Microsoft Outlook 2003 has many “features”
designed to make the user experience more pleasant, such as AutoPreview,
Reading Panes, and Group-By settings. However, many users prefer the less
feature-laden interface of Outlook versions past. For the traditionalist, the
features equate to clutter that needs to be removed.

Unfortunately, and inexplicably, changing the current view
settings in all Outlook 2003 folders at once is not as intuitive as it should
be. Outlook 2003 implies that users will have to separately change the view for
each individual folder. Changing the parameters of the Current View would seem
to be your best choice for achieving a global change, but the changes do not
translate to all of the Outlook folders.

However, there is in fact a way to get your preferred
settings applied to all folders. It is one of those odd user-discovered tricks
that work, but defy rational explanation.

Credit where credit is due

A note of acknowledgement and gratitude goes to Izzy, who
posted the meat of Solution 1 on Ask Leo.

Solution 1

The steps outlined here will turn off AutoPreview, Reading
Panes, and all Group-By settings. Keep in mind that you can use this method to
apply other changes based on your personal preferences.

  1. Create
    a Shortcut for OUTLOOK.EXE and place it on the Desktop.
  2. Edit
    the Shortcut properties and add the /cleanviews
    switch to the target line so it looks something like this:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE" /cleanviews
  1. Start
    Outlook using the shortcut.
  2. Select
    the Inbox folder.
  3. Navigate
    the menus to View | Arrange By | Current Views | Define View.
  4. Select
    Messages and click the Modify button.
  5. Click
    the Group By button and uncheck Automatically Group.
  6. Click
  7. Click
    the Other Settings button and set Reading Pane to Off.
  8. Click
    OK, twice.
  9. Now
    this is the tricky part! Click on any other view listed in the dialog box
    OTHER THAN Messages and click Apply (Last 7 days, for example).
  10. Navigate
    the menus again to View | Arrange By | Current Views | Define View.
  11. Now
    choose Messages and click Apply.

Your new custom view will now be applied to all of your
Outlook folders. However, this will not happen instantly. It will take some
time for Outlook to work its way through your folders. If you have numerous
folders and a deep hierarchy, you may have to click on the intended folder,
then click another folder, and then click the intended folder again to get your
view to display correctly.

Not exactly an elegant solution to be sure, but it has
worked in all of the testing we have done at TechRepublic. If you encounter
problems, please share it with us in the article discussion; perhaps we can
figure out a better solution.

Solution 2

One alternative to the first solution is to use Outlook 2003
command line switches to turn off AutoPreview and the Reading Pane. This
solution will remove those features but at the cost of some flexibility–the
switches eliminate access to either feature during that Outlook session. Using
the same Shortcut from Solution 1, you would change the target line in the
properties dialog box to look something like this:

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