I opened Outlook the other day, as I do everyday, and noticed the People Pane was missing. Trying to figure out what was going on, I thought maybe I hadn’t installed the Outlook Social Connector (which includes support for Facebook and Live Messenger) to enable it. After-all, it was a fairly clean install of Windows 7 + Office 2010. However, I clearly remembered accessing this exact feature the day before, but I definitely did not remember turning it off or even remotely disabling it in any way, yet it wasn’t there.

After perusing the Outlook 2010 ribbon for a little bit, I came across the option to turn it back on. I’m still thoroughly perplexed as to how it was turned off in the first place. And for the record, this isn’t the first time it’s happened to me either.

If you’re in the same predicament I was in I can show you how to get the people pane back up and running, even if I can’t tell you exactly why it disappears from time to time.

Simply click on the View tab in the Ribbon, click on the People Pane option and either select Normal or Minimized to re-enable it. Mine, for some random reason, was set to off. For what it’s worth, I usually set my People Pane to Normal, being able to minimize and restore it on the fly.

outlook_people_pane-01

That’s all there is to it. If you’re wondering what the People Pane is, it’s simply a useful feature in Outlook that keeps track of e-mails, social networking interactions from your colleagues with integration of the Outlook Social Connector (a separate add-on from Microsoft). Thus, when you select a colleague from your contacts page, or receive an e-mail from the person you can use the People Pane to see their latest status updates, received mail, etc. all in one location. I hope to do a more in-depth coverage as to how the People Pane works and how it can be beneficial for the average user.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter (@jctierney) for more tech news and updates along with answers to some of your shorter, less than 140 character questions.