Outlook Focused vs Other: Which Is More Productive?

Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by Amit Bansal

If you’re an Outlook user, you may have noticed a new feature called Focused Inbox. This feature separates your inbox into two tabs – Focused and Other.

The Focused tab contains your most important emails, while the other tab contains the rest of your emails.

This feature is powered by AI, which learns from your behavior and decides which emails are important to you.

We’ve found that Focused Inbox can be a helpful tool for managing your inbox.

By separating your emails into two categories, you can quickly see which emails are important and which ones can wait.

If you’re someone who receives a lot of emails, this feature can help you stay organized and save time.

However, it’s important to note that Focused Inbox is only available for Microsoft 365, Exchange, and Outlook.com accounts.

Focused Inbox Requires the Office 365 subscription versions of the clients. Focused Inbox will not be delivered to Outlook for Mac 2011, or the perpetual versions of Outlook 2013 for Windows and Outlook 2016 for Windows.

What is a Focused Inbox in Outlook?

Focused Inbox is only available for Outlook 365 Subscribers, which separates inboxes into two categories, Focused & Others.

Your most important emails are on the Focused tab while the rest remain easily accessible. Earlier Focused Inbox known as Clutter.

Focused Inbox from Microsoft Outlook allows you to organize your emails more effectively, prioritizing messages to ensure that you see the most important, message first.

You can access Focused Inbox from your desktop and Outlook Web application (OWA) only.

What Does Focused Inbox Do?

The focused Inbox mechanism works smartly and studies the history of your email use, analyses the types of messages you receive, and the content of those messages.

It also determines the emails you most read and communicate with other emails received and considers those emails as raw data, it will learn over time what messages you read and respond to.

The second category which is unable to meet the standards will be labeled “Other“.

How Does Outlook-Focused Inbox Work?

Focus inbox is a smart sorting algorithm, which arranges messages between the Focused Inbox and Other lists according to your working inputs, (Just like all social media platforms they show what users are normally interested in and hold the user as long).

But therein Microsoft Outlook 365, this technology uses the same feature to list out the regular email in the focused list for quick access, which results in focusing on all important emails.

How to Enable or Disable Focused Inbox in Outlook?

It’s just like turning a light on and off, Let’s fall in:

  • Open Outlook 365,
  • Select Exchange Account >> Click View Tab.
  • Select Show Focused Inbox to turn the feature ON or OFF
focused inbox outlook
  • The Focused and Other tabs will appear at the top of your mailbox. The group contains email depending upon the methodology of Outlook, you can switch between tabs at any time.

How can I move emails to my Outlook-Focused Inbox?

Focused Inbox is designed to study your pattern and determine which messages display in the Outlook Focused Inbox, most of the time some email messages required a Focused inbox instead of Others, and some need to be landed on others instead of the Focused Inbox.

You can make this manually which is, later, familiar with the methodology.

  • Select the Focused or Other tab, and then right-click the message you want to shift.
  • Select Move to Other if you want only the specific message to move or select Always Move to Other if you want all future messages from the sender to be delivered to the Other tab.
move to other
  • Select Move to Focused if you want only the selected message moved. Select Always Move to Focused if you want all future messages from the sender to be delivered to the Focused tab.
move to focused

That way you can force email in the focused inbox to move to other folders.

Note: Focused Inbox only appears for Microsoft Exchange accounts (outlook.com or hotmail.com) other accounts like IMAP or POP accounts do not fall under this feature.

How Outlook-Focused Inbox Methodology Works?

If you are a Microsoft Outlook Exchange user, your email is bifurcated into “Focused” and “other” folders, the emails determine messages depending upon several factors:

  • Newly Added contact: If you add an email address to your contact list, Outlook in the initial days consisted of emails received from those email addresses and it appears in the Focused Inbox.
  • Change Class Manually: If you move an email received from the newsletter to the Focused Inbox, future messages from the same newsletter appear in the Focused Inbox automatically.
  • Regular emails to the sender: If you send numerous messages to a specific person, Outlook considers that email address as important, and in the future, the emails received automatically appear in the Focused Inbox.

How To Turn On/Off the Focused Inbox in Outlook.com?

  • Log in to Outlook.com
  • At the top right corner of the page, select Settings (gear icon).
  • In Quick Settings, Turn on the toggle of Focused Inbox.

You will observe the inbox is bifurcated into two parts (Focused Inbox and Others).

focused inbox outlook web

In an analogous way, you can train Outlook to shift focused emails to others and vice versa in the future manually.

Outlook Focused Inbox Missing

Most of the users claimed, “Outlook Focused Inbox Button Missing“, there is no technical glitch,

  • Go to File Tab >> Options >> Customize Ribbon >> Customize the Ribbon: Main Tabs >> View >Focused Inbox to see if the Show Focused Inbox option is listed there.
Show focused Inbox

Secondly, the main cause of the missing Focused Button is the “Nonexchange account“, Focused Inbox option is only available for the exchange account users, for instance, if you are using a Gmail account and try to find the focused inbox icon, you will be disappointed because it’s not there.

Outlook Focused Inbox not showing all Emails

Focused Inbox is designed to show only active emails, Outlook analyzes the importance of email depending upon the uses and movement of emails.

For instance, in any newsletter you actively open and use to spend time on that email, that email message is treated as important for Outlook 365 or any other lower version, that’s Focused Inbox Rules.

Other than that, the emails which are part of your inflow (inbox) but not active or not even open by you are treated as other emails, which are available in the other folder.

This is the main cause of users unable to find all emails in the Focused Inbox.

Outlook-Focused Inbox vs Clutter

Differences between Clutter and Focused Inbox:

In both Clutter and Focused Inbox, it sorts emails into important messages. Focused Inbox consists of the important message and leaves the rest in other folder, while Clutter removes messages from your Inbox and sorts them into separate folders.

You can switch messages from other to focus and vice versa, one of the drawbacks of clutter is it separates other emails into a separate folder, which was later replaced by a Focused inbox.

Focused Inbox uses a tab system, with “Focused” and “Other” tabs.

Low-priority e-mails get placed in the other location. In contrast, Clutter sends low-priority e-mails to a separate “Clutter” folder

Outlook clutter

It works when you need to focus on your important business or job-related email instead of some spammy emails, you can stay Focused with the Focused Inbox.

Microsoft has published two support articles with detailed instructions about how to turn Focused Inbox on, and how to turn Focused Inbox off, on all the different programs and apps.

Comparison of Outlook-Focused vs Other Methods

Efficiency and Time Management

When it comes to managing our email inbox, efficiency and time management are crucial. Outlook’s Focused Inbox method helps us to prioritize our emails and focus on the ones that matter the most.

By separating our inbox into two tabs – Focused and Other, we can quickly identify and respond to important emails without getting distracted by less critical ones.

This method helps us save time and be more productive.

On the other hand, the traditional inbox method, where all emails are displayed in one list, can be overwhelming and time-consuming.

It requires us to go through each email one by one, which can be a tedious and inefficient process.

Ease of Use

Outlook’s Focused Inbox method is easy to use and requires little to no setup. The system automatically categorizes emails into Focused and Other tabs based on our interaction history and other factors.

We can also move emails between tabs or mark them as important or not important to improve the system’s accuracy.

The traditional inbox method, on the other hand, requires us to manually sort and categorize our emails, which can be time-consuming and confusing.

It also lacks the intelligence and automation that Focused Inbox provides.

Effectiveness in Reducing Email Overwhelm

Outlook’s Focused Inbox method is highly effective in reducing email overwhelm.

By prioritizing our emails and separating them into two tabs, we can focus on the most important ones and avoid getting distracted by less critical ones.

This method helps us to stay organized and on top of our inboxes, reducing stress and anxiety.

The traditional inbox method, on the other hand, can be overwhelming and stressful, especially if we receive a high volume of emails.

It can be difficult to keep track of important emails and ensure that we don’t miss anything critical.

Final Words

Throughout this article, we have explored the differences between Focused and Other inboxes in Outlook.

We have learned that the Focused Inbox is designed to prioritize your most important emails, while the Other Inbox is intended to store less critical messages.

We have also seen how to use Focused Inbox effectively by training it to recognize which emails are important to you.

We can do this by moving messages between the Focused and Other tabs, and by marking messages as important or not important.

By using Focused Inbox, we can save time and increase our productivity by focusing on the messages that matter most.

However, it’s important to remember that Focused Inbox is not perfect and may occasionally misclassify emails.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to regularly check the other tab to make sure that no important messages have been missed.

Overall, Focused Inbox is a useful feature for managing your email in Outlook.

By using it in conjunction with other email management techniques such as creating rules and folders, we can keep our inboxes organized and under control.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

After learning about Focused Inbox and Other inboxes, you may have some questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Can I turn off Focused Inbox?

Yes, you can turn off Focused Inbox for your entire organization or for specified users. To turn off Focused Inbox, see the instructions provided by Microsoft Support.

How does Focused Inbox decide which emails are important?

Focused Inbox uses machine learning to observe the way you handle emails and decides which ones are important.

It takes into account your reading habits, the people you communicate with, and the content of the emails.

You can also manually move emails between Focused and Other inboxes to help train Focused Inbox.

Can I customize Focused Inbox?

Yes, you can customize Focused Inbox to a certain extent. You can move emails between Focused and Other inboxes, and you can also turn off Focused Inbox for specific senders or domains.

However, you cannot customize the algorithm that determines which emails are important.

Does Focused Inbox work on all devices?

No, Focused Inbox is not available on all devices. It is available on Outlook for Windows, Outlook for Mac, Outlook on the Web, and the Outlook mobile app for iOS and Android.

However, it is not available on all email accounts. Focused Inbox is available only for Microsoft 365, Exchange, and Outlook.com accounts.

Can I turn off notifications for Focused Inbox?

Yes, you can turn off notifications for Focused Inbox. However, this will also turn off notifications for all other emails.

To turn off notifications for Focused Inbox, see the instructions provided by Microsoft Support.

How does Outlook determine Focused vs Other?

Outlook uses an algorithm that looks at the sender and recipients of email messages.

It then generates a score that tells Outlook which messages are more important than others. It does this by considering personal relationships, business relationships, and email habits.

Question: While using focused inbox, you notice that Outlook sometimes puts important messages from a specific customer on the other tab. how do you fix this for future messages?

The main cause is Outlook methodology, in the above section you will get a detailed explanation of why?

You can move that email from other tab to the focused tab manually, once you move that email,

Outlook considers that email address important, and in the future, all the emails received from that specific customer will be landed in the Focused inbox.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of MailSmartly.com. Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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