How Do I Read My Email in Microsoft Outlook?

by Tricia Goss

Microsoft Outlook is the email application included with the MS Office suite of programs. Outlook also includes a calendar, journal, task managing system and more, so that you can stay organized and focused. You can set up your POP3, IMAP or HTTP email account to read in Outlook and make Microsoft Outlook your computer's default email program. You can change how the reading pane looks and works, as well.

Create a Profile

Profile name.

Before you can add your email account to Microsoft Outlook, you will need to create a profile on your computer. Make sure Outlook is closed prior to creating a new profile. If you are using Windows XP, click the "Start" button and double-click "Control Panel." If "Classic View" is selected in the left pane, click "Mail." If "Category View" is selected, open "User Accounts" and then select "Mail." Click on "Show Profiles" and then click "Add." If you are working on a Vista computer, click the "Start" button. Type "Mail" into the "Start Search" field and select "Mail" from the programs list. Click the "Show Profiles" button and then click "Add." In either version of Windows, type your name into the "Profile Name" box and then click "OK." The "Email Accounts Wizard" will open.

Add the Email Account

Outlook wizard.

Follow the steps in the wizard to add your email account to Outlook so you can start to read your email in Microsoft Outlook. Select "Add a New Email Account" and click "Next." Select the type of email account you wish to add. If you are not sure, check with your email provider. Once you have clicked "POP3," "IMAP" or "HTTP," click "Next." Type your name into the "Name" field. This will be the name others see when you send an email. Enter your complete email address in the "Email Address" field. Make sure to include the "@" sign and your provider's extension, such as "" Type your email password into the "Password field and click "Next." Once Outlook makes contact you can finish the wizard.

Read Your Email in Outlook

Reading pane options.

Now that you have set up your email account in Outlook, you can make it your computer's default email application. Open Microsoft Outlook and go to the "Tools" menu. Click "Options" and go to the "Other" tab. Select the check box that says "Make Outlook the default program for E-mail, Contacts, and Calendar" and click "OK." Decide how you want to read your email in Outlook by configuring the reading pane. If you only want to read emails by double-clicking to open them, turn the reading pane off by going to the "View" menu. Point to "Reading Pane" and click "Off." If you want to use the reading pane, decide where you want it. Go to the "View" menu and point to "Reading Pane." Select "Right" to read your emails at the right of the inbox, or select "Bottom" to read them below the inbox. You can also select "AutoPreview" from the "View" menu to see the first few lines of each email in the inbox.

About the Author

Tricia Goss' credits include Fitness Plus, Good News Tucson and Layover Magazine. She is certified in Microsoft application and served as the newsletter editor for She has also contributed to The Dollar Stretcher, Life Tips and Childcare Magazine.