Outlook 2013 - My Folder icons

After upgrading from Office 2010 to 2013 I've noticed in Outlook there are no small icons next to my folder items. In the following screenshot of the preview version I found online, there seems to be icons available:


Has this been changed in RTM or is this a setting?

November 20th, 2012 12:02pm

I too have seen the same screenshot, and am desperately hoping they bring back the icons.  I understand the whole 2D vs 3D icons and the savings it has on battery life, and I can live with that.  What drives me insane is the lack of consideration by the MS Office team for the importance of picture recognition and its association to objects.  The entire Windows 8 platform is designed around making Bold Colors and Simple 2D icons the primary mechanism to navigation.  The MS Outlook 2013 approach to a "text-only" way of doing things baffles me.

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November 21st, 2012 3:13am

Does anyone know a Workaround (Themepack, whatever...) to get those Icons back again? I am seriously considering downgrading Office again just because of this...
November 29th, 2012 5:44pm


Click on "Folders" button to show icons (on navigation toolbar)

On "Mail button" Outlook 2013 do not show icon 

  • Proposed as answer by Sarah_Apel Thursday, June 18, 2015 9:16 AM
  • Unproposed as answer by Sarah_Apel Thursday, June 18, 2015 9:16 AM
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February 6th, 2013 7:13pm


Click on "Folders" button to show icons (on navigation toolbar)

On "Mail button" Outlook 2013 do not show icon 

February 6th, 2013 10:13pm

That is the folder list. The individual modules don't have icons. Press Ctrl+6 if you want to use the folder list instead of the modules.
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February 7th, 2013 3:28am

Amazing answer!!!!! Perfect because I was deseperate with that!!! Every time that I was looking for send items... no, not that mmm no ah! this one

:D thanks!!!

December 17th, 2013 3:34pm


The folder list in outlook 2010 showed the folder's icons, but also the individual modules. The "Mail" tab also showed the folder's icons.

So I guess there is no way to get back those icons? same thing for each email with the little envelope icon? gone?

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April 28th, 2014 2:58pm

Correct, it's a change in behavior from Outlook 2010 - they removed them to clean up the view, since all of the folders use the same icons in each module (except for the special mail folders). No, you can't add them back, other than by using the Folder list instead of the mail module.

You can drag to rearrange the folders in the list in Outlook 2013, which can be a bigger help in finding folders than the icons were.  You can also add the most used folders to the Favorites list.

April 28th, 2014 7:11pm

This "Change in Behaviour" sucks!!! Please give us back our ICONS. I just purchased OFFICE 2013 and its a dead product. Completely BLAND. How does MICROSOFT introduce such changes that destroy the user friendly interface that Windows has built over the years??!!!

My message to MICROSOFT - Do what you are best at. Don't try to copy APPLE. People who want Apple - will buy Apple. We want Microsoft - but you are pushing us towards Apple! Does Microsoft own Apple shares?!!!

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September 1st, 2014 2:26pm

Microsoft needs to be reminded that they are the primary BUSINESS solution for large CORPORATIONS.  Apple is the primary SOCIAL solution for PEOPLE.  Stop trying to mix the two!  Business people DO NOT want to re-learn the SAME functionality in DIFFERENT ways every couple years.  What is WRONG with MS?????  If you want to update/upgrade FUNCTIONALITY, then fine, but you don't keep changing the look and feel of the programs.  Business people become efficient and productive when they know their tools, and know them well.  STOP TRYING TO BE A SOCIAL SOLUTION TO MATCH APPLE.

September 17th, 2014 3:42pm

While this temporarily works, if I open my Calendar and switch back to mail, the folders icon disappear, prompting me to continually press ctrl+6.  How can I permanently add back my precious folder icons?

Thank you

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November 4th, 2014 10:50pm

Agreed!  This is extremely frustrating!  Would like a solution.
January 10th, 2015 2:46am

MS is clueless about what their users need or want. Win8 and Office 2013 are proof of that.

@FrustratingFolders, you are inadvertently causing the problem by "switching back to mail." Don't switch back to "mail," switch back to "Folders." Here's how:

Those navigation links at the bottom of the Outlook window (Mail Calendar People, etc.) can be customized. Cusomizing them will fix this problem. To do that, click the File menu > Options > Advanced tab > Navigation button.

1) Adjust the "Number of visible items" to control how many links appear in front of the elipses (). I set mine to 6 so that "Mail" is hidden when this solution is fully implemented.

2) Click the Mail entry, then click the Move Down button repeatedly to move it to the bottom of the list

3) Click the Folders entry, then click the Move Up button repeatedly to move it to the top of the list

Now you click on the Folders link to get to your email folders.

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January 13th, 2015 7:08pm

You can get the folders to always show up in Outlook 2013 by going to "Navigation Options" (File > Options > Advanced > Navigation).  Change the display order so that "Folders" is shown first by moving up the list. 

I also have selected "Compact Navigation" so it will only show the icons in the bottom left corner.

outlook 2013 navigation options screenshot

outlook 2013 folder view screenshot

For reference, the shortcuts are:

Ctrl+1  Mail
Ctrl+2  Calendar
Ctrl+3  Contacts
Ctrl+4  Tasks
Ctrl+5  Notes
Ctrl+6  Folder List in Folder Pane
Ctrl+7  Shortcuts

February 22nd, 2015 9:31am

I don't mind the changes in software, granted it takes some getting used to, but I find that some features with new versions can provide more efficient workflow.  Like Diane mentioned, if you are in the "Mail" view instead (CTRL+1), you can change the sort order of the folders (right click "Move Up" or "Move Down") which I think is nice if you have a large folder tree with some frequently accessed folders that are buried.

I don't think that the changes are purely aesthetic or glossy.  Businesses are made up of people as well, and I disagree with the dichotomy that was stated that business/corporations are separate from socializing/people.  There are studies based on cognitive fluency or processing fluency, which has to deal with the ease of which information is processed, and that a person's brain likes to think about things that are easy to think about.  By removing the icons and allowing the user to change the sort order, the changes could be considered by some to be simpler.  On the other hand some could consider the changes more difficult, but just because you are used to doing something the same way, does not mean that it is the most efficient way.

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February 22nd, 2015 9:53am

I created a macro that will automatically go back to your inbox when clicking on the Folders view in the navigation pane.  If you change your navigation options so that Folders is displayed first when you open Outlook, if you click on Calendar or Contacts, when you click back on Folders, it will show the Calendar or Contacts still in the main view of the window to the right, even though you are in folder view, since those items are technically considered a special type of folder as well.  The following script will run when you switch to the folder view module and set the current folder to your inbox, so that if you click on calendar, then click back on folders, you won't still see your calendar.

You need to have macro security in Outlook set to the lowest level.  Self sign with your own digital signature: Digitally sign a macro project.  Open the Visual Basic for Applications editor by pressing ALT+F11.  Put the code in 'ThisOutlookSession' under the 'Microsoft Outlook Objects' folder in the VBA project.  Make sure that the first line is at the top in the general declarations section.  Restart Outlook to reload the ThisOutlookSession script 

Dim WithEvents objPane As NavigationPane
Private Sub Application_Startup()
  Set objPane = Application.ActiveExplorer.NavigationPane
End Sub

Private Sub objPane_ModuleSwitch(ByVal CurrentModule As NavigationModule)
  Dim Ns As Outlook.NameSpace
  Dim F As Outlook.MAPIFolder
  If CurrentModule.NavigationModuleType = olModuleFolderList  Then
    Set Ns = Application.GetNamespace("Mapi")
    Set F = Ns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder = F
  End If
  Set Ns = Nothing
  Set F = Nothing
 End Sub


VBOffice - Expand All Folders

Slipstick Systems - Always use Tasks, not Outlook's To-Do List

Customizing the Navigation Pane

March 19th, 2015 11:54am

Very Useful, thanks!  That has made my life much easier.  
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March 30th, 2015 7:12am

It's amazing how much you rely on visual cue's but you don't notice until they have been taken away.  These changes made me feel like a dinosaur and I am only 32.  At work spend all of my time in emails and have done for the last decade plus and I am a very visual person, absolutely HATE what they have done in Office 2013.  Taken all colour and contrast and made everything flat and featureless.  It's almost like they have tried to make as difficult as possible to view and use.  I would consider myself relatively young and computer savvy, I work in software company myself, STOP CHANGING things just for the sake of it!!
March 30th, 2015 7:13am

I have created dummy subfolders in these folders, so now I can see little triangel close to the subfolder name. It is not ecellent solution, but still better than nothing.

To MS: It looks, that your marketing went crazy in 2007. Plese do something, otherwise next product we will purchase will be not yours.

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April 20th, 2015 1:39am

Or just learn how to use the new system... go figure.
September 14th, 2015 1:45pm

You mean, stay the same and never change? Sounds like an award winning plan on how to run a company. Let me know how that works for you.
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September 14th, 2015 1:46pm

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