Advanced Sorting In Microsoft Outlook

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 14, 2009
Updated • Nov 29, 2012
Email, Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook users can sort emails and other messages in the email client by clicking on one of the column titles at the top. That's a pretty common way of sorting emails and offered in other email clients as well. What many Outlook users do not know is that their email client is also offering advanced sorting possibilities.

This can be easily achieved by pressing the Shift key and at least two title columns. It is for example possible to sort by sender and date, title and date or sender and subject. The only important thing to remember is to press the shift key while doing it to get the desired effect.

Outlook will display the up and down sorting icons (up or down arrow) in the columns that have been chosen by the user to make it easier to understand how the emails were sorted. The first selected column will be the primary sort order, the second obviously the secondary with the possibility to add additional columns as well.

Here is a practical example. Lets say you receive lots of message from one email sender. You can sort the emails in Outlook by sender which would display the most recent emails from that sender on the top. If you wanted to sort these emails by size you would simply press shift and then click on the from and size column titles so that the largest emails would be displayed on top from each sender (another click on the size column would sort them with the lowest on top as it would reverse the sort order).

This sorting technique works not only with emails in Outlook but also RSS feeds and pretty much everything else that is displayed in tables in the email client.


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  1. Alexey said on March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Sorting doesn’t work at all sometimes, even in 1 column. At lest in Russian version
    Usually, my letters are sorted by date. And all new letters displayed above. When I finish correspondence with some person, and question is solved, I move all letters to Customers or some other folder. I point for the last letter from person, press on name column and on older versions I seen pointer pointed for last letter and below are all letters from this person. I selected them all and moved avay, freeing incoming folder. Thus I had only unanswered letters in folder. Now, when sorting often doesn’t work – I.e. it works, but pointer _often_ shows at random top letter – I have already 400+ letters in incoming folder, most of which are already processed.
    Awful version of Outlook.

  2. Rick said on July 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Trying it in Outlook 2007 and it doesn’t seem to work…

    1. Martin said on July 15, 2009 at 4:10 pm

      Rick it is working in my version of Outlook 2007.

  3. Tom S. said on July 15, 2009 at 12:55 am

    As someone mentioned above, doesn’t work as described for Outlook 2003. Don’t hold Shift down on first sort. Only on 2nd.

    Thanks, though. Been wanting to do this.

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