If the ribbon in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, or on open items in Outlook 2007, is missing, you have the ribbon minimized. When the ribbon is minimized, the File tab appears to be the default tab, instead of the Home or Messages tab.
Actually, the File tab isn’t really made the default, it just seems so because of the tab color. While it is an extra click to show the commands on the Home tab, its not because the File tab has focus, its because the ribbon needs to be expanded.
The solution: don’t minimize the ribbon.
To maximize the ribbon, either double click on any of the tabs or click the arrow off to the far right.
Clicking once on a tab will display that ribbon so you can select a command but will not permanently expand it. When you move the mouse away, the ribbon collapses again. This may be helpful on netbooks and laptops with smaller screens.
If you want to keep the ribbon minimized and reduce clicks, add your most used commands to the QAT or learn the keyboard shortcuts.
Note: In Outlook 2007, the main Outlook window uses the old style toolbars, not the ribbon.
Published February 5, 2011. Last updated on April 23, 2018.