Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I display my MSN Hotmail or other email in the order it was sent?

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.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

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:

Hotmail Inbox sorted by Date, Ascending

“… click on the column header you want to sort
by.”

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:

Hotmail Inbox sorted by Date, Descending

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:

Hotmail Inbox sorted by From

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:

Hotmail Inbox sorted by Envelope

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 :-).

Update

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.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips with a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my FREE special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

No strings. No email. Here's the direct download. (Just right-click and "Save As...".)

24 comments on “How do I display my MSN Hotmail or other email in the order it was sent?”

  1. HI!Leo , that well and good. Now I need to delete 950 unsolicited e-mails and including msn stuff they send. How do I clear out the mailbox without losing real solicited e-mail.

    Reply
  2. i use to be able to look at my e-mail, and see right there the last 8 or so who e-mailed me last. now it is gone. i still have the colume on my home page but now i have to click on it to see it. thank you for your help. cheri

    Reply
  3. my hotmail inbox shows the message hotmail service unavailable but the messages are in my in box but icant tell from my home page if there are any messages.regards j.magill.

    Reply
  4. When i forward an e-mail that has photo’s or jokes with pictures,the photo’s and pictures will not forward.It sends a white box with red, white, and blue colors in the upper left corner.My husband also has a hotmail account and his doesn’t do this.We have a business account and it doesn’t do this.Our settings are the same except the full headers are set on mine for reporting spammers and i have the paid version which he does not have. I have e-mailed MSN 3 times and they have tried to figure it out,but they don’t know anymore than i do.It’s a real pain when you want to forward a good e-mail and can’t.Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  5. Hi there, I have been trying to send my mum an email but it keeps failing? I have no idea why and its annoying me lol. I tried it with gmail too and i got a msg saying that her email box was unavailable ?? Can you tell me why?

    Reply
  6. Is the “sort” function still available? I used to be able to sort using the method you described above but hotmail will no longer allow me to do this. Did they change something?

    Reply
  7. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Not sure what to tell you other than “it works for me”.

    Things that could affect it: make sure you’re using IE. I use Firefox and it
    worked for me, but perhaps other browsers don’t? Also make sure that Javascript
    is enabled.

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGUcrYCMEe9B/8oqERAiUlAJ4vVUHLHfU3/smfntNKT0fFtVXDZQCdGBDA
    6lLdskGHuWzLAM1nN6kWSEs=
    =LbrH
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  8. Interesting- my wife has run into the same thing..it used to work but it does not now. I have used my computer and accessed and sorted my hotmail account and then I open another window and access her account= not able to sort. I deleted a bunch of messages but still nothing . Help . Who can I contact?

    Thanks,

    Reply
  9. I can do these things you suggested, but the problem is that the new emails appear anywhere in the inbox, sometimes the middle, never the top or bottom…I have to look for the unopened letter icon. I can file some of the other emails in folders, but not all of them, and it is driving me nuts that it is so hard to find emails…

    Reply
  10. The problem I have since Windows Live started is: Generally, the newest mail is on top. This can be sorted by clicking on date, but it keeps switching back to new mail on top, i guess it’s preset.

    Is there a permanent solution? If I’ve received several mails i hate having to switch so the new ones are on the bottom. Arrgh…

    Thanks for any advice because you can’t expect any from msn,
    Michael

    Reply
  11. Hi I am having the same problem, my hotmail account will no longer sort by from. It used to do it no problem and I have not changed anything on my computer. I am finding it frustrating as I cant function without it and find it difficult to move and delete emails if I cant sort so they are piling up in my inbox.

    Help! Thanks

    Reply
  12. R/Sir,

    I am not able to see Column Header “From” in my home PC, while checking messages in “Inbox” but when I open Hotmail account in office able to see “From” column header.
    So, What is the problem?
    And What are the steps to get back “From” column in Hotmail account.
    Is there any option in Hotmail to add/delete “Column Header”?

    Thanks In Advance.

    Regards,
    Anand

    Reply
  13. hi
    there is a problem held in my email account.i dnt know how to remove it.ny mailbox is not opening i tried several times plz plz plz help me out i wana check my mail plzzzzzzzzz

    Reply
  14. Like other users, the option to sort mail in my hotmail inbox has recently disappeared – the column headers are no longer clickable if you know what I mean -any advice welcome – Jenny in London

    Reply
  15. The ability to ‘sort’ disappears after you have so many emails in your inbox. The last time I went through this I had to get that number down to 1200 emails before the sort function came back. The answer from hotmail customer service told me this, but they couldn’t give me a specific # of emails or percentage full the entire account had to be before the sort function came back.

    Reply
  16. OMG, this was driving me absolutely insane… I googled it many times before… and it told me there to go to sort by, but I couldn’t find it. I did what you said in one second. The images helped alot. Thank you so much!!!!!

    Reply
  17. Has the option to display email headers (Incoming IP Addresses) been removed from Hotmail? It once worked but I cannot activate it any longer. The recommended sequence cannot be completed as the option seems to no longer exist.

    Reply
  18. How can you change it permanently? I know about the “arrange” button and use it frequently. I always want my mail displayed in the order received, but everytime I reopen my inbox, even if I have just been away briefly answering a message, when I come back it is back in most recent first order.

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.