MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010: Status Bar Changes in Outlook 2010

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by MVP Robert Sparnaaij as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010" series. Robert Sparnaaij is an ICT Consultant and has been an Outlook MVP since 2004. With his web sites How To-Outlook and and his participation in the online communities such as the Outlook Answers Forum, he tries to help people to work efficiently with Outlook and related programs and systems on a daily basis.

With all the big changes at the top of your screen, you might not have noticed yet all the big little changes at the bottom of your screen. The Status Bar got a major functional overhaul in Outlook 2010 which can help you with everyday tasks.

If you were to take a quick look at your Status Bar now, you might find it looking something like this:

As you can see, there is a lot more information being displayed now and some of these indicators are even interactive.

Reading Layout

My favorite option in the redesigned Status Bar is located in the right corner next to the zoom slider; Reading Layout.

When you press the Reading button, the Navigation Pane, To-Do Bar and Ribbon all minimize at once leaving just your Message List and Reading Pane open. The result is a maximized reading area.


Top: Normal layout

Bottom: Reading layout

The Reading Layout is a great layout for all sorts of scenarios such as:

• Catching up with reading emails (like after the holidays) or RSS feeds.

• Reading wider mails (like newsletters or messages containing tables) without needing to open them in their own window.

• When working from a smaller laptop or netbook screen.

• When working on a Tablet in portrait mode.

• When you simply want to maximize your workable screen real-estate.

Even when (continuously) working in the Reading Layout, you can still access all the hidden panes easily by clicking on its minimized area on the sides.

Connection State

Displaying the Connection State in the Status Bar originally was the main function of the Status Bar itself and of course; it is still there. The same is true for the Send/Receive status and clicking on it will open the Send/Receive dialog.

Strangely enough, the Connection State section itself did lose its interactive functions and clicking on it no longer allows you to quickly switch to “Work Offline” or “Headers Only” mode; these functions are now moved to the Send/Receive tab of the Ribbon.

There are many connection stateswhich Outlook can display in the Status Bar. If you have the Outlook Hotmail Connector installed, you’ll find that this now also nicely integrates with Outlook 2010’s Status Bar and does no longer add a Toolbar of its own.

Item and Reminder Counts

Aside from the total amount of items, the Status Bar now also displays the number of unread items and header items in a folder. Especially the last indicator is a welcome addition when you often need to work Offline as well; the count will indicate that there are still messages left for which the message body or attachment have not yet been downloaded.

Next to the item counters, there is the new Reminder counter. This directly reveals the amount of Reminders that you still have without needing to switch to the Reminders Window. This indicator is interactive as well; a click on it will open the Reminders Window.

Mailbox Quota

If you are connecting to an Exchange 2007/2010 server and a quota has been set on your mailbox, Outlook 2010 will show you how much space you have left in there. This button is also interactive and clicking on it will open Backstage (the File menu) where you can access several Mailbox Cleanup tools.

Too much information?

If you find the new Status Bar much too cluttered now and want to hide a few items or only want to see Outlook’s connection state, then you can turn off the items by right clicking on the Status Bar. This will reveal a context menu in which you can easily select the information that you want to be displayed.