Q: How can I have Microsoft Outlook automatically close the original message window after a reply is sent?

A: When you open an Outlook message in its own window, by default that window remains open until you close it. However, Outlook has a setting that will automatically close messages when you reply to or forward them. In Outlook 2007, you can enable this setting by going to Tools, Options to open the Options dialog box. On the Preferences tab, click E-mail Options. In Outlook 2010, the setting is found by going to File to enter the Backstage area, then Options. Select the Mail option in the left pane, and scroll down to the Replies and Forwards section, as Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1: Selecting the option to close the original message on replies and forwards in Outlook 2010 (Click image for larger view.) 

Select the check box beside Close original message window when replying or forwarding to activate this feature. You don't need to restart Outlook for it to take effect. However, this feature requires that the message is open in its own window, not replied to or forwarded from the Reading Pane. It's also an all-or-nothing setting in that it applies to all accounts in your Outlook profile.

You might have some instances where you want to forward the same message to multiple recipients but not at the same time. You'll either have to forward the message when viewed from the Reading Pane or just re-open the message after each forward you send if you need to send it again. Ideally, this situation won't happen often, and this little automation can save some users a few moments in their email day.

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