Reading Pane or Preview Panel Disappears in Outlook: What to Do

Have you ever opened up Outlook to check your emails, only to find that your reading pane or preview panel has vanished? It can be quite frustrating not to have a quick glimpse of your messages. But don’t worry, it’s a pretty easy fix. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have your preview panel back in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial: Restoring the Reading Pane in Outlook

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re about to do. The reading pane, also known as the preview panel, is a feature in Outlook that allows users to view the contents of an email without having to open it. If it’s gone missing, these steps will help you bring it back.

Step 1: Open Outlook

Open your Outlook application. It’s usually found in your start menu or on your desktop.

Opening Outlook is the first and most obvious step. If you can’t find the application, search for it through your computer’s search function.

Step 2: Go to the View Tab

Navigate to the View tab at the top of your Outlook window.

The View tab is where you can customize how your emails are displayed. It’s also where you’ll find the option to enable the reading pane.

Step 3: Click on Reading Pane

In the View tab, find and click on the “Reading Pane” option.

You’ll usually find this option in the Layout group of the View tab. It might be represented by an icon that looks like a small window pane.

Step 4: Choose Your Preferred Option

Select “Right,” “Bottom,” or “Off” based on your preference for the reading pane’s location.

Choosing “Right” will place the reading pane to the right of your email list, while “Bottom” will place it beneath. If you choose “Off,” it will turn the reading pane off entirely.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your reading pane should be back where you want it. You can now preview your emails without having to open them, saving you time and effort.

Tips for Managing the Reading Pane in Outlook

  • Adjust the size of the reading pane by dragging its borders to your desired width or height.
  • Use the “Reading Pane” options to customize how emails are marked as read.
  • If you want more space to view your emails, consider turning off the reading pane and opening emails in a new window instead.
  • You can also use the “View Settings” option in the View tab to further customize your email list and reading pane.
  • Remember that changes to the reading pane will apply to all folders in Outlook, not just your inbox.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the reading pane back to the bottom?

Simply go to the View tab, click on “Reading Pane,” and then select “Bottom.”

Can I turn off the reading pane completely?

Yes, you can. In the View tab, click on “Reading Pane” and choose “Off.”

Will changing the reading pane affect how my emails are marked as read?

It might. You can adjust these settings in the “Reading Pane” options.

What if the reading pane option is greyed out?

This could be due to your current view settings or a restriction set by your organization’s IT policy.

Can I have the reading pane open for some folders but not others?

No, the reading pane setting applies to all folders in Outlook.


  1. Open Outlook
  2. Go to the View Tab
  3. Click on Reading Pane
  4. Choose Your Preferred Option


Losing the reading pane in Outlook can disrupt your email management flow, but as you can see, it’s an easy fix. Just a few clicks and you’re back in business. But there’s more to Outlook than just the reading pane. With a range of customization options at your fingertips, you can tailor Outlook to suit your unique needs. Whether you prefer a reading pane to the right, to the bottom, or not at all, Outlook has got you covered. So go ahead, give these steps a try and reclaim control of your email viewing experience. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, there’s a wealth of resources and support available for Outlook users. Don’t let a missing preview panel slow you down—get back to managing your emails with efficiency and ease.

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