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How to create a custom navigation panel in Outlook

How to create a custom navigation panel in Outlook

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The Outlook navigation pane lets you navigate to different folders, mailboxes, and groups. However, it includes folders that you may never access, but you can’t hide. Here’s how to create a custom navigation panel that displays exactly what you need.

If you only use Inbox, Sent items, Deleted items, and Archive, this guide is probably not for you. Add those folders to Favorites (which you can learn to make our navigation panel guide) and you’re good to go. But if you have a lot of folders, access to multiple shared mailboxes, or are a member of multiple Office 365 groups, you may find the navigation panel a little overwhelming and crowded. It’s not enough to add all the folders you want, because there are too many to keep you organized.

Instead, you can create your own custom navigation panel that contains just what you want and nothing else. To do this, click the «Shortcuts» icon at the bottom of the navigation panel.

This will open the empty shortcut panel.

To add a shortcut to the panel, right-click the «Shortcuts» heading (right-clicking anywhere else on the panel will do nothing) and select «New Shortcut.»

The «Add to Folder» panel will open, displaying all available mailboxes. Select a folder you want to add to the shortcut panel, then click «OK» (or double-click the folder).

This will add the folder to the shortcut panel. You can add as many folders as you want from any mailbox you have access to.

This is not so neat, so we will add a new set of shortcuts and move some folders. First, right-click the «Shortcuts» title again, then select «New shortcuts group.»

This creates a new text box that you can rename to whatever you want.

Give the group a name (I chose «Work») and then press Enter. You can now right-click the new group name and add new shortcuts, or drag and drop the shortcuts you’ve already added. I pulled and removed 3 of the shortcuts I added earlier.

You can also right-click a shortcut and use the «Move Up» and «Move Down» options.

You may have noticed that you can’t add shortcuts to Office 365 groups in the «Add to folder» panel. However, you can add shortcuts to Windows folders. Open Windows Explorer, find the folder you want, and then drag it to the «Shortcuts» header (or the header of the group you created).

A «Link» tooltip will appear when you hover over the group header, at which point you can place the folder shortcut in the group.

You can also drag and drop file shortcuts to the Shortcuts panel, which makes it a great way to group your entire work into one panel.

You can’t add URLs directly from a browser, but you can create a shortcut to a URL in a folder and then drag and drop it as a file. When you click the shortcut, it will open in your default browser, just like any other link. This means that if you have a web URL for an Office 365 group, you can still add it to the shortcut panel.

Once you’ve set up the shortcut panel the way you want, you can use it instead of the default navigation panel. Outlook will open with the panel that you opened when you closed Outlook, so you should never return to the navigation panel unless you want to.