When my vice president marks an item as read in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003's Unread Mail search folder, the item stays in that view until she presses F5 to manually refresh the view. She says that items she had read used to disappear from the folder. What caused that change in behavior?

What the VP is seeing is normal behavior for the Unread Mail search folder, which is one of three search folders that Outlook 2003 adds to every set of default folders. If it didn't work that way, people could become confused because items that have been marked as read, but are not actually gone, would "disappear."

To make items disappear after they're read, you can apply the Unread Messages in This Folder view to the search folder by clicking View, Arrange By, Current View, Unread Messages in This Folder. The Unread Messages view shows only items that are marked as unread. Outlook hides from that view messages that are marked as read.