How to create an "Inbox All" button to easily see ALL of your inboxes in one handy view (Microsoft Outlook 2010/2013/2016)
Aug 26 2015 Update - It would seem that this procedure still works with Windows 10 running Outlook 2016 (both the preview, and the released version, phew!), see details below.
Here's the original article.
Rafe Needleman, recently had this to say, about the need for strong email alternatives here:
E-mail needs software. Yes, you can do a lot with a Web-based e-mail client (and a lot more than Google currently does with Gmail), but there's nothing like a close-to-the-metal app like an e-mail client to mediate the workflow state of "I'm blasting through my e-mail, leave me alone." Even the most modern Web UI is a bottleneck to the e-mail ninja.
With Outlook 2013, is Microsoft is finally competitive again, for those users who want the option of an IMAP compatible email client? I don't know. This article is just a productivity tip.
Check out Microsoft's videos and articles at What's new in Outlook 2013. Hype aside, it does actually appear that Outlook has finally become more nimble, even when handling heavier, multi-gigabyte IMAP email accounts. That doesn't mean I won't still use web mail, but with a new unified inbox view, those occasions where an email client is preferred just became a bit easier.
Microsoft's focus is still EAS (Exchange ActiveSync). But that doesn't explain why it would have been so hard for them to add a Unified Inbox feature, something folks have long been clamoring for. A single inbox pane, for all your accounts. With replies automatically getting sent from the appropriate account. This feature's absence has become all the more conspicuous lately, given how pervasive it's become elsewhere. On PCs, there's Thunderbird Smart Folders. On Macs, there was Sparrow Unified Inbox. And of course, on most smartphones.
There's good news. It can be done, a button to have a look at all your inboxes in one view, just look above at the screenshot above. It's all thanks to MVP author Diane Poremsky.
Admittedly, the initial configuration of this little macro button that runs a custom search for folder:Inbox takes a lot of mouse-clicking, and success requires careful attention to detail. At least you only set it up once. This is most definitely a somewhat advanced procedure, mostly just due the number of steps involved. But you'll learn some stuff along the way too. You've been warned!
The Office 2013/ Windows 8 combination has demonstrated that Outlook 2013 can handle my tens-of-thousands of emails with ease. At last. Even with an ancient 4GB POP email archive opened, as well as recent IMAP folders, it's actually _fast, _using only around 140MB of RAM for itself, even when left running for days.
If you're ok with 2 clicks to get to a menu for that Unified Inbox you're craving, well, then head on over to this Recent Searches technique, where you pin this custom search to the Ribbon. Easy. Pretty fast to configure too. But it's just not as pretty or easy, for day-to-day use.
Honestly, I had intially hoped to be able to save a search folder, which could be pinned to the Favorites area, and look a lot more like a normal Inbox icon to click on, non-functional mock-up seen here.
You'd then be able to specify that special folder at Outlook start-up, using the File, Options, Advanced, "Outlook start and exit", Start Outlook in this folder" menu. Sounds good. Too bad it's a no-go, explained at MSOutlook.info over here, which says:
Outlook doesn’t offer such a feature and sadly Search Folders are limited to the folder set or mailbox that they are created in.
Indeed, that does sure seem to be the case, from my own informal testing.
But there is a way to get single-click launch of a "Inbox All" button you manually create just once. It simply launches the simple and effective macro by Diane Poremsky in How to Create a Unified Inbox View, published back on January 7, 2013.
Zane sums it up best here, in the comments below Diane's amazing post, saying:
THANK YOU!! I can finally move to IMAP without having to change over to Thunderbird.
Let's get started with Diane's instructions, now enhanced with step-by-step Outlook 2013 screenshots I've tested on Outlook 2013 64 bit on Windows 8 64 bit, but it should work fine on 32 bit versions as well.
1) In Windows 8, use selfcert.exe to create a certificate
1a) on Windows 8 64 or 32 bit, highlight the following single line of text, and copy it to your clipboard (Ctrl+C)
1b) press Win+R to launch the Run dialogue box
1c) press Backspace key to delete whatever you already have in there
1d) now just Paste (Ctrl+V) and click OK
1e) type any name you like, perhaps your user name, or full name, and click OK, I used "Inbox All cert"
1f) optionally, if you're curious about where this cert is saved, just paste this into your Start, Run dialogue (Win+R)
2) In Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), create your new macro that does the custom inbox search
2a) visit Diane Poremsky's site to read all about the short macro she created, as well as excellent training videos on using VBA, at www.slipstick.com/how-to-outlook/how-to-create-a-unified-inbox
2b) I've found one fresh-install system doesn't seem to like it when any dates are specified, coming up blank, so I've removed the " received: (this week)" from Diane's macro, and now it works, so just copy just the 6 lines of plain text below into your clipboard (no trailing carriage return is necessary) (Feb 5 2013 version)
Sub UnifiedInbox() Dim myOlApp As New Outlook.Application txtSearch = "folder:Inbox " myOlApp.ActiveExplorer.Search txtSearch, olSearchScopeAllFolders Set myOlApp = Nothing End Sub
2c) in Outlook 2013, from any view at all, just press Alt+F11 to bring up VBA
2d) expand the "Project1" section, "Microsoft Outlook Objects" section, then double-click on "ThisOutlookSession"
2e) click on the "VbaProject.OTM" window's blank area, then Paste (Ctrl+V)
3a) certify it by clicking the "Tools" menu, then selecting "Digital Signature"
3b) choose the digital signature you already created
3c) with the proper just-created "Inbox All cert" certificate single-click highlighted, click OK on the "Windows Security" dialogue:
3d) confirm all the info, click OK
3e) be sure to save the VbaProject.OTM now, by clicking on the floppy icon at top left
3f) close it
4) In Outlook 2013, allow certified Macros to run
4a) click FILE, Options,
4b) "Trust Center" tab, "Trust Center Settings..." button
4c) on the "Macro Settings" tab, select "Notifications for all macros" and click OK
5) In Outlook 2013, add "Inbox All" macro to the toolbar
5a) at the very top left of Outlook, you'll see the "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" down-arrow symbol, left-click it
5b) choose "Show Below the Ribbon"
5c) Yes, it's now below the Ribbon. Next, on the blank area to the right of the down-arrow symbol, right-click then choose "Customize Quick Access Toolbar..."
5d) from the Choose commands from drop-down menu, select "Macros"
5e) with "Project1.ThisOutlookSession.UnifiedInbox single-click selected, click Add to move it to the right "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" window
5f) click the "Modify..." button
5g) change the Display name, I used "Inbox All, then click on the mail icon, then click OK
5h) you may want to adjust the order by selecting "Inbox All" and clicking the "Move Up" button
5i) optionally, there are very useful icons that are not always easy to find from all ribbon views, like "Print", so if you'd like, grab it from the All Commands view seen below, you may also want to adjust the sorting order of the Quick Access Toolbar items in the right pane, when done, click OK
5j) now it's time to test it, just click your new little tiny "Inbox All" button:
and you should see this warning only once, click the "Trust all documents from this publisher" button, and you won't get nagged again
you'll also now see the last week's worth of email from all your accounts appear very quickly, just a few more cosmetic tweaks, and you're done
6) (Optional) In Outlook 2013, add "Favorites" for all your IMAP/POP/Exchange Inboxes
optionally, if you like Favorites, right-click on each Inbox in each of your email account folders, and choose "Show in Favorites...", then drag the window edge to size it just right so you can see all your email accounts at a glance
7) (Optional) In Outlook 2013, add the "TO" column to your "Inboxes All"
if you're running 1920x1080 with preview on in the right window pane, then you have enough room to tweak your new "Inbox All" view, here's what I did
7a) click the "Inbox All" button you created
7b) right-click on the FROM column header
7c) click the "Columns..." button
7d) choose the "All Mail Fields" from the "Select available columns from" drop-down menu
7e) choose "To" from the list and click the "Add ->" button
7f) adjust the "To" to appear below "From" with the "Move Up" button, click OK when done, it's all seen below
8) In Outlook 2013, sort by "RECEIVED" column
9) In Outlook 2013, check search is configured properly
click the SEARCH tab along the top, click Search Tools drown-down menu, choose Locations to Search, and turn on all checkboxes
10) Close Outlook to ensure all your hard work is saved
10a) there's a chance you'll get this popup when you close Outlook 2013, be sure to click Yes, then you won't see it again
10b) launch Outlook 2013 again, it'll go to whatever folder you specified in the File, Options, Advanced, "Outlook start and exit", Start Outlook in this folder" menu
10c) click your "Inbox All" button and you should be all set, looking at the same exact view as before.
This same procedure seems to work with Outlook 2010 as well, see comments from the below visitor feedback, right here.
"Sent All" view:
If you still have it in you, and wish for a Unified Sent folder, well, just repeat the whole entire procedure, using Diane Poremsky's Unified Sent script from her site, and appropriate naming adjustments, and it'll automatically re-use the same cert. Here's my all-dates variant of Diane's code to cut-and-paste, replacing everything that's in the VBA editor view already, so now 2 macros will be available at startup automatically, version Feb 5 2013 below
Sub UnifiedInbox() Dim myOlApp As New Outlook.Application txtSearch = "folder:Inbox " myOlApp.ActiveExplorer.Search txtSearch, olSearchScopeAllFolders Set myOlApp = Nothing End Sub Sub UnifiedSentbox() Dim myOlApp As New Outlook.Application txtSearch = "folder:Sent " myOlApp.ActiveExplorer.Search txtSearch, olSearchScopeAllFolders Set myOlApp = Nothing End Sub
If you wish to search your new "Inbox All" for stuff, no problem, just add your search words
Entirely different approaches to a single Inbox:
Please note, you may actually prefer an alternative approach, to simply configure forward all your POP and IMAP accounts to one account, referenced in this August 2012 Outlook.com Tip: Access Other Email Accounts article by Paul Thurrott, and this April 2010 Lifehacker rules-based approach.
But those methods each have some drawbacks, and are focused on just IMAP email. I have an archive of a decade of email, back from the POP days, sitting as a 4GB PST file. My Outlook 2013 has no problem churning through this, and no access from mobile devices for these archives isn't a concern for me. I've also maintained the simple ability to reply to any message, knowing that it'll be automatically sent from the proper account, the same account that originally received the message.
Upgrading from Office 2013:
If you just made the move to Office 2013 from Office 2010, note that it doesn't really uninstall the old stuff, like Office 2010 and the Outlook Hotmail Connector. Note, Outlook 2013 no longer requires to connect to hotmail.com or outlook.com email, it handles those natively now.
I may still use web based email like outlook.com, particularly if it ever gets multiple IMAP account support. This Outlook 2013 configuration would then just be a familiar, handy way to scour my decade+ archive of emails.
Just an FYI that I noticed, Evernote Plug In for Outlook 2013 sometimes crashes Outlook 2013 at startup, so it gets disabled, so I'm just waiting for a solution
Microsoft Live Mail:
The speed sure beats the now orphaned Microsoft Live Mail I discussed back in 2010 here, which began to have some issues as IMAP folder sizes got large (multi GB), and never handled photos well at all, scaling all pictures that added blur, and often losing the pictures entire. Given it's likely to be depricated, with the demise of the Microsoft Live branding.
My tZilla is a speedy beast of a laptop with SSD, but the point here is increased speed and productivity on my existing hardware, just by moving away from both Outlook 2010 and Microsoft Live Mail, my 2011 experiences shared here.
iCloud Control Panel 2.1.1 for Windows
finally works with 64 bit Outlook 2013 as well, even though official support isn't listed
First Thunderbird, now Sparrow? We need e-mail clients, please by Rafe Needleman, July 20, 2012
CNET's Rafe Needleman hopes Google's acquisition of Sparrow doesn't spell the end of competition among desktop e-mail software vendors.
Noticed an occasional nuisance problem, where you get 'Search results might be incomplete because items are being indexed.' Wait a while, and the issue clears up.
I have now tested this entire procedure using Windows 10 Pro with Microsoft Office 2016 Preview, and everything seems to still work pretty much the same. One notable exception is the certificate generation process.
So the beginning of these instructions becomes:
1) In Windows 10, use selfcert.exe to create a certificate
1a) on Windows 10 64 bit, highlight the following single line of text, and copy it to your clipboard (Ctrl+C)
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\SELFCERT.EXE
Visitor Kevin M confirmed this works on Outlook 2010 as well, right here in the comments below.
Therefore, I felt it was time to change the original article title from:
Outlook 2013: Create an "Inbox All" button to view ALL of your inboxes at once
How to create an "Inbox All" button to easily see ALL of your inboxes in one handy view (Microsoft Outlook 2010/2013/2016)
Thanks!!! I'm glad I came across this site. It was just the solution I was looking for (short of Microsoft adding that function). Worked like a charm in Outlook 2016. Your optional suggestions were also very helpful.
Had me wondering, exactly how many folks have read this article? It's fair to say that with 77,919 views of this page since it was published 3 and 1/3 years ago, customer demand for something like this inbox to be built into Outlook seems likely to be rather strong. And growing with each passing year.
Anybody know somebody at Microsoft that you or I could share information with?