Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Changing Microsoft Outlook 2003's default viewing behaviour is difficult. There are a couple of possibilities, but so far nothing that really works.
How can I get Outlook 2003 to default the reading pane off, and to stop grouping?
I've actually been fairly pleased with Outlook 2003 unlike some. That's not to say it doesn't bring some annoyances. One of them is that it insists on defaulting to listing messages in groups and on showing the "reading pane".
Unfortunately the annoyance grows.
Naturally, in any folder it's quite possible to turn off grouping (View, Arrange By, and then uncheck Show In Groups). And it's possible to turn off the reading pane (View, Reading Pane, Off).
The problem is that to date I've found no way to make those settings either globally or the default. The result? I must to take those steps in each and every folder I want to change. I have more folders than patience so as you might expect I now have a fairly random mixture where the most used folders have those options turned off and the rest don't.
And for what it's worth, here's a quote from the Microsoft web site:
... changes to the Reading Pane cannot be made globally and must be made to each folder individually.
It is possible to start Outlook with the reading pane turned off. Add "/safe:1" to the outlook command line will start it in a "Safe Mode" and the reading pane will be disabled. I'll admit that this makes me nervous as I'm not sure what the other side effects of this "Safe Mode" might be.
If YOU find a way to default either of these settings to off I'd love to hear it. Add your suggestion to the comments and I'll check it out. If it works I'll update this article accordingly.