Quickly Handle Mail With the Outlook Mail App Swipe Actions

outlook logo

If you do email on your phone, swipe actions can help you spin through your inbox much quicker. Here’s how to use them in Outlook and how to change them if the defaults don’t work for you.

To swipe an email in Outlook, put your finger on the email and move it right (“swipe right”) or left (“swipe left”). By default, swiping right deletes an email (move it to the Deleted Items folder) and swiping left moves an email to your Archive folder. This might be enough for you, in which case, thanks for reading this very short article, and we hope it was useful.

If, however, you want to change the default swipe actions—or turn them off entirely—read on. There are several different swipe actions you can choose from in Outlook:

  • Delete: Moves the email to the Deleted Items folder.
  • Archive: Moves the mail to the Archive folder.
  • Mark as Read: Marks the email as read, but doesn’t do anything else.
  • Move to Folder: Shows a list of your mailbox folders so you can move the email.
  • Flag: Adds a to-do flag to the email.
  • Schedule: Hides the email until a time you specify.
  • Read & Archive: Marks the email as read and then moves it to the Archive folder.
  • None: This effectively turns off the swipe action.

You can apply any of these actions to the swipe left or swipe right action, and even apply the same action to both left and right swipes. This is ideal if swiping isn’t your thing, and you want to change both left and right swipe to “None.”

To change the swipe actions, tap the hamburger menu in the top left of the app.

The hamburger icon in the Outlook mail app

At the bottom left tap the “Settings” cog.

The Settings cog

In the Mail section near the top, tap “Swipe options.”

The "Swipe options" setting

This displays the current swipe actions. We’re going to change the “Swipe Right” action by tapping the big “CHANGE” option on the right-hand side.

The default swipe actions, and the Change option

This brings up the swipe options. At the top, it tells you whether you’re changing the “Swipe Right” or “Swipe Left” option, and highlights the current swipe action you’ve got set up. We’re going to change our action to “Schedule” by tapping on it.

The swipe options showing the current action and all possible actions

This will close that panel and take you back to the Swipe options, where you can see that the action has changed to “Schedule.”

When we go back to the Inbox and swipe right, the Schedule action is shown.

The Schedule action being applied to an email in the Inbox

That’s all there is to it. You can change your swipe actions at any time. If you’re worried that you might move or delete an email without realizing it, Outlook gives you the option to Undo a move action for five seconds after you’ve swiped. (This will display after you’ve deleted a mail as well because deleting an email moves it to the Deleted Items folder.)

The Undo option that's shown after you move a mail

A couple of handy hints:

  • The Archive action, which is the default left swipe action, doesn’t mark your email as read. That’s great if you want to move your unread mail to the archive for later reading, but if you want to mark it as read and then move it, you’ll need to change the swipe left action to “Read & Archive.”
  • The Schedule option only works in the Inbox. We love this feature because it hides your mail until a time of your choosing, which is great for quickly removing things from your immediate view without losing track of it. Scheduling is an excellent example of letting the technology do the boring stuff (remembering to deal with a mail at a later date), so you can do the interesting stuff (something other than reminding yourself to deal with an email next week).

Generally speaking, the Outlook client and web app have got a lot more power and functionality than the mobile app, as you’d expect. But swiping actions, especially when you’re using a tablet or touch-screen monitor, are one of the things we’d definitely like to see in the next iteration of the Outlook client and web app.