How to Use the Outlook 2013 & 2016 Ribbon

Use the ribbon to quickly open, print, and save emails in Outlook

Screenshot of the Outlook 2016 Ribbon
Outlook 2016 Ribbon.

The Outlook 2013 navigation ribbon replaced the previous drop-down menus in older versions of Outlook. If you're just making the switch to Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, the ribbon is a stark visual difference, but the functionality is much the same. What makes it truly useful is that the ribbon changes and adapts based on what you're doing in Outlook.

For example, if you switch from the Mail view in Outlook, to the Calendar view, the content of the ribbon will change.

It will also change for other activities in Outlook, including:

  • Contacts
  • Tasks
  • Notes

In addition, targeted hidden ribbons only appear when you're executing specific tasks. For example, if you're working with e-mail attachments, the Attachment Ribbon appears. Once you've sent or downloaded an attachment and moved on to another email, the Attachment Ribbon disappears because it's no longer needed.

Working with the Home Ribbon

When you open Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, the program automatically launches to the Home screen. This is where you send and receive e-mails and where most of the activity in Outlook occurs. The navigation panel at the top of the page—the ribbon—is your Home Ribbon. This is where you find all of your basic commands, such as:

  • New: Use the New E-mail button to create a new message. The New Items button is where you create Appointments, Tasks, and more. Just click the down arrow in the lower right corner of the button to expand the menu and make your selection.
  • Delete: The large X button in this section is how you delete and email. Buttons for Ignore, Cleanup, and Junk allow you to control how e-mail is handled when it's received.
  • Respond: The buttons in this section control how your respond to messages.  You can Rely, Reply All, or Forward messages. You can also set Meetings and access Other methods of responding.
  • Quick Steps: If you need to Move a message to a folder or want to Reply and Delete a message, this is the section of the ribbon that you'll access.  There are also other quick commands, such as Move to, Team E-mail, To Manager, Done,  and Create New. Additional commands can be found by clicking the down arrow in the right corner of the section to expand the available menu.
  • Move: The Move section gives you options to Move, create Rules, or to access OneNote.
  • Tag: If you want to mark messages as Unread/ReadCategorize a message, or add a flag for Follow-up, those buttons are in this sections of the ribbon.
  • Find: To Find a Contact, access your Address Book, or Filter E-mail, those commands are in the Find section of the Ribbon.

Ribbon Tabs: Finding Other Commands

In addition to the Home tab of the ribbon, there are several other tabs as well.  Each of these tabs is where you'll find specific commands, associated with the tab name. In both Outlook 2013 an 2016, there are 4 tabs other than the Home tab:

  • File: The File tab is where you will go to change your Options for Outlook, and to Print e-mail messages, calendars, and task lists.
  • Send/Receive: This tab contains commands to help you Send & Receive e-mail. You can also manage Downloads and email Server behavior with the commands found on this ribbon. 
  • Folder: Manage your e-mail Folders and Properties in the ribbon for this tab.
  • View: Change your Outlook Layout for the To-do Pane and the People Pane with the commands on this ribbon.
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