Change the Subject of an Incoming Message

Last reviewed on May 7, 2014   —  16 comments

Many users ask about editing the subject line of messages, usually because they plan to save the make the subject more better reflect the content of the message.

This is possible – and simple – just open the message, select the subject and begin typing.  You don’t even need to do anything special, beyond opening the message. You can select the subject and type over it or backspace to delete all or part of the subject, or add to the subject.

After editing, click Save to commit the changes, or click close and don’t save to revert to the original subject.

You can also edit the subject when using a list view with in-cell editing enabled.

For information specific to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, please see Editing the Subject line in Outlook.

In an Open Message | In an Outlook View | More Information

In an Open Message

You can change the subject line of an open message. The subject field doesn’t look editable, and appears grayed in older versions of Outlook which usually means you can’t make changes, but you can still click in the subject area and start typing.

Click in the subject field and start typing

In an Outlook View

You can make the subjects editable in the Outlook message list when in-cell editing is enabled.

Note: In Outlook 2003 and up, in-cell editing works only when the message list is using a single line view. When you use Conversation view in Outlook 2010 or 2013, you’ll need to have more than one message in the conversation to use in-cell editing. If there is only one message, turn off view by Conversation.

In Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, look for the option in View ribbon > View Settings or click on the row of field names and choose Customize > View Settings. Click Other settings button to open the dialog shown in the screenshot.

You’ll see an option for Allow in-cell editing. Check the checkbox, then click OK, and you’ll be able to edit the subject of any item in the folder, without the need to open the item first.

Enable In-Cell editing

In Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, go to View > Current View > Customize view > Other settings button or click on the row of field names and choose Customize > Other settings.

If you are still using Outlook 2002, 2000 or 98, go to Choose View > Current View > Customize Current View > Other Settings button.

Video Tutorial

About Diane Poremsky

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by

16 responses to “Change the Subject of an Incoming Message”

  1. AJ D

    Do you know how one could use VBA to automatically change the subject line of incoming e-mails?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Sure... you need to use a run a script rule. I have a sample too - Change subject - remove the lines that forward it.

  2. Narendra Surti

    Can one search on the original subject text after one has editied the subject text?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The original text still exists on the message, so it should be possible. But I never tried it.

      In Outlook 2013, I'm finding the messages using the old subject - i did not restrict the search to the subject, which allowed it to search all fields, including the conversation field.

  3. Big VBA user

    Related question: Is there a way to toggle "Allow in-cell editing" on an off *via VBA*, rather than "by hand"? (It would be a great if there is!). Thanks very much.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can, but i don't have any good samples that use it. This is from MSDN:

      Property AllowInCellEditing As Boolean
      Dim instance As _TableView
      Dim value As Boolean
      value = instance.AllowInCellEditing
      instance.AllowInCellEditing = value

  4. Big VBA user

    Great!! I will look into this. Thanks so much!!

  5. Zsolt Ferenc Juhász

    Is there a way to see the changed subject in the Conversation List too. Because, thats the reason Why I want to changs the subject line - to group them together based on the Subject...

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, sorry. The field that is used for the conversation is not editable.

  6. Alfonso Gonzalez

    If the subject is changed in my outlook (inbox), this change is replicated in the Exchange DB? In other words, if I have two computers running Outlook synced with an Exchange Server and I change the subject of an email in computer A, is this change replicated in computer B when I open Outlook in such computer?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, it is synced to the server and down to outlook (or smart phones).

  7. Gajeswari

    thank u so much working

  8. kurt

    is there a way to make just one column editable. I want a column next to subject column to be editable but i do not want the subject line to be editable.

  9. sheena steventon

    if my email are shared, how can I tell who the person was that changed the subject filed ?

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