I’m using Outlook with multiple accounts configured. This is a mix of Exchange, POP3, IMAP and Hotmail accounts so they each have their own Inbox folder.
This sometimes makes it hard to keep track of all the latest (unread) messages as it requires me to visit each Inbox and sometimes sub folders as well.
Is there any way to create a special view or Search Folder which combines all these Inboxes into a single list of (unread) emails?
Outlook doesn’t offer such a feature and sadly Search Folders are limited to the folder set or mailbox that they are created in. We can however use the Instant Search feature to generate such a list on-demand within a few seconds. To be more precise; 1 keyboard shortcut + 2 clicks.
Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
Thanks to the fact that the Search options are on the Ribbon in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, creating the initial “Unified Inbox folder” query goes a bit quicker than with Outlook 2007;
- Start an “All Mail Items” search via the keyboard shortcut; CTRL+ALT+A
In Outlook 2013, you’ll have to follow this with CTRL+E to activate the Instant Search field.
- Click on; This Week
- Click on; Unread
Note 1: Optionally you can change the arrangement from “By Outlook Data File” to “Date” or any another field by right clicking on the Arranged By column.
Note 2: There is a bug in Outlook 2013 which sometimes causes the Home folder from being selected again rather than keeping the focus on the Search tab when you search “All Mailboxes” and make search criteria selection on the Ribbon. When that happens, press CTRL+E again.
Instant Search allows you to quickly form a Unified or Linked Inbox in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013.
As mentioned, creating the initial query for Outlook 2007 takes a bit more clicks but once configured, recreating the query takes 2 keyboard shortcuts and 4 clicks or 1 keyboard shortcut and 2 clicks when going via Recent Searches (see below);
- Start and “All Mail Items” search via the keyboard shortcut; CTRL+ALT+A
- Expand the Query Builder via the keyboard shortcut; CTRL+ALT+W
- Via the Add Criteria button add the Received field (only needed the first time)
Set the field to; This Week
- Also add the Read field (only needed the first time as well)
Set the field to; No
Note: Optionally you can change the arrangement from “By Outlook Data File” to “Date” or any another field by right clicking on the Arranged By column.
Now that you’ve done the search once, it will be listed under the Recent Searches button on the Ribbon (Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013) or by clicking on the down arrow in the Search field (Outlook 2007). Up to 10 of your last queries are saved here.
Using the Recent Searches list speeds up creating a custom Unified Inbox folder.
This doesn’t reduce the amount of clicks compared to the method above for Outlook 2010 but it does when using Outlook 2007 or when you customize your query in for instance;
received:today folder:Inbox read:no
The above search query will look in all the folders which are named Inbox for items that were received today day and are marked as unread.
Note: When using Recent Searches, make sure you still start with the CTRL+ALT+A shortcut or you’ll only search within the current folder.
Extra Tip: You can add the Recent Searches button to the Quick Access Toolbar in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 by right clicking on the button and choosing “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”.
“Today’s Unread Mail” alternative
For a permanent indication of unread mail across all your accounts, you can create a “Today’s Unread Mail” Search Folder for each account and add that to your Favorites list.
It won’t be a truly “Unified Inbox folder” but it is the closest Outlook has to offer at the moment.