Insider Fast: Improvements to how unread emails look in the message list

We heard from you that the recent changes we made to how unread email looks in the message list were not clear enough so starting with this week's Insider Fast release (15.34.170411), unread email in your message list will be better differentiated than before.

Unread emails in the message list will now be in bold font weight and will be blue, along with a blue dot to the left of the message. Please let us know how you like this change either via comments below or by using the contact support menu under help within Outlook.


Comments (59)

  1. Mike R says:

    Loving it so far!!

  2. Steve Marshall says:

    What is the date of the release this week? I just Auto Updated Office and elected Insider Release Fast, but the unread emails did not change. Thanks

    1. Hi Steve. Today’s release (the latest Insider Fast update) is 15.34 (170411), which has the updates described in this article.

      1. ABL says:

        Jeff – How do I install this new release?

  3. Erik H says:

    Definite improvement. Makes it a lot easier. 🙂

  4. This is much better. Thanks for listening to our feedback.

  5. flopipopy says:

    Looks great. But when will it get to the slow ring ?

    1. Thanks for the feedback. No timeline to share for Insider Slow. We’re reviewing feedback in Insider Fast, and will assess whether any further changes should be made before going to Insider Slow.

  6. JeanVis says:

    Just perfect!! Thanks for listening!!

  7. Bri says:

    Please bring back the bold blue for unread messages. As of the latest update (mac) the unread and flagged messages are very easy to MISS and that’s not good. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Bri. Have you updated to the most recent Insider Fast release, 15.34 (170411)? As described in this article, we now have bold and blue text, in addition to the blue dot, for unread messages. Let us know what you think? (Other text that should be bold and/or blue?)

      1. Joel Ley says:


        If you could change the headers when inbox view is set to “from,” to turn blue with a blue dot, then that would drastically help being able to tell if you have new mail, when your mailbox is vast and you receive lots of email each day. Viewing by sender is essential in that scenario


  8. Leo Mindel says:

    thank you – much better

  9. Rob T says:

    Sooooo much better!

  10. Ryan G says:

    I don’t like it, I wish i could modify the weight a little less.

  11. stephen boyle says:

    love it!

  12. Amanda A says:

    MUCH better, thank you for listening! I would still love to see the body of the message shaded somehow (almost like how the selected email is shown above, with the blue background) to make scanning even easier, but the bold/blue text helps immensely.

    As a business-user who does not have access to Insider Fast (our IT department has locked that down), I will anxiously await the final release.

  13. Julie says:

    Is the Insider Fast release (15.34.170411) only available for the Office 365 version of Excel? I have the latest 2016 version and when I update it, I’m not getting the new Insider Fast Release updates.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Julie. Insider Fast is available to all Office 2016 for Mac users, whether activated via Office 365 Subscription, Volume License, or Retail license (you can check in the About dialog of any app). Instructions are here to enroll. If the option to join is disabled in Microsoft AutoUpdate, your administrator may be preventing end users in your organization from joining Insider.

  14. Ben says:

    Looks great, I like it!

  15. Jose says:

    Great update!

  16. Jason Thysse says:

    The name should be BOLD also. To have just the subject looks really odd. We should also have the ability to change the color to something other than blue. Color blind people do not see Blue well.

    Also, now the sub folders are not bold when a new email is there. And it has a “blue” number next to the folder with the number of unread emails. This is now another problem that was not on the last version.

    Can you please fix these?

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Thysse says:

      Would love to be able to post a few screen shots with read arrows to better illustrate the things business users like. Let me know, would be glad to help. Thank you.

      1. Great feedback Jason, Thank you! I’ve passed your feedback onto our design team for evaluation. We’re continuing to collect feedback such as yours and will continue to iteratively improve and adjust the message list and folder pane experience.

        If you’d like to provide more details including arrows – please feel free to post up a new thread at under the category – Outlook Mac – and we’ll review and pass the feedback along to our design and engineering teams.

        1. Jason Thysse says:

          Is there a place where I can upload screen shots for enhancement requests? I believe I can help you make the viewing of outlook much approved.

      2. ABL says:

        I agree with Jason!! Tried to post a screen shot of how we used to have it but cannot find a way to copy and paste it with MAC. Also tried to replicate it but cannot select font and color changes in this dialogue box. But basically the ideal is:

        SENDER (BOLD, BLUE or whatever color ideal for user)
        SUBJECT HEADING (BOLD, BLUE or whatever color)
        1st lines or email summary (black or slightly lighter shade, regular font)


  17. Stetson Hallowell says:

    Hello, your email just arrived (4/17) I currently have V 15.32 (170309). The above is fine BUT not the problem I wrote about. The big problem is having an indication in the folder list (next to the parent folder) that one of the subfolders has an unread email. There is no way to know unless the parent folder is left open all the time.

  18. ABL says:

    2 things:
    1. This format does not help at all, in fact, just as hard on the eye and distracting. It is the SENDER that I’m eyeballing for, AND THEN the subject heading. If you had to bold anything for this release, it would be the SENDER. I am sure that is what most of us are scanning for. (Think about it, most people are looking for who sent them something, not the title). The Blue dot is COMPLETELY useless and distracting.

    2. I just head about Insider Fast since I am so desperate for a solution. How do I install this and if I join, do I have to install everything you put out? I usually avoid your new releases until something doesn’t work as most often you’re new releases (such as this one) mess things up for me and I often lose the functionality of something important/useful (e.g. Emoji’s no longer works, Reminders are messed up when you close them with that extra pop up of “Dismiss all” or Close… if you’re not in Outlook, it pops you back into it … more added work!!! If you are to add anything for a new release, do something practical: e.g. being able to put documents and attachments in contact notes like we used to be able to do in PC Outlook!!!)

  19. MBT says:

    Great to see that bold for new messages has been implemented. This is great start for this. I also hope that it will soon be possible to change the new message font color. Have it stuck at blue seems a bit restrictive and clashes with being able to color messages based on Category.

  20. Andrew Csontos says:

    Tons better. Thank you!

  21. Ramon says:

    Thank you for the quick turnaround. The blue dot alone was just not enough.

  22. Troy says:

    I am not loving it although it is much better with a blue dot than the entire subject being blue. Why can’t the unread messages just be bold black like they have always been in the past? The above description mentions that they are bold but they are not, the read messages seems ghosted and the unread messages seem like normal font. Just bold them how hard can it really be?

  23. Srikanth Vellanki says:

    Like it and it is better than before obviously. Need sender as well to be bold.
    Is it also possible to color code the emails received by defining rules similar to what is available on Windows OS?

    1. You can apply a category via rule, which will badge the email in the message list with the color of your choosing. There’s no ability to change the color of the text. Give categories a try and let us know what you think!

      1. ABL says:

        Jeff – what is this “category” rule? I have a lot of categories (probably at least 15). Would this mean if I apply a category rule I’d possibly have 15 colors running amuck in my Inbox? That would be even more of a mess than bolding the sender!

        I’ve not updated to the above release as I realize it is just as much of a strain to quickly peruse the 384+ emails I receive each morning by looking 1st at a blue dot, then a subject heading (that’s where your eyes would go to 1st). As mentioned, most users scan for the SENDER (makes sense, don’t you think? People await an email from “someone” not a topic). Bold sender is more practical than a bold subject heading!!!!!!

        As mentioned by other users, how hard is it to revert back to (black or blue) bold sender/bold subject heading format of before or just even bold sender, or option for user to select whether they want incoming mail to bold the sender or subject heading?

        Please please please give reply on this or where to find hope! I’m on my 2nd eye doctor appointment from the eye strain and have missed/overlooked more than 7 important messages since this upgrade. I’m now resorting to handwriting an going list of people that I should expect a reply and then searching for them each afternoon to ensure I don’t overlook a reply.

        1. Thanks for your post; we’d really like your feedback on the latest design in Insider Fast, version 15.34 (170419). We’re actively reviewing feedback from Insiders and making changes based on the input received. To join, click Help > Check for Updates and enroll in Fast.

          With respect to rules: you can create a rule to apply a category when certain criteria are met. For example, if an email is from an important contact you can apply a category called “VIP” which has a color associated with it. You can only apply one category via rule, so each email would only have one color. However, you’re correct in that you could have lots of category colors appearing in the message list if you use have several rules applying different categories.

          Another tip that may be helpful is applying the unread filter (via View menu or Ribbon). This will only show unread messages for when you review each morning. Thanks for your posts (I just read your other post, too).

  24. Linda Etten says:

    My unread email messages come through in the same black font as those read. Very difficult to keep track of what has been read and not read.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you may not be running the latest 15.34 build, which now has blue and bold text for unread messages. Please try out the latest build and let us know what you think!

  25. Barrett B says:

    I dodn’t get heavier weight text and the blue dot is annoying. Can we make this a preference?

  26. Phil Smit says:

    The recent updates go some way to making unread messages much easier to see. It’s a great improvement!

    However, is there a reason why you didn’t include some visual formatting on the tree folder to the left?
    Presently all you have is a small count in blue showing to the right of the folder which is not very clear at all.
    Could you not also bold the folder name so it’s easy to see which folders have unread emails?

    For nested folders I suggested putting the unread formatting on the collapsed folder until it is expanded, after which the formatted should move to the next folder containing unread emails or folders containing unread emails. The formatting would keep moving ‘focus’ to the next folder as you expand until you eventually get to the actual folder containing the unread emails.

  27. Randy says:

    Mine is only the blue dot still. Why cant I get it to go bold? It is a fresh install of Office from the Office 365 website.

  28. N.D. says:

    Very good!

  29. Cristina Taran says:

    I have version 15.33 for Mac and it’s not Bold and Blue. It only has a very annoying blue dot that makes it even harder to read. My Outlook is up to date which makes me think that version 15.34 has not yet been built for Mac? What can I do to get the BOLD back, please? It’s a nightmare seeing my unread emails just with the blue dot.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cristina. The changes described in this article are available in Insider Fast, which anyone can join following the instructions here. We’re actively monitoring feedback from Insiders to make further improvements to the message list.

  30. Tom Graunke says:

    WAY BETTER! Can’t make this change/upgrade fast enough!

  31. QE says:

    Thanks for being responsive and correcting this issue. Bold blue text for unread Subjects does the trick!

  32. Chris says:

    How about a setting where the USER can decide how they want this to look, instead of you forcing it upon them?
    Or, better yet, stop messing with the look and feel for “Everybody” to appease a few users and devs… and maybe give those few the option to change things for themselves.
    It’s a royal PITA to have to scramble around, with each new release, turning off things like “conversations” or “focused inbox” and trying to get back to some sense of “normal” again.

  33. Brian Forsyth says:

    Great how about adding it to the web version? … Why not keep the web version exactly the same as the desktop? … Maybe keep Windows and Mac exactly the same as well?

  34. Josh says:

    How does this work with rules and subfolders? what i REALLY need– is for a quick way to tell if a folder has new mail in it– from the root folder.

    I have 50+ auto roles and folders set up. I can’t see them all at ounce– so i need the root folder to turn bold or change color when there’s mail below it so i know to go look.

    this has been in every version of outlook for years– not sure why the back step this year…

    I am sending this with my gmail to assure I get it and not lost in a folder i never look at…

    1. Hi Josh, thanks for the feedback. This update applies specifically to how unread messages look in the message list. We are working on updates to the sidebar (where mail folders are displayed) so appreciate the feedback. At current time we only show count of unread messages in a specific folder, and don’t roll the count or other indication into parent/root folders.

  35. jeff138 says:

    Blue font is hard to read. Lose the blue font. Problem solved. Why is that so hard to understand?

  36. Rob Merrills says:

    I note that – recently – mails I receive from eBay arrive in my inbox with a red highlight dot as the first part of the subject – is it possible to manually apply this same sort of highlighting to other messages (from other recipients) that need to be marked as important (or for other reasons) – thanks in advance for any comment 🙂

    1. Hi Rob. I believe that dot is part of the subject line of the message coming from eBay. One option to call attention to messages is to set up a rule (based on sender, subject or body, attachments, etc.) to apply a category when a message is received. The categorized message will have a colored rectangle in the message list, and a badge in the Reading Pane in the Subject line.

  37. gil greening says:

    The bold font weight looks no different to the non-bold font. Now unread messages are indistinguishable from read ones

  38. O says:

    In Mac, I do not see any changes. The email of Office 365 caused me to miss important unread messages because it doesn’t differentiate the unread from the read. I wonder why our institution even both to shift from Gmail to Office 365 – A very bad decision.

  39. matthew says:

    I want the ability to have unread messages BOLD and in black. Do not want the blue on Outlook Mac.

  40. Mike Egmont says:

    love it. can you please make it similar in the OWA O365 also

  41. Mitch N says:

    I miss the clear contrast offered in Outlook 2010 for Windows. Unread messages were in a heavy bold black, whereas read messages blended into the background. I find Outlook 2016 for Mac difficult to read as the blue pastels don’t contrast enough with the read messages. Can you give an option for a much bolder contrast between the two? Thank you.

  42. Oliver Hennigan Jr says:

    How do I change font and color of unread messages in the message list in Outlook for Mac OS 2011? Thanks.

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