Sorting messages by read/unread status

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Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
I am using Outlook 2010 on a server running Windows Server 2008 R2. I want to sort the inbox and other folders first by read/unread status, then by received date.

1. I can sort by received date by clicking on the Received column heading, or by setting "Sort items by = Received" in the View settings, but this did not work with the Icon column. Is there a way to sort by read/unread status by using the Icon column?

2. I heard that the "Filter E-Mail" function and the Search > "Refine" function both provide an "Unread" option, but the "Filter E-Mail" icon and all of the "Refine" options are disabled (greyed out). How can I enable them?
I'm not sure why the filters are disabled - is windows search enabled? It might be something unique to windows server.

The read/unread state is not covered by icon - it sorts mail, meeting requests, receipts, replied to etc. You can add the Read field but it's basically useless as you can't sort or group by it (as you've discovered)

Filters (including Search Folders) can filter by read field. Or create custom views that shows only read or unread items. On View tab > View Settings, click Filter to set up an unread filer. Save it as a new view under Change View. Repeat to set up a Read filtered view.
Thanks for your reply.

1. I see that a "Read" column can be added from the Field Chooser to a folder view, but Outlook cannot sort by this column.

2. In Outlook on my PC, I can click on Filter E-mail > Unread, or Search > Unread, both of which set the search parameter to "read:no" and thereby display only unread messages in any view.

However, in Outlook on the server, the Filter Email button and all of the options in the Refine group on the Search tab are disabled (greyed out), and if I type "read:no: into the search box, no results are displayed. It appears that in order to use these advanced filter and search functions, Windows Search must be installed on the server, although Outlook can perform a basic text search without this.

However, I see that View Settings > Filter > More Choices > "Only items that are = unread" will display unread messages even without installing Windows Search.
Correct, Outlook can't do basic searches without windows search, but it needs it for instant search. The filters, which includes the View Settings, Search folders, Conditional formatting, doesn't use instant search, so yes, you can filter for items that are unread.
Thanks for your further reply.

I see that Outlook can search for text, and can filter read/unread messages via View Settings and Search Folders, without having Windows Search installed.

However, if I have numerous folders and want to view individual ones separately, sometimes showing all messages and sometimes showing only unread messages, then I need either to set up multiple Search Folders, or to have Windows Search installed and use Find > Filter E-Mail > Unread, or Search > Refine > Unread, to filter any folder instantly - is that correct?
I'd create a views, called Unread with filter set to show Unread messages. When you want to see unread items only, switch the view. Switch to the default view when you want to see all. If the view is create for all folders, you can use it on any folder.
Thanks for your further reply.

I have created two views: "Unread" , with a filter to show unread message only, and "All", with no filter.

1. Is there a way to put the buttons for these two views on the Home tab of the ribbon for quick access?

2. I see that after selecting a view, I can click on View > Change View > "Apply current view to other mail folders" to apply it to all folders. However, is there a way to set up a view so that when I click on its button, the view is automatically applied to all (or specified) folders ?
No and No. Sorry. You can put Change views on the QAT so it's easier to access but would need to apply the views to all folders if that is what you want. Have you considered using an Unread search folder and grouping the messages by the In Folder field?
Thanks for your further reply.

I see that I can use a Search folder to list multiple folders grouped by folder; however, each folder contains numerous messages, and I want to use each folder separately.

I have added the Change views gallery to the Quick access toolbar and will select the required view for each folder as needed.
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