Q: How can Outlook 2010’s status bar help customize my application?

A: Like many Windows applications, Microsoft Outlook has a status bar at the bottom of the main interface that provides certain information about the application. Outlook 2010’s status bar is somewhat configurable.

To see the status bar configuration options in Outlook 2010, right-click the status bar at the bottom of the main Outlook window. The menu items have a check mark to toggle their presentation in the status bar on or off, as Figure 1 shows.

Outlook 2010s status bar configuration options

The menu lists the following options in the order that they would appear in the status bar from left to right:

  • Quota Information
  • Filter
  • Items in View
  • Header Items in View
  • Unread Items in View
  • Reminders
  • View Shortcuts
  • Zoom
  • Zoom Slider

Quota Information shows the amount of space left in the user’s mailbox before the server-side quota is reached. In Figure 1, this is represented by the value 1.98 GB Free, at the bottom left. The quota value displays only for MAPI accounts.

The Filter option indicates whether a filter has been applied to the current view. A text button labeled Filter Applied appears at the very left of the status bar; you can click this button to launch a new filter configuration window to customize the view.

The three Items in View settings go together. Items in View reflects the total number of items in the folder. The Unread Items in View is obviously the number of items that have yet to be opened, items marked as unread, and items not exposed to the reading pane for enough seconds to be considered read. The Unread Items in View value should always be equal to or less than the Items in View value.

If any outstanding Outlook meeting or appointment reminders haven’t been cleared (by clicking Dismiss or Snooze when the reminder pop-up window appears), the number of reminders is also displayed in the status bar when enabled, as Figure 1 shows.

Shortcuts are represented by two buttons that quickly optimize the screen based on user activity. The options are Normal and Reading, which are identified on the status bar with one button for Normal screen layout beside another button that looks like an open book for Reading view. The Normal option switches the Outlook main view to a standard four-column view: navigation pane, Inbox list, reading pane, and to-do list. The Reading option snaps the view to maximize screen real estate for the reading pane and Inbox listing. The user can focus on reading message content with this view.

The Zoom slider magnifies content within the message body in the reading pane. The slider shrinks or magnifies content, text, and images anywhere from 10 percent to 500 percent of their original size. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can use it to activate the zoom function. For messages with an embedded image that’s just too small, you don’t have to save the image and open it from an image editing application in order to magnify it.

Outlook 2010’s status bar presentation options reside in the registry, at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\StatusBar. Figure 2 shows the DWORD value entries for Outlook’s status bar settings. These values are toggled between 1 for enabled and 0 for disabled. Because the registry values are read into memory when Outlook launches, you must restart Outlook for any changes to take effect.

Outlook 2010s status bar registry settings

Other Office applications also offer the status bar feature, but with options specific to the application. Outlook 2010’s status bar displays only in the main Outlook window. If you double-click a message to open it in its own window, no status bar displays at the bottom of the window to provide context regarding the message.

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