While it’s probably not surprising that Outlook.com offers some decent customization capabilities, anyone using it should take at least a few minutes to check out the ways in which you can make Microsoft’s new webmail service your own.

Note: these customization capabilities apply only to Outlook.com Mail.

Colors

While Outlook.com provides a pleasant blue theme for its Mail component by default, this one part of the service can be customized with your choice of choice of 12 colors: Pink, dark red, dark orange, orange, light green, green, light teal, teal, light blue, blue (the default), dark purple, and purple. These choices are accessed from the top of the Settings (gear) menu. (And you can preview the change by mousing over individual colors.)

colors

Reading pane

Like its application (and now Metro app-) based email solutions, Microsoft displays a reading pane in Outlook.com Mail by default. But if you’re coming from Gmail or perhaps just like a little surprise every time you open an email, you can turn off the reading pane. Likewise, if you’re old school and miss the days of Outlook Express, you can display the reading pane on the bottom instead of the right.

As with the color themes, you access reading pane options via the Settings (gear) menu. There are three choices here: Off, right (the default), or bottom.

reading

You can access an additional option related to the reading pane in Options. When you navigate to Settings, More mail settings and the select Reading pane under the Reading email section, you’ll see the following interface:

reading2

Here, you can choose what displays in the reading pane whenever you select a folder such as the inbox.

Conversation view

Like Microsoft’s other email solutions, Outlook.com supports a nice conversation view that groups messages by conversation by default. I happen to prefer this view, but if you want each email to appear as a separate message in the Messages pane, you can use the Conversation settings (in Settings, More mail settings, Group by conversation and pre-load messages) to change how it works.