Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Every so often the sort order of email in your inbox may change unexpectedly. A stray click can do that, and a not-so-stray click can fix it.
I don't know what I did but for some reason my emails are out of order; they're not in chronological order. It is getting harder to check my e-mail. Please tell me how I can reset my the order of my emails.
This is one of those things that's very obvious and easy if you know about it.
But if you don't know, it can be extremely frustrating until someone shows you. And based on how frequently I get the question, a lot of people don't know.
So... let me show you.
I'll use MSN Hotmail as my example, but the technique applies to just about any web mail program, and almost all GUI mail programs like Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora and the like.
Short version: click on the column header you want to sort by. Click on it again to sort "the other way".
Here's a snapshot of my Hotmail inbox:
You can see that my messages are sorted by date, in ascending order. The date column header shows this because it's a slightly different color, and it has an up arrow in it. If I click on the word "Date" in the header, the sort order changes:
You can see that both the arrow next to "Date" has changed, as has the sort order of my messages.
Actually, you can click on any of the column headers to sort by that header. Here's my inbox sorted by "From" after I clicked on the From column header:
Here the "From" column header has changed color, and now has the arrow indicating the direction of the sort. I can also click on the envelope on top of the read/unread/junk? icon column, and have my messages sorted by that:
There's no room in the header for the accompanying up or down arrow, but you can see that the column header has changed color.
That's all there is to it! And as I said, almost any mail program or web mail interface that shows your messages in a list with columns will allow you to change the sort order by clicking on the appropriate column header.
In fact, it was probably a stray click that got your inbox in an unexpected order to begin with :-).
Reader David reports: "The word from Hotmail customer support is that the 'sort' function now disappears after your mailbox exceeds 5000 emails. They recommend either configuring Outlook Express to use a Hotmail account or downloading Windows Live Mail."
In my opinion if you're keeping 5000 emails in Hotmail you're asking for trouble anyway, simply based on the number of reports of lost and hacked email accounts. Using Windows Live Mail, or one of the other approaches to downloading your Hotmail to your own PC so it can be managed and backed up there is by far the best approach.