Unified Inbox folder for recent unread mail items

I’m using Outlook with multiple accounts configured. This is a mix of Exchange, POP3, IMAP and Outlook.com 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?

Unified Inbox buttonOutlook 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; 2 keyboard shortcuts + 2 clicks.

Search: All Mailboxes

Search Outlook buttonThe trick to create a “Unified Inbox” experience is to use the “All Mailboxes” search scope. You can select this manually from the Ribbon after clicking in the Search field, but doing it via keyboard shortcuts will be faster.

  1. Start an “All Mailboxes” search via the keyboard shortcut; CTRL+ALT+A.
  2. Activate the Instant Search field via the keyboard shortcut;
    CTRL+E.
  3. Click on; This Week
  4. 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: To skip step 1, you can set your default Search Scope to “All mailboxes” via; File-> Options-> Search.

Using the All Mailboxes search scope allows you to quickly mimic a Unified or Linked Inbox.
Using the All Mailboxes search scope allows you to quickly mimic a Unified or Linked Inbox.

Recent Searches

Recent Searches buttonNow that you’ve done the search once, it will be listed under the Recent Searches button on the Ribbon. Up to 10 of your last queries are saved here.

Recent Searches list in Outlook.
Using the Recent Searches list speeds up creating a custom Unified Inbox folder.

This doesn’t actually reduce the amount of clicks compared to the method above but it does when you’ve customized 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 to set the Search Scope to All Mailboxes or you’ll only search within the current folder.

Extra Tip: You can add the Recent Searches button to the Quick Access Toolbar by right clicking on the button and choosing “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”.

“Today’s Unread Mail” alternative

Today's Unread Mail buttonFor 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.

Go Upvote!

UserVoice buttonIf you’d like to see a true Unified Inbox feature in Outlook rather than needing to mimic one of your own, then you can vote for the following suggestion on Outlook’s official UserVoice page; Unified Inbox for Outlook 2016.

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