How to Set Up an Outlook Unified Inbox: A Quick Guide

Posted by Anastasia Kryzhanovska on August 12, 2020

How to set up an Outlook Unified Inbox
Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on August 12, 2020

Managing several mailboxes in Outlook for various purposes gets harder as you add more and more. Sometimes you spend hours clicking through them all, trying to find that one message you need. You just wish you’d remember which inbox it was in. Or all of a sudden you realize there was an uber-important message in there and a client has been waiting for your urgent reply for a good five hours already. Oops. 

At a certain point, you realize it would be nice to have an Outlook unified inbox for all those emails. Instead of spending hours every time you need to get this chaos organized, just be the master of incoming messages. In this guide, we will show you the options in Outlook and some other handy alternatives.

Microsoft Outlook Unified Inbox Solution

Microsoft Outlook is among the most popular email clients, yet it doesn’t have a full-fledged “Outlook combined inbox” feature, even though users have been requesting one for years. However, there are a few ways to get around this issue.

1. You can create a search.

The first option to set up an Outlook 365 unified inbox is creating a search query.

For that, you need to activate the search field and type a query that will denote the type of messages you want to see. Don’t forget to choose “All Mailboxes” from a drop-down list beside the search box before you hit Enter.

As a result, you’ll see all emails that match the query, but you’re going to have to do this search every time you need a unified inbox experience. Here’s a search example:

Create search for Outlook combined inbox

2. You can create a rule.

Another method for creating a unified inbox in Outlook is creating a rule.

If you’re a bit more technical with your apps, you can create a filter with the New Rule feature. But first, create a folder under the name “Unified Inbox” or whatever you wish to call it. Then, open the Rules Wizard. That’s where things start becoming more complicated.

You need to apply a rule on the messages you receive, so select that option. Now you need to:

  • Specify the criteria, which will be “through the specified account.”
  • Select the account in which you created the new folder and choose that folder.
  • Add a rule to each account you want to send to the “unified” folder.

3. You can use Visual Basic code to create a macro.

For those who are up to a little bit of an adventure, try simple coding through Microsoft Visual Basic. First, you’ll need to enable macros or turn on notifications for digitally signed ones:

Create unified inbox in Outlook with macros

Then you need to restart Outlook and open a new project in the VBA editor and the code that will pull mail into a unified inbox. The code for the incoming messages will look like this:

code for the incoming messages

And the code for sent messages will look like this:

code for sent messages

As you can see, none of these options are easy or straightforward, nor do they actually create a convenient Outlook All Mail folder. It’s like trying to make parallel lines cross. But there is an alternative.

An Easier and More Convenient Option to Get a Unified Mailbox

Even if you have the skills to code easily, you probably don’t want to go through the effort; there’s enough work at hand to rack your brain about creating a unified box too. Well, that’s already been done for you by Mailbird — an email client specially developed for you to avoid situations like the above that doesn’t require any coding skills.

A unified inbox is already there, in your Mailbird app. You just need to connect the email accounts you want to see in your inbox. And it saves you tons of time and effort:

  • Easily search what you need through all your accounts.
  • Manage accounts together or separately.
  • Switch between the accounts in just a click.

And much more! A neatly designed interface makes the whole experience even more pleasant. Mailbird has all the features you love about convenient emails: organized folders, handy filters, attachment reminders, or undo send. By the way, the undo option gives you up to 30 seconds to change your mind and get your wrongly sent email back.

Try Mailbird, the Best Windows app to Manage Multiple Email Accounts

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How to Use Multiple Email Accounts in Mailbird

There’s a multitude of benefits to using several email accounts, and Mailbird is a golden tool that makes managing them more convenient thanks to the unified inbox and easy switching between accounts.

Unified Inbox

This feature gets all your emails from various accounts into one simple well-managed inbox. You see the messages by the time they were delivered. You can also see all the accounts on the sidebar to the left. Unified Inbox has the same folders you are used to, such as incoming, sent, trash, etc.

You can also opt to unify only some of your email accounts, say four out of seven. You can remove single accounts from the Unified Inbox easily. Go to your Mailbird menu in the top left corner. Then choose Options -> Accounts and click the account you would like to add or exclude in Unified Inbox Plus. Or you can add them later if you change your mind.

Mailbird unified inbox

Switching between accounts

When you add several accounts to Mailbird, it’s easy to switch between them if you want to manage them all separately. To add a new account just open Settings and click Options -> Accounts. You will see the Add Account button to the right. Type your login and password, and the system will automatically add all the emails to your Mailbird.

You can also edit your IMAP or POP3 settings. And you can choose an icon for each account. Clicking the icons is the way you switch between the accounts.

As you can see, managing multiple accounts in Mailbird is simple. You don’t have to dig deep into the code or go through a complicated settings procedure. Focus on what is important about your emails, and Mailbird will take care of the routine.

7 More Stunning Mailbird Features That Rock Your Productivity

1. Time-savers

We don’t usually notice the short-term routines in the email checking process. But they devour so many precious minutes that, in the end, you feel like you were digging holes all day long. That’s partially because of the constant need to refocus your attention. These issues can be helped though.

  • The speed reader gets you through the message bit by bit so your attention doesn’t wander. 
  • The quick reply feature continues that by allowing you to draft a response right there in the same window. You can preview an attachment there as well. 
  • In-line reply helps you not miss anything important if an email requires your special attention.

To save you a bit more time and effort, set yourself keyboard shortcuts. And unsubscribe from unwanted emails in just a click using the Unfollow.me integration.

2. Search Capabilities

It’s sometimes hard to remember where exactly the mail or file you need is. If you’re using the Unified Inbox, Mailbird can resolve that for you by performing the search through all your accounts. You can look for a message, a separate attachment, or an avatar.

Mailbird has advanced search capabilities so you can control the search with different filter options. Specify a sender address or email size, and you’ll get the needed info in no time.

3. Messenger Integrations

Switching between various accounts doesn’t mean email only. You probably have all of them installed because your friends and colleagues use different ones. Mailbird integrates with Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Twitter.

With the built-in messenger apps, you can check them right inside the email client while limiting possible distractions. You can check all the channels of communication via one simple beautifully designed interface. Stay focused and productive for as long as you can.

Alternative to Outlook unified inbox

4. Personalization Options

Since you can spend several hours running through your mailbox, it would be nice to have it organized to your personal preferences. That’s easily done in Mailbird. You can choose the language, layout, color, and much more. Our Dark Theme is especially loved by our customers. The Scaling feature adjusts the size of the UI for you.

But personalization isn’t only about the design. You can also set the app to be most convenient for you by, for example, hiding the taskbar or turning off the notifications — everything to make your email inbox your own.

5. Powerful Productivity Integrations

That’s where Mailbird turns into a truly indispensable productivity center. Leveling up is when an email client unites with other apps you require daily: project management systems (we support Trello and Asana), file sharing services (Dropbox), task lists (Todoist), video call options (Veeting / Whereby), and others.

You can work in teams in Google Docs, share information via Evernote, and keep track of everything in FollowUp.cc. And all this is possible within one email client without distractions for switching between multiple apps.

6. Easy Onboarding

Whether you are using another email client or webmail is the only option you know, switching to Mailbird won’t cause you any trouble. Simply download the client, add your accounts, and start your trial. It’s as simple as that!

7. Live 24/7 Support

It is very important for everyone doing business that email clients work seamlessly. And we put in all our effort to provide exactly this kind of emailing experience. But in case something unexpected happens or you just need some advice, our support team is available 24/7. We receive all the inquiries and reply as promptly as possible.

To Wrap It Up

Setting up a unified Outlook inbox is possible in three ways: through Search Folders options, via the Rules feature, and by adding pieces of code for advanced users. All of them might be quite complicated and still won’t bring you the result you expect. For example, you cannot save the search. Or if you don’t feel like coding, the system doesn’t feel like helping you out.

A neatly organized Unified Inbox in the Mailbird email client resolves the matter way easier than creating an Outlook unified inbox. You can add all your accounts or just some of them and switch between the accounts in one click. Adding messengers and productivity apps turns Mailbird into your own fully customized powerful workstation. See for yourself!  

Mailbird Is a Lightweight Alternative to Outlook. Give It a Free Try Now!

Try Mailbird for Free

Does Outlook have a unified inbox?

A unified inbox or a combined inbox for all email accounts is not available on Outlook as a separate feature. You’ll need to click from inbox to inbox to see all your mail or set up a complicated search query. Luckily, with Mailbird, adding a unified inbox is a simple fix.

How do I see all of my inboxes in Outlook?

3 ways to see all your inboxes in one folder in Outlook
1. You can create a search.
2. You can create a rule.
3. You can use Visual Basic code to create a macro.

Why are my emails disappearing from my Outlook inbox?

4 reasons your Outlook emails keeps disappearing from your inbox
1. A configuration issue in your settings where account inactivity causes your Outlook emails to be moved to a deleted folder
2. Your account may be hacked and the email deleted from your inbox
3. Conversation Threading feature is turned on

How do you merge inboxes in Outlook?

Merge Outlook Inboxes
1. Open Microsoft Outlook and select the File menu.
2. Select Account Settings in the File menu, and in the drop-down menu, click on Settings again.
3. The Account Settings window showing all of your existing email accounts pops up.
4. Select the email account whose inbox you wish to combine.


Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on August 12, 2020

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25 thoughts on "How to Set Up an Outlook Unified Inbox: A Quick Guide"

  • I followed your steps exactly for Method 2 and it is not working. It did not alert me that Outlook is running when I clicked Finish. I’m assuming this works for Outlook 2016 since everything was exactly the same as you presented it here.

  • But this will move all incoming mail to one account not just display it in a common folder. Strange thing is that the Outlook version for Android does a perfect common inbox folder without even being asked.

  • I setup method #2 and everything works great! Is there a way to update the status (read/unread) of an email in the original inbox folders? If I read the email in Unified Folder it would help for it to be marked as read in the original Inbox too. This would help greatly with IMAP accounts that are being accessed on other devices (iPhone) to keep everything synced. If not, is there a way to sync my email on my iPhone to the Unified folder?

  • Further to my comment below I have now changed all my Android and iPad devices to use the Microsoft Outlook App and I am finding that I cannot fault it at all. Especially the common inbox which works with my collection of accounts. (Outlook.com, gmail x 3 and one yahoo.co.uk).
    My only complaint is that the Windows version of Outlook does not give the same facility.
    Is there a better windows mail client?

  • Love the ideas on this page. I figured out a one click solution using search based on the tips in this article.
    execute your search for folder:Inbox received: (this week)
    then open the Search Tools Tab in the ribbon
    click onto recent searches
    right click onto one of the drop down items and chose “Add Gallery to Quick Access Toolbar”
    That will pop up an instant icon right up top in the blue bar next to the sync button.
    next time, just execute your favourite search from that icon after you start up. quick and no need to move emails around

    • Your approach sounds very efficient so I tried it. I go through the steps in method one and then try to re-execute the search using the Recent Search option. It preserves the Inbox and recevied this week designations but I have not found a way to have it preserve the All mailboxes and Unread aspects of the search. Is there a step I am missing?

  • Avatar
    Tobias Carlén says:

    In Outlook 2011 for Mac the unified Inbox works as expected – I have not been able to create a unified view in Oútlook 2016, just found many ways to copy mail to a new folder – this is not the same thing: Sometimes you need to work in the separate mailboxes, sometimes you want the unified view. If you read an email, it should be marked as read everywhere etc. I don’t want a copy, I want a real view.

    I have found only one solution: downgrading outlook, so I did. I sometimes use Outlook 2016, bu this is such a serious flaw that it’s never going to be my main email client.

  • Avatar
    Aaron Wallentine says:

    Offered in the spirit of feedback trying to helpful: seems like your content editor is confusing “it’s” (“it is”) with “its” (possessive of ‘it’).

    Example (of correct use): “The reason being is you need to create a new rule for each account to
    send _its_ messages (with _its_ account category applied) to your new
    Unified Inbox folder.”

    I’ve found this on many pages on your site.

    I know, it’s counterintuitive, because otherwise, possessives are a correct use of apostrophes … but in the case of “it’s”, it always means “it is”, so the possessive doesn’t have an apostrophe … an exception to that rule.

    • Avatar
      Tom Apiaceae says:

      Perhaps a better way to remember this rule: As a possessive, “its” follows the pattern of “his” “hers,” and “theirs.” None of these pronouns use an apostrophe. Just remember: NO possessive pronouns require an apostrophe.

    • “Trying to helpful?”

  • An another option to avoid this trick is:
    While adding new email accounts (through Mail from control panel), to select ‘Deliver new message to: Existing Outlook Data File’.
    Then, all of the email accounts will use the same inbox, send, deleted items etc… , under the same .pst file

  • Ok I got method three working and expanded it to cover trash and junk so I can do manually what Outlook fails to do automatically!

    THEN ONE STEP FURTHER – go to the quick access toolbar and right click the customize (down arrow) button and add the macros to the quick access.

    Now you can always have access with one click – problem FINALLY fixed.

    Now I just have to figure out how to make it ask before closing down accidentally!!!

  • Perfect! I chose the VB method, added run Macro to my quick access tool bar and it’s good to go. Thanks! So much easier than all of those rules…

  • Hey, your blog is great. I will bookmark it and I plan to visit regularly.

  • Hi, this macro combines inbox(s), but it gets all the emails. What line of code can I add to just look at the UNREAD emails?

    • Andrew @ Mailbird
      Andrew @ Mailbird says:

      Hello Rosa,

      Please try below macro 🙂

      Sub UnifiedInbox()
      Dim myOlApp As New Outlook.Application
      txtSearch = “folder:Inbox received: (this week) isread:no”
      myOlApp.ActiveExplorer.Search txtSearch, olSearchScopeAllFolders
      Set myOlApp = Nothing
      End Sub

      • How about unread and flagged email?

        • Andrew @ Mailbird
          Andrew @ Mailbird says:

          Hi Lester, I am afraid I do not know what command is for flagged emails but if you would find it you can try just adding it after inread no: and hopefully this should work.

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