Tip 307: Shortcuts for Reading the Next Message

Does Outlook have a "next unread message" feature?

Sure, but it's not quite as easy to use as it is in some other email programs. With a message open, you can use the blue up and down arrow buttons or keyboard shortcuts of Ctrl+> and Ctrl+< to go to the next message, read or unread. The button dropdown menus have a number of options, including one for the next unread message, but it takes a couple of clicks to use them.

If this (or one of the other next/previous) options is something you'll use often, you can customize your toolbar and add the commands to a toolbar for easier access and use of keyboard shortcuts. Unless you really need both the previous and next command options, only add the direction you'll use the most. This should make it easier to use the default keyboard shortcuts.

Open next unread message

Published October 19, 2005. Last reviewed on February 5, 2013.

  • Ajit Jayaswal

    This does not help us to go and open the previous or next message to read the email.
    the up and down arrow only takes you to the email wihtout opening it like other email programs.
    You still have to click to open the email which is a pain when you have a bunch of emails that you just need to open and go to the next one so that the emails do not stay "unread".

  • Diane Poremsky

    To use this, you need to have the email message already opened, then use the blue arrows. (I added a screenshot which should help.)

    It was written for Outlook 2003 and older, and doesn't work in Outlook 2007 and 2010. In Outlook 2007 and 2010, you need to customize the ribbon or QAT to display the next unread button.