OWA (Outlook Web App): Basic use of e-mail

Separate instructions are available for configuring OWA’s basic settings. The instructions cover topics such as changing the language and profile picture, adding a signature and using a shared mail folder.


Detailed help

Microsoft updates Office 365 services sporadically, thus functional and layout changes can occur. Therefore there can be discrepancies between these instructions and your updated version. Please use the feedback link at the bottom of this page in case you notice any significant discrepancies.

Basic use

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  • The figure below shows the OWA e-mail view.
  • The e-mail folders are shown on the left (1)
  • The middle column (2) is currently displaying the Inbox folder.
  • The column on the right (3) is showing the first message in the Inbox folder.
  • In the top left corner (4) is the waffle button for switching between OWA applications.
  • You can take applications from the waffle button menu and pin them to the nav bar (5) to make it easier to switch between them. The nav bar in the figure also shows the People application.
  • Click on the cog icon (6) to change the OWA settings. You can change the language of the OWA user interface or create a signature for your e-mail messages, for example.
  • Click on the question mark (7) to access the OWA search function.
  • Click the waffle button in the top left corner in the figure below (1) to switch between your mail, calendar and other services.
  • Click the top row (2) to control how the applications are displayed. Choose All to display all applications available to you. The number of available applications may change when new functionality is introduced. Different applications may be displayed for different user groups.

  • You can take applications from the waffle button menu and pin them to the nav bar (3).

Switching between applications

  • Click the waffle button.
  • Click the application you wish to launch.

Pinning an application to the top bar

  • This example shows how to pin the calendar application to the top bar.
  • Click the waffle button (1).
  • Click the three dots at the top corner of the application button (2).
  • In the menu that pops up, click More > Pin to nav bar (3).
  • The application is now easily accessible on the nav bar.

Sending e-mail

  • To compose a new e-mail message, click New at the top left corner.
  • Type the recipient’s name in the To field (1).
  • In the Cc field (2), enter the recipients of copies of this e-mail.
  • Type the subject of your message in (3).
  • Type your message in (4).
  • You can find a Send button at the top and bottom of the window (5) along with a button for attaching files to your e-mail message.

Printing e-mail

  • You can print the message using the drop-down menu at the top right. Click the three dots and choose Print.
  • This opens a new window.
  • Click Print (1).
  • Click OK (2).

Sorting messages

  • You can sort messages by date, sender or some other criterion via the Filter menu.
  • Click Filter to launch the menu (1).
  • Click Sort by.
  • Choose your sorting criterion. The arrow to the left of the criterion (2) indicates whether the messages are sorted in ascending or descending order. You can switch this by clicking the criterion again.


Showing messages as conversations

OWA normally shows messages in chronological order. Messages concerning the same subject may be far apart, and getting an overall impression may be difficult. When you change to the conversation view, all messages related to the same subject are grouped together, and only the first message of the thread is shown in the message list. Change the view as follows:

  • Open the Filter menu.
  • Choose Show as > Conversations.
  • In this example, the selected message (1) is shown in the middle column (2) as a conversation. All of the messages that are part of the same chain are shown consecutively, making it easy to follow the conversation.

Categorising messages

You can categorise messages as follows:

  • Right-click the message heading field to open the menu.
  • Click Categorize and select a category for the message.
  • You can add new categories under Manage categories....
  • The categorisation is shown by colour coding. A message can be included in several categories.
  • The colours indicating the category are shown near the top of the message in the message list.

Message search

Follow these steps to search old messages using search words:

  • Click Search Mail and People.
  • Type your search term in the text field (1)
  • Press ENTER.
  • The search results are shown at (1).
  • You can limit your search to messages from a specific sender (2).
  • You can also limit your search by time (3)
  • Close the search by clicking Exit Search (4).

Creating a new folder

Follow these steps to add new folders:

  • Right-click the folder for which you want to create a sub-folder.
  • Click Create new folder.
  • Enter a name for the new folder and press ENTER.

Moving messages between folders

  • You can move messages between folders.
  • To copy a message to another folder, keep the Ctrl button pressed while dragging the message.

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Message rules

You can configure Outlook web app to automatically perform certain operations on messages that meet the specified criteria. For example, you can direct all messages from a certain sender to a specific folder, or all messages containing certain keywords to a specific folder. The processing of messages is based on rules. You can create new rules yourself. Using a message as a template is the easiest way to create rules.

If you create rules for junk e-mail, remember to check your junk mail folder from time to time. The rules are not infallible and they can sometimes direct normal mail to the wrong folder.

It is recommended that you handle junk e-mail according to these instructions

Follow these steps to create rules:

  • Right-click the message you want to create a rule for.

  • Choose Create rule.

  • Enter a name for the rule (1).
  • Choose the attribute based on which the rule is created. OWA automatically creates the rules shown at (2) in the figure below. You can delete rules by clicking the X to their left.
  • You can add new rules by clicking Add condition (3).
  • Choose what should be done to the message (4).
  • In this example, the message is directed to a folder other than Inbox. Please refer to the figure below.
  • To add exceptions to the rule, click Add exception (5).
  • Click OK (6) to save the rule.
  • Click Select one.
  • Choose Move, copy, or delete > Move the message to folder.
  • Select the folder you want the messages to be moved to (1)
  • Click OK (2).
  • The rule shows the folder to which messages will be moved.
  • Click OK.
  • The rule has now been created.

To modify a rule at a later time:

  • Open the drop-down menu using the cog icon at the top right corner.
  • Click Mail.
  • Click Inbox and sweep rules.
  • There may be several rules.Choose the rule you want to modify.
  • Modify the rule by clicking the pen icon.
  • To delete a rule, click the trash icon.

Notifications of new messages

By default, OWA alerts you of new messages with sound and visual notifications. If you feel that these disrupt your work, you can change the default settings as follows:

  • Click the cog icon > Mail.
  • Click Message options.
  • Change the settings (1).
  • Save your changes by clicking Save (2).

Restoring deleted messages

Deleted messages are first moved to the Deleted Items folder. After a certain period of time, messages from the Deleted Items folder will be transferred to a hidden Deleted folder, but they can still be recovered from there. Read more about deleting messages.

NOTE: Mail administration does not recover users’ mailboxes except under special circumstances. The user can recover messages or other deleted items themselves within 30 days of the deletion. After this time, mailbox items can no longer be recovered. No traditional backup copies on tape are made of e-mails in the Office 365. Instead, we use distributed databases according to current recommendations.

You can also recover messages which are no longer in the Deleted Items folder:

  • Click Deleted Items (1).
  • The messages will be displayed in the middle column.
  • Right-click the message you wish to restore (2).
  • Open the Move submenu.
  • Select the folder you want the message to be moved to.
  • If the message you are looking for is not shown in the Deleted Items folder, right-click the folder.
  • Choose Recover deleted items.
  • This opens a new window.
  • Click the Recover deleted items ... text.
  • Check the boxes for the messages you wish to recover (1)
  • Click Recover (2).
  • OWA will display information on where the messages will be restored.


Junk mail

Reporting junk mail is covered in separate instructions.

Sharing an e-mail folder

Follow the steps below to give other users permissions to access your e-mail folders:

  • Right-click the folder whose permissions you want to edit.
  • Choose Permissions...
  • Click the + symbol (1).
  • Start typing the person’s name in the field (2)
  • Choose the person (3).
  • Click OK.
  • Click Add.
  • Make sure that the added person is selected as active (1).
  • Choose the desired permission level from the Permission level menu. The default level is None.
  • The new permissions are shown at (1)
  • The permissions are shown in more detail in (2) and you can also edit them there.
  • Click OK (3).

Next, you need to grant read permissions to the top-level folder.

  • Right-click the folder with your name on it.
  • Add the user as above.
  • Make sure you are adding permissions for the correct person (1) At a minimum, grant read permissions to the folder (2). Click OK (3).


The folder is not yet shown to the recipient automatically even when permissions have been granted. The recipient has to add the folder according to the next section.

Using a shared folder

  • Right-click the folder with your name on it.
  • Choose Add shared folder ...
  • Find the person that you know has shared their mailbox with you. Start typing the name in the search field (1). Click the name of the correct person (2).
  • Click Add.
  • The shared folder is now shown next to your own folder.