Please note that this post refers to a feature in a preview edition of Outlook 2013 – features and functionality may change before the product ships, etc, basic arse-covering.

Have you ever started a reply to an e-mail, saved it as a draft, and then forgotten about it and found it again weeks later? I know I have. A new feature in Outlook 2013 (preview) makes drafts instantly visible. It’s worth noting that this is associated to another new feature – previously, replies and forwards would open in a new window. In Outlook 2013 (preview, but I’m going to stop mentioning that now) you have the option of having the reply appear on the surface of the inbox’s preview pane. You can turn this off, or if you have this option set on but wish to work on the reply in a new window you can ‘pop out’ the reply e-mail.

But what happens when you move to another e-mail mid-way through composing that reply? As the reply is in-place you lose the context… but you don’t lose the e-mail. At that point the reply is automatically saved as a draft, and the draft is shown as part of the original e-mail’s conversation thread. And so you can’t forget it’s there, a big orange [Draft] marker is places against the conversation. If you click back on the thread, the draft e-mail is the one that automatically comes back into view in the preview pane (you don’t have to expand the thread and then select the draft).

A nice feature. There’s loads more in Outlook 2013, which I’ll cover off in the coming months.

This article has 11 comments

  1. Flemming Riis Reply

    I like the popout / discard option directly in the reading pane

  2. Suzanne Reply

    Where is the Drafts folder in Outlook 2013? I cannot find my draft emails at all.

    • Darren Reply

      For me it’s underneath my user-created folders, and just above Sent Items and Deleted Items. I’ve also right-clicked on it and added to my favourites, so it also appears at the top of the navigation.

  3. Kimberley Reply

    I hate this new feature because I’ve always kept track of where I am by how many windows I have open. Also, if you’re replying to something old and outside of the current view, you can lose track of it completely. Can you turn this feature off?

    Also, although I have my drafts set up to save to my Drafts folder, they are (sometimes, but not always) disappearing from that folder when I exit Outlook and come back in.

    I wrote the same email twice yesterday because the first one disappeared before I even had a chance to save it when I clicked off of it to look for an email address. The second time, I verified that it was saved in Drafts. In fact, I saved it multiple times. However, today it’s gone. I tried another test without saving any settings and it’s still there. I wonder if it will be gone tomorrow.

    Seems like the draft functionality still needs a lot of love. I, for one, would like the old functionality back. At least it worked!

    • Darren Reply

      Kimberley, I can’t see any way of switching off the feature. You can change the period after which the message is saved, but I think that refers to new messages rather than in-place replies which are saved immediately when you move away from the thread.

  4. Nicky Reply

    I came to this site as I have the exact same issue as Kimberley! I really don’t get on with this feature and would love to be able to turn it off. I asked our IT manager and she also didn’t like the feature – her solution was to roll back to 2010!

    • Darren Reply

      The developers will be really upset by this news, but I will try to find out if there is a way of turning it off and will let you know.

    • Darren Reply

      Okay, this seems to do the trick… File, Options, Mail, scroll down to the replies and forwards section, and click on ‘Open replies and forwards in a new window’.

      • Jaime Reply

        Darren, thank you for this post. I was having the same problem mentioned above. I originally liked the concept of this feature, but in day to day practice, I have now started and forgotten about several important communications. I HATE this feature, and have now turned it off, thanks to your assistance!

  5. Ailsa Reply

    Thank you Darren. My ever disappearing and reappearing drafts were driving me crazy, even without going to another message. You have given me a piece of my sanity back.

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