Hey Outlook 2010, where are my message headers?


Earlier last week, we moved the Exchange team blog to TechNet (check out EHLO Again! for a brief recap and what’s new, in case you missed it). Nino Bilic and some Exchange MVPs pointed out that the blog had actually moved back to TechNet. Well, we’re glad to be back!

More good news: this week, our friends in TechNet informed us that You Had Me At EHLO is by far the number one blog on TechNet – and has been in that spot since day one! Thanks again to the Exchange community.

We’ve faced some issues with migrating downloads and we’ve been busy fixing URL redirects and links to popular downloads throughout the week. Sorry for the inconvenience folks – please do report any dead links in blog comments or through the contact form. On the positive side, the number of requests we’ve received throughout the week for the Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator (and its Exchange 2007 sibling), ExFolders and other great tools and scripts we’ve published over the years on EHLO tells us a lot about how popular they are!

Outlook 2010 and Message Headers

We love Office 2010, and it’s no secret that we love Outlook 2010 the most! We love the Office user experience and the ribbon UI. It brings a lot of great Office functionality and frequently-used options to the fore, without having to dive into multiple dialog boxes and layers of menus. It’s a great fit for today’s ultra-high-resolution screens on laptops and desktops, and as this Office Casual video shows, Office 2010 does very well with multi-touch and stylus/pen-based input as well.

The Office team also made sure most keyboard shortcuts power users are familiar with continue to work (for Outlook 2010, see Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Outlook 2010).

As part of this UI overhaul, we lost one of our favorite conveniences in Outlook – the ability to quickly access message headers. Although not something most users would do frequently, Exchange folks do frequently need to see message headers. Sometimes it’s for troubleshooting purposes, but frequently it’s also for the warm fuzzy feeling we get from knowing the message passed through the right SMTP hops, has the expected x-headers, or simply to check if it was processed by the wonderful antispam agents and what the agents really thought of the message.

In previous versions of Outlook, this was as simple as right-clicking a message and selecting Message Options. Quick. No fuss. You’re done, and you’re out. Like a Windows Phone ad. And back to your life.

That shortcut’s gone. No, not the Message Options window itself, but the convenience of the right-click. To access message headers, you must double-click to open the message, click File to access the Backstage view and click the Properties button. Yes, that’s a few more clicks than what most IT folks would like!

Access message headers with 75% fewer mouse clicks

The good news is – Outlook (and Office) is nothing if not customizable.

Here’s how you can add the message headers goodness back to Outlook by customizing the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab on the ribbon that is currently displayed. Check out more ways to Customize the Quick Access Toolbar (also includes a video).

As an added bonus: you can reduce it to a single click! That’s a whopping 75% fewer mouse clicks (compared to the default method in Outlook 2010), in case you’re counting, and 50% fewer mouse clicks compared to previous versions.

  1. Click Customize Quick Access Toolbar (it’s the down arrow in the Quick Access Toolbar) and select More Commands
  2. On the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar page, click Choose Commands From and then select All Commands
  3. Select Message Options from the list of commands and then click Add
  4. Click OK


    Figure 1: The Message Options button now shows up in the Quick Access Toolbar

To view message headers (or other message options), select a message and then click the Message Options button.

Bharat Suneja


Comments (18)
  1. Barry Gill says:

    Nice tip here Bharat,

    What I would like to know is will it be possible to script this (adding Message Options to Quick Links) as either part of the Office 2010 installation or via login script or group policy to have this added to every user's desktop as if I had to talk each user through this remotely it would take me longer than just talking them through the steps to get to the headers in the first place.

    Thanks

    Barry

  2. ExchangeGuy says:

    You can also customize the Ribbon in Outlook 2010. I've added 'Message Options' on the 'Main Ribbon' and on the 'Message Ribbon'. You must create a custom Group on each.

    Regards,

    Lee~

  3. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Barry Gill: Thanks!

    Here are some links for deploying Office customizations:

  4. im_brad@yahoo.com says:

    Also,

    You can find a link here:

    Open Message>Message Tab>Tags>Arrow at bottom right

  5. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @ExchangeGuy (Lee): Yes, that's one more way of customizing it – you can add your favorite commands/features to the ribbon for single-click access.

    @IM_Brad: Yes, another way of getting to Message Options, but still requires 3 clicks. :)

  6. Candi Thomas says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  7. Henry Wang says:

    Awesome workaround Bharat – good post!

  8. orcmid says:

    Now you tell me!  I had to figure this out a couple of days ago though I have trouble remembering that I already have it on the Quick Access Toolbar since the icon is not all that distinct.  However, discovering that which Quick Access icon does it is considerably easier than rediscovering where the option is buried.

    Thanks for the clean, welcome explanation.  I find I need to see these a lot, especially for digging deeper into what may be fake postmaster notices and other suspicious e-mails.  I use the white-list approach to Junk E-mail, but I still need this to decide when to white-list something new or to deal with mail that appears to be from a known sender yet appears suspect.

  9. Mickey says:

    There are a lot of things we like Outlook 2010 for. Removing this shortcut wasn't one of them. :)

    This does make it a single click – thank you!

  10. Meg On A Trip says:

    Must say, You Had Me at EHLO… Congratulations! :)

  11. Ratish Nair says:

    @Bharat – I am using Outlook 2010 for a while now. When I started with it, things were not so easy coz the shift from Outlook 2003 to 2007 was pretty easy and a lotta stuff changed with Outlook 2010. Say, I wanna access my OOF, change themes, customizing etc etc… but at this point when I got used to it, I am so much in love with the product.. cant think of going back… :-)

    You guys have done a great job with the product and this tip sure is useful. :-)

    Thanks,

    Ratish Nair

    MVP Exchange

  12. Peter Kremers says:

    I usually just click on the little downward pointing arrow in the Tags group on the Message ribbon.

    This also opens Message Options.

  13. Dave Herrera says:

    The down arrow under Tags in the Message tab brings up the Message properties.  This works both for new and received messages.  I don't know if it's the same for everyone but the Message Tab is what's selected by default whenever I open a message so it's right there.

    If you put your mouse over it, you even get a little window with Message Options in it!

  14. David Lee says:

    Barry,

    Yes, it is possible to script this making it possible to get to the headers with a single click.  Here's a blog post I wrote a few days ago that shows how to do this.

    David

  15. Fergus says:

    So I take from this that Outlook 2010 by default takes 2x as many clicks as previous versions.

    That's progress I guess… :-)

  16. Bharat Suneja [MSFT] says:

    @Fergus: The takeaway is that Outlook 2010 UI is optimized to provide a great user experience, and although some less frequently used options can now be accessed from a different location, you can customize it to make it even better than before! :)

  17. Mika says:

    Browsing this new blog from an iPad 2 is so much better – love the clean new look! Congratulations Exchange team – this certainly is the best Microsoft blog!!

  18. chantal.belanger@hotmail.ca says:

    Wow ! what a great post !  Thanks a whole lot.

Comments are closed.