Turn off Reading Pane in Outlokk 2003 via GPO (or other means)

Posted on 2006-10-23
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Hey Experts,

Running across an issue with a client who has already rolled out Outlook 2003 across their domain, but now wants to make some changes with each Outlook client (over 3,000 client workstations).  Instead of allowing the Reading Pane, the client would like it turned off for every workstation and not allow users to turn it back on again.  I've done some research and realize there isn't an easy way to complete this.. The best solution I found was the following:

1.  Disable the Command ID for the reading pane via Group Policy using Command ID 5514.  Basically this turns off the menu option for the reading pane.
2.  Since the above change does not affect clients who already utilize the reading pane, replace all desktop shortcuts with the /nopreview option.

Great plan, however, the GPO portion is not working.  I'm positive it's added to the correct place, but it's still not working for me.  Looking for more ideas on where to take this one.  Thanks.

Please spare the discussion on how the Reading Pane is much safer in 2003 than ever before... I did this until I was blue in the face today.  I just need a way to do it.
Question by:AnthonyP9618
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LVL 76

Accepted Solution

David Lee earned 250 total points
ID: 17794491
Greetings, AnthonyP9618.

I don't believe it's possible to completely disable the reading pane, and it certainly cannot be accomplished with a policy.  The reading pane setting is stored in each Outlook "view".  Views are stored in a hidden folder in the user's pst file (if using POP3) or mailbox (if using Exchange).  Policy settings are really registry changes, hence they cannot turn the reading pane setting off since it isn't stored in the registry.  Even with Command ID 5514 disabled a saavy user would still be able to turn the reading pane on by editing/creating a view and turning it on there.  The same applies to setting Outlook to launch with the /nopreview option (which also disables the menu selection).  It's just making the process more difficult, not making it impossible.

LVL 29

Assisted Solution

matrixnz earned 250 total points
ID: 17795374
Hi Anthony

As BlueDevilFan pointed out it's not entirely possible to lock it out, other than making it hard for them however you could toss the following line in the logon script which should reset the folders views
outlook /cleanviews

You could also create your shortcuts with outlook /cleanviews /nopreview

You could try resetting up the Office Install using a custom MST to remove all standard Outlook 2003 msi installer shortcuts, adding hardcoded shortcuts instead.

Which may help the process.

Better still, go back to the client and tell them that Microsoft don't have any way of disabling the reading pane via Group Policy, or scripts and that the settings currently available can be bypassed easily. =)

LVL 11

Author Comment

ID: 17799839
matrixnz & BlueDevilFan,

Great insight... After doing some work on this today it does seem near impossible to make this happen for sure on every client PC.  We're now trying to work on it from a command-line point of view to see if we can atleast get the majority of the PCs to go without the reading pane.  Thanks for the extra switches matrixnz, I will have to give those a shot tomorrow and see if that may help.

Oh.. by the way... For the insight of others, the Command Bar ID to remove the Reading Pane from the view menu is 31134. :)

More tomorrow...

Expert Comment

ID: 17912943

Were you able to modify the default Outlook Icon that is placed on the desktop to run with the switches?  I have encountered a similar requirement to yours and have implemented the Command Bar ID fix, but I am still needing to determine the best manner in which to switch all users who currently have it enabled.  Thanks,



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