Toggling the Folder Pane in Outlook

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get from Outlook users is, “What happened to my folder pane.”  It’s so easy to accidentally close the folder pane with an Outlook accelerator key. In this lesson, I’ll show you how to rotor the folder pane so you have complete control over whether it’s displayed and available for use.

The Outlook Display

the main display of Outlook features the folder list on the left side of the display and the message list view on the left. It’s easy to accidentally close the folder pane because it’s managed with an Outlook accelerator.

Managing the Folder Pane of Outlook

When you rotor the folder pane of Outlook, the following happen in succession:

  • The folder pane is minimized
  • The folder pane is closed
  • The folder pane is restored

When the folder pane is minimized or closed, it isn’t available. This causes much consternation among those unfamiliar with this keyboard command.

To rotor among the settings for the folder pane, press ALT-F1.

  • The first touch of ALT-F1 minimizes the folder pane
  • The second touch of ALT-F1 closes the folder pane
  • The third touch of ALT-F1 restores the folder pane

If you find you’ve accidentally minimized or closed the folder pane, press ALT-F1 until it’s restored.

It can be useful!

I like this feature. I like to have a lot of columns in my email. I can’t have enough information.  This ultimately results in cut off subject lines or columns being shortened and not able to provide all the information I’d like.  When this happens, I close the folder pane by pressing ALT-F1 twice.  When I’m ready to use my folder pane, I just tap ALT-F1 a third time and the folder pane is restored.

This is a nice feature of Outlook, at least it is once you understand how it works!

This tip works in Outlook 2007, 2013 and 2016.