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How to Change Outlook “Mark As Read” Timing


When quickly scanning your emails, you often don’t read them fully before skipping to the next message but Outlook marks them as read anyway. This can be confusing and frustrating unless you mark them as ‘unread’ again but this takes time and effort and rather defeats the purpose of trying to quickly scan your messages.  

The default setting is to mark items as ‘read’ when you select another email. When you disable this option, all mails remain as ‘unread’ unless you manually mark it as read or double click the message to open it in its own window.

If you want, you can slow down how quickly messages get marked as read. For example, after you click on a message, you can have Outlook wait 3, 5, 10 or even 30 seconds before marking it as read. Here’s how;

  • Go to File → Options → Advanced.
  • In the Outlook panes section, click Reading Pane...

Check Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane and set an interval in seconds before it kicks in.  

That's it! Hope this helps you solve the frustration of not being able to control the read/unread function.  

All the best,

Steuart Snooks