Editing the Subject line in Outlook

Last reviewed on January 7, 2014

As many users know, you can edit the subject line in a message. This makes it easier to find messages especially when they don't include a subject.

If you are new to editing the subject, simply open the message, type in the subject field and save. We have more information and a video tutorial at Change the Subject of an Incoming Message

In older versions of Outlook the Message list shows the edited subject:

Subject line and message list in older versions of Outlook

In Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, when you use the default view with the Date (Conversation) setting, you'll see the original subject in the message list:

Subject line and message list in Outlook 2010

As you can see, the edited subject shows in the preview pane but not in the message list, because you are only changing the subject, not the conversation title, and the new Conversation view uses the Conversation field.

When you turn off the Show messages in conversation view, Outlook will display the edited subject, just as it does in older versions of Outlook.

Edit Subject and Disable Conversation View Tutorial

Show in Conversation menu in Outlook 2010 SP1To turn off Show messages in conversation either:

Switch to the View ribbon and deselect the Show in Conversation option
Right click on the row of field names above the message list and click Show message in conversation to deselect it.

Changes can't be Saved error message

When you edit a subject field of a message that contains an attachment and the attachment is open, you'll receive an error message:

Your changes cannot be saved because you don't have permission to modify some or all of the items in this folder. Do you want to save a copy of this item in the default folder for the item?

Changes can't be saved warning dialog

To avoid this, you need to close the attachment first, then save and close the message with the edited subject field.

Edit the Subject Line and Turn off Show in Conversations Video Tutorial

Written by

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.

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