Windows Vista : Communicating with Windows Mail - Handling Incoming Messages (part 2) - Customizing the Message Columns, Setting Read Options

8/21/2012 4:00:21 PM

Customizing the Message Columns

The default columns in Windows Mail tell you the basic information you need for any message. More information is available, however. For example, you might want to know the date and time the message was sent, the size of the message, and to whom the message was sent. You can display these items as columns in the message list. Here are the steps to follow to customize the Windows Mail columns:

Select View, Columns. (You can also right-click any column header and then click Columns.) Windows Mail displays the Columns dialog box, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Use the Columns dialog box to customize the columns displayed in the message list.

To add a column, either activate its check box or select it and click Show.

To remove a column, either deactivate its check box or select it and click Hide.

To change the order of the columns, select a column and then use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to position the column where you want it. (Columns listed top to bottom display from left to right in the message list.)

To control the width of a column, select it and enter a new value in the The Selected Column Should Be X Pixels Wide text box.

Click OK.

Here are a few more column customization tricks:

  • To change the width of a displayed column, use your mouse to drag the right edge of the column’s header to the left or right.

  • To change the width of a displayed column to fit its widest entry, double-click the right edge of the column’s header.

  • To change the position of a column, use your mouse to drag the column’s header left or right.

Setting Read Options

To help you work with your correspondence, Windows Mail has a number of options related to reading messages. To view them, select Tools, Options to open the Options dialog box, and display the Read tab, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Use the Read tab to set various properties related to reading messages.

Here’s a review of the controls in this tab:

Mark Message Read After Displaying for X Second(s)Deactivate this check box to prevent Windows Mail from removing the boldfacing while you’re reading a message. Alternatively, you can use the spin box to adjust how long it takes Windows Mail to remove the bold (the maximum is 60 seconds).

Marking Messages as Read

You can also control the marking of read messages via the Edit menu using the following commands:

Mark as Read— Turns off boldfacing for the current message or messages. Alternatively, press Ctrl+Q or Ctrl+Enter, or right-click the message and then click Mark as Read.

Mark as Unread— Turns on boldfacing for the current message or messages. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+Enter or right-click the message and then click Mark as Unread.

Mark Conversation as Read— Turns off boldfacing for all the messages in the conversation associated with the current message. (A conversation or thread is a group of messages that have the same subject line, ignoring the Re: and Fw: prefixes added to replies and forwards.) Alternatively, press Ctrl+T. For this command to work, you have to group messages by conversation by selecting the View, Current View, Group Messages by Conversation command.

Mark All Read— Turns off boldfacing on all messages in the current folder. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+A.


Note that you can ask Windows Mail to display only unread messages by selecting the View, Current View, Hide Read Messages command. Select View, Current View, Show All Messages to return to the regular view.

Automatically Expand Grouped MessagesWhen you group messages by conversation (by selecting the View, Current View, Group Messages By Conversation command), Windows Mail displays only the first message in the group and includes a plus sign (+) to its left. You have to click the plus sign to see the other messages in the conversation. If you prefer to see all the messages in the conversation automatically, activate this check box.
Automatically Download Message When Viewing in the Preview PaneWhen you’re working with a Web-based email account (such as Hotmail) or a newsgroup, deactivate this check box to prevent Windows Mail from downloading message text when the message header is selected. When you’re ready to receive the text, press the spacebar.
Read All Messages in Plain TextActivate this check box to convert all HTML messages to plain text, which helps to thwart web bugs and malicious scripts. 
Show ToolTips in the Message List for Clipped ItemsWhen this check box is activated, Windows Mail displays clipped information (such as a subject line that’s cut off at the end because the Subject column is too narrow) in a ToolTip when you hover the mouse pointer over the item.
Highlight Watched MessagesUse this list to specify the color that Windows Mail uses to display messages marked as watched. To mark a message as watched, you must first display the Watch/Ignore column . Then click inside the column beside the message to add an eyeglasses icon to the column and to format the message in the specified color.
FontsClick this button to display the Fonts dialog box, which displays a list of the character sets installed on your computer. For each character set, you can specify a proportional and fixed-width font, as well as a font size and encoding. You can also specify which character set to use as the default.
International SettingsClick this button to display the International Read Settings dialog box. Activate the Use Default Encoding for All Incoming Messages to apply the encoding shown in the Default Encoding box to all your messages.
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