Outlook 2016 Quick Tip: Where have my buttons gone!?

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and install Office 2016 Technical Preview.

For the most part many things look the same (except Skype for Business which is a quite different skin around Lync).

As a person who lives in Outlook I was momentarily paralysed with fear when I lost some of the buttons I use most frequently:

  • Pop out draft responses into a separate window
  • Accept/decline meeting responses

While I contemplated balling myself up in a corner and rocking, or taking to social media to ask Microsoft why they dared changing functionality that wasn’t to my liking – instead I just went with the “Oh well, something has changed and I don’t have time to figure it out. It’s frustrating but I’ll live.”

After a quick internal discussion on Yammer with one of my colleagues who had also found the same we decided to do some quick testing.

What you’ll see on the right side of Outlook is these options based on what you’re currently doing:

Reading an email Reviewing a meeting invitation Replying to an email

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  1. If you change from touch mode to mouse mode these buttons should appear in the “normal” place again.

    You can change the mode in the top left hand bar of Outlook (just above the File, Home Send/Receive menu bar)

    1. Thank you very much for this info. I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of those buttons and get the small buttons in the reading pane. I got so used to those so fast.

      Now if I could just get the zoom to stick in the reading pane I’d be happy.

    2. Thank you for the hint. We just changed to 365 and I like my accept, decline… buttons on the top too.

      1. Hi! Thank you for your sharing!

        Do you know by chance what needs to be changed in order to have the “complete” set of ribbon tabs available when replying a message without popping it out?
        To be more specific, these are the ribbon tabs visible by default (they do not change when replying in the same window):
        File | Home | Send / Receive | Folder | View | Help | Message

        While these are the ribbon tabs visible after pressing the Pop Out button above the Reply section:
        File | Message | Insert | Options | Format Text | Review | Help |

        Some of them (e.g. Review tab, for the ‘Language’ > ‘Set Proofing Language…’ action) are quite useful when replying (especially when having to use more than one language in a reply, e.g. for preserving the original language on some excerpts/quoted parts).
        Unfortunately, in order to have access to those tabs, one have to pop out the reply even when this action was not wanted otherwise.

      2. It’s been like that for a while, so I don’t expect it to change given the amount of screen real estate there is to work with when replying from within the main Outlook window.
        For me it’s just been a behaviour adjustment that when I want the extra functionality I just pop it out.

      1. Office 365 ProPlus is for the most part the same as Office 2016 – it’s just the subscription-based version of it.

    3. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
      I was definitely freaking out.
      What is touch mode anyway?

  2. Andrew Read’s advice above is SO helpful. It seems extraordinary that MS hasn’t made such advice widely available – as this is obviously a major concern for so many people. Thank you Andrew!

  3. I had lost the toolbar buttons too up top in outlook 2016. All I had to do was click one of the tabs (for me “Home”) and then pin it back so it can stay. The little pin icon will be in the bottom right hand corner of the toolbar ribbon/window just click that and it will stay. The icon then becomes an up arrow in case you want to collapse it.

  4. Is there a way to get the quick part option to show up without popping the email out? A faculty member used to be able to do it in the reading pane but it is no longer an option unless you pop it out

    1. I don’t believe so. I find myself having to pop emails out to do anything more than the basics.

  5. Oh, thank heavens. Who knew that touch vs. mouse thing was even there. I can’t tell the difference except that my pop-out for email replies was just gone! Appreciate the help putting it back!

  6. Do a google search for “mouse mode instead of touch mode” to see how to get these buttons back into your email so you don’t have to pop out the email anymore. At the very top of Outlook, above the Home tab, there are some options, one being “Optimize space between commands” and changing mine back to “Mouse” corrected this issue for me. Good luck!

    1. I have no idea sorry, I’m using Outlook as part of Office 365 ProPlus Insider Fast, so my buttons and ribbon are all different since this blog post.

    2. I tried to turn off touch mode through the Customize Quick Access Toolbar at the very top of the Outlook screen, it didn’t work.
      In the “Tell me what you want to do” I typed Touch/Mouse… and then changed through the option that popped up (it mentions “Optimize spacing between commands”), then it worked.

      Let me know if that makes a difference for you.

  7. Hi, the reply, reply all and forward buttons which used to appear on top-left side of an email (when using compact view) have now moved to extreme right side. Can we move them back?

    1. See if you’re using touch mode, as that tends to move them to the right. Set yourself back to moues mode and it should be fine.

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