Software

Add a secondary sort column to an Outlook sort

If you thought Outlook sorted by single columns only, you're wrong. A simple trick lets you specify a secondary sort column.
You probably know that you can sort Outlook items by clicking a column title. Clicking toggles between ascending and descending order. What you might not know is that Outlook doesn't limit you to a single-column sort. To sort by two columns, sort the primary column. Then, hold down the [Shift] key and click the column cell that represents the secondary sort group. In the figure below, the small up arrow indicates an ascending sort on the From column. The secondary sort, shown below, adds a descending sort by size, as indicated by the small down arrow. The difference is subtle. Only the two messages in the first group resort -- sorting the 9 KB message before the 6 KB message.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

27 comments
djones
djones

A Useful tip - thanks Did you know you can set your own 'sort' to work each time you open outlook? Right click on any field header, select Arrange by and then Custom. From this list click SORT and set the fields as you wish. There are other settings here to that you can fiddle with.

pianoguy
pianoguy

I work a group/exchange mailbox where we flag emails based on their content or work type. I sort by flag (red is highest priority) and then I sort by "received" and then I get, first, the unflagged (ascending order which I like), then the flagged (starting with gray for complete through red). And inside each flagged category it's still sorted by "date/time" which is important for the way I work this box. GREAT tip!

zEmily
zEmily

Cool tip, I knew you could add sort columns via 'Customize This View', but not about the shortcut. You can sort on up to four columns this way, and [Shift] clicking any of the sort columns again toggles that column between ascending and descending order.

lkuhlman
lkuhlman

Right click on one of the column headers and then click Customize Current View. Click the Sort button and you can set up sorting of 4 fields.

Radar1751
Radar1751

Even more subtler, two messages in the second group also resorted. Cool tip!!

In2TheBlues
In2TheBlues

I had no idea that this could be done...that's an awesome tip! Thank you so much for posting this and sharing it.

jeff3544
jeff3544

Been able to do this in excel, thank you for spreading the word on this function in Outlook (something tells me this isn't a new feature)! Very useful!

jff0327
jff0327

So simple - works great - Thanks

amisri72
amisri72

Nice and valuable information.Saves got time in extracting information

laurie.ward
laurie.ward

Love it. Thanks. It's the small things...

XLTR
XLTR

I've been using Outlook for about 12 years, and teaching it for most of that time, but this was news to me. Thanks.

SirWizard
SirWizard

This is a great tip, and it doesn't apply only to Outlook. I just tested it with Windows Explorer in Windows 7 (Release Candidate) sorting for example on file type, and sub-sorted by file size. You can SHIFT+Click the second sort multiple times to toggle the ascending/descending sort direction. This doesn't work in Explorer under Windows XP (SP3). I don't have Vista loaded so I can't check its Explorer.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I'm glad so many people are finding this tip so useful, and jeff3544 makes a good point. So many of these useful tips come from simple exploration -- "I wonder if this works in..." and often, it does!

RosaNegra
RosaNegra

To undo in Outlook 2003 just click on any column without holding down the shift key and it will sort by just that column.

PCF
PCF

I thought I was an Outlook guru, but this too was news to me, GREAT news! Thanks so much for the tip.

Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

... it does work in Power Desk Pro (v. 6), which I've been using to basically replace Explorer for the last several years since it can do things like this and also offers split windows, encryption/decryption, archiving, zipping/unzipping, and a host of other things I haven't even looked into yet.

terry.sampson001
terry.sampson001

... that's bugged me forever. Wish I'd known that before. Thanks.

martin
martin

It works, great. I like shortcuts very much, since these are more likely to stay from one version to the next. this tip works for most folders and columns. But it does (not always, depends on the view you selected) work differently on the standard "unread mail" folder. And (as one of max 4 columns) selecting the column "in folder" not always shows the expected result. Something to try.

john
john

I am going to sound like TR's Marketing team, but, I never ceases to amaze me the depth and scope of the knowledge of the contributors to this organization. TR has become a primary resource for my business to solve client problems and give customers valuable productivity tips. Thanks again folks. Please keep up the good work!

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