button Change View-> Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders…

When you select the top folder (enabled by default) and the option “Apply view to subfolders”, you’ll apply the view to all your mail folders at once.

Apply Current View to Other Mail Folders feature in Outlook 2010
Copying a view has been made easy in Outlook 2010.

Note: The feature automatically hides special folders such as Sent Items, Draft and Junk E-mail. This is because these folders have special views of their own.

Reset all views first

It might be that you’ve already modified the view for some individual folders. This could be even something simple as modifying the column size. In these cases you will find that changes to the default “Messages” view will not apply to these folders. To prevent this from happening you can force a reset on all the folders by starting Outlook with the /cleanviews switch;

  • Windows XP
    Start-> Run: outlook.exe /cleanviews
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7
    Start-> type: outlook.exe /cleanviews
  • Windows 8
    Start Screen-> type: outlook.exe /cleanviews

Note: There is a space between outlook.exe and /cleanviews

This will reset all defined views back to default, clears custom views and will apply the default views to all folders (Inbox, subfolders, Sent Items, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Tasks and Journal).

If you have many custom views already which you want to keep, you probably don’t want to do this. In this case you can define a new view and simply apply that view on first use of a folder. This is less cumbersome than defining the view per folder.

Starting Outlook with the /cleanviews switch on Windows 7.
Starting Outlook with the /cleanviews switch on Windows 7.

Extra Tip

When you enable the “Advanced Toolbar” via View-> Toolbars-> Advanced you can very quickly (2 clicks) change a view on a folder. (This does not apply to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013).



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