Last reviewed on January 15, 2014   —  12 Comments

Applies to: Microsoft Outlook 2013

Click to reply button to compose messages in the reading paneOutlook 2013 has a new feature: Reading Pane Compose, which allows you to compose reply and forwards right in the reading pane, rather than opening a new window to write your reply.

To compose in the reading pane, you click the buttons at the top of the reading pane. If you need to use a new window, you can click the POP OUT button. (The Reply / Forward buttons in the ribbon have the same behavior as the reading pane buttons.)

Compose a reply in Outlook's reading pane

Reading Pane Compose Tips

Drafts are saved in the Drafts folder for the account and are visible if you leave the message in the compose window and return.

If you need to review the message you are replying to, you need to pop the message out of the window. You can't select original message in the thread while you have the reply in the reading pane.

Disable Reading Pane Compose feature

If you don't like this feature you can turn it off in File, Options, Mail. Find the Replies and forwards group and select the option to Open replies and forwards in a new window. It's about halfway down the page.

Force replies and forwards to always open in a new window

The buttons in the reading pane are not removed but will open a new window.

DisableReadingPaneCompose Registry key

You can also disable reading pane compose by editing edit the registry or use group policy to disable it in a network environment. Note that you will need to restart Outlook for the change to take effect.

DWORD: disablereadingpanecompose
Value: 1

If you don't want to edit the registry yourself, you can download and run this registry file. (You may need to right click and choose Save Target as.)


Group Policy

If you use group policy to set this value, the key is under Policies:

DWORD: disablereadingpanecompose
Value: 1


  1. clhmedia says

    great article :) do you know how to combine multiple email accounts in office 2013 into one reading pane? in outlook 2010 and older all my accounts were visibel in one primary folder, now on 2013 they are all separated and make it a pain to review emails from multiple accounts :(

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Thanks for noticing the one problem with writing based on betas - i sometimes miss going back to update when the developers decide to make changes. :(

  2. freshied says

    Yeah this is a great option, but there is no way to get a spell check button on any ribbon outside of a 'pop out' mail message. At least I cannot figure out a way to add spell check to any ribbon in outlook except a pop out window. Another idiotic oversight....

    • Jaime Macdonald says

      I agree, spell check is vital, without it I find the Reading Pane Compose feature pretty useless

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Spell check as you type works in reading pane compose and you can use the F7 key to kick off a manual spell check.

  3. Marcus Woods says

    Turn spell check on in the options before sending messages. Gives you a chance to review your email anyway.

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