Last reviewed on August 4, 2015   —  12 Comments

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 and newer, 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.

Compact Header in Outlook 2013 and up

Outlook 2013 SP1 and newer allow users to collapse the message header to a more compact size. When the header is collapsed, the subject field is NOT editable.

Click the caret in the lower right to expand the header for editing.
click the caret to expand the header for editing.

Edit Subject and Disable Conversation View Tutorial

To 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.
Show in Conversation menu in Outlook 2010 SP1

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


  1. Kevin says

    This is a real step backward by Microsoft. I want to change the subject *and* I want to use conversation view. In older version of Outlook, you could have a conversation properly categorized (and viewed) as a conversation, but you could *also* change the subject line of specific messages.

    This was handy because you could still tell that the message was part of the conversation, even though the subject was different.

    So, did MS goof, or is there a setting somewhere so that I can get that old behavior back?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The conversation view in older versions worked differently - and unfortunately there is not a setting to change it, other paying attention to the reading pane header. (I'd also probably add a category for Edited so I'd know it was edited.)

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It works the same as in Outlook 2010. Open the message, type in the subject field then Save. If you use conversation view, the change is only visible in the reading pane and open messages.

  2. Cara says

    Diane, Thanks for your quick response. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work. I eliminated the conversation view, but Outlook 365 won't let me change the subject. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account? Did you open the message ? (it won't work in the reading pane or message list.)

  3. Colin says

    Hi Gang,
    Another solution would be to send it to yourself, and change text in the subject line.

  4. ChrisP says

    I like to put an asterisk in front of any changes I make to the original subject. That allows me to see that i have added the change.

    Also, if you need to change several subjects you can right click on the 'Subject' column header then select 'Other Settings' and then 'Allow In-Cell Editing' Save and exit.

    That allows you to edit the subject without opening the email by single clicking, twice. ) Like how you would rename a file)

  5. Simao Campos says

    There are two behaviors, at least with Outlook 2010 - whether you are connected to the Exchange server in cached mode or not.

    In order for the modified subject line to appear in the Outlook client (when in Conversation mode), you need to edit the subject line text when connected directly to the server, not in cached mode. For some reason, when in cached mode, the Conversation will stick to the original subject text, even if the actual subject line is changed when you edit and save the changes.

    How you change from cached to non-cached mode will depend on your installation; the following page may help you: One simple approach could be to have two profiles, one using cached mode and another connected online to the Exchange server.

  6. sunk818 says

    I'd prefer conversation view to look like iMessages or even the comments on this forum post. It has the minimal amount of information so it helps to read through the stream much easier. Anything that is quoted or re-quoted would be hidden, unless we chose to expand the e-mail. The Clean Up feature helps remove the duplicates... but the Conversation View is just so outdated.

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