Outlook 2013 – better visibility of draft messages

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.


    1. 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.

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

      1. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. thanks! I also did not like the new functionality at all and I just turned it off!

    It is wierd because I am always very positive to innovations, but in this case I was struggling to get use to it and i realize that it was giving me issues in managing my new drafts and emails.

  5. Hi there!

    For me die draft-view in my inbox was just working fine at the beginning, but just stopped working at all after updates I think?

    At the beginning I always had this “darft”-tag next to the message in my inbox, if I had already started to reply… Now its gone.

    I found something saying this is only supposed to work with exchance server 2010+ – but I used Outlook 2013 with an open exchange server & oxtender 2 and it just worked – until a few weeks or month ago…

    Any ideas?


  6. Did the draft marker feature roll-out with the final release version of Outlook 2013? If so, where is it located? I remember it in the preview version, but now can’t locate it.

  7. Hi, I stumbled across your article: Outlook 2013 – better visibility of draft messages by Darren · 20 August 2012
    I don’t usually post on forums but as your replies to the following posts helped me with the draft feature in Outlook 2013 I would like to ask you a question on it.
    The problem I faced on some PCs is that the draft appeared in the Inbox but then deleted the content of the original email. The email still appears in the inbox showing if it had been forwarded/replied to etc but the content is missing. This is the case if we look at OWA for the specific user as well. There is no way that I can find to get the content back. Using Exchange Server 2010 and Outlook 2013 Home & Business

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