I was trying to post this to an old thread from 2012, but the thread is too old and it will not allow replies. So I thought I would post my solution here in case it helps others. I believe I have exhausted every possible solution posted on this subject on the Inet ... with many many hours of aggravation on this seemingly simple, silly, un-fixable issue of the IMMOVABLE Outlook Default Tab Stop set at 1/2". Here is a simple answer that works for me.
1) Open a new email
2) Click in the body of the email. Leave cursor there.
3) Click on "Format Text" tab
4) Right click on the "Normal" style
5) Click on "Modify"
6) Under "Formatting" select whatever Font & Font Size you want to use as your default email font. I use Arial 12pt but it can be anything you want (btw ... the Font has nothing to do with this TAB issue)
7) Click on the lower left "Format" button
8) Select "Paragraph" and change settings here if you want to get rid of all those MS defaults for line spacing, indents, etc.
9) Click on "Line & Page Breaks" Tab at top
10) Select whatever settings you want here. I clear them all to give me total freedom for formatting my text.
11) Click on the "Tabs" button lower left (or you can select "Tabs" under the previously selected "Format" button
12) In the small "Tab Stop Position" window, type in whatever TAB STOPS you want. I use 1/4" increments. So I type in 0.25 and then click the "Set" button. Repeat this for each additional tab stop. I use 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.00, 1.25, 1.50, ... and so on ... out to 6.00". But you could go to larger or smaller increments (say 1/8" or 1/10"). These are really helpful to quickly align small list columns in emails vs using a table.
13) After you have set all your tab stops, then Click "OK"
14) MOST IMPORTANT - Make sure you select the radio button "New docs based on this template". This will write back these changes to the Normal Style in the NormalEmail.dotm template ... which outlook apparently uses as its default template each time you one a new email.
15) After I did all this, I went to the Template directly folder
(Typically here: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templa tes)
and made a bak-up copy of that template in case it ever gets corrupted. I named it "NormalEmail DOTM (B-up Copy 2015-0303-R6).. Notice I am on Rev 6 of my testing with this.
16) Another IMPORTANT NOTE - If you ever change your normal style in an email and click OK to save to the NormalEmail template, you will overwrite the template ... so that's why the bak-up.
17) Another takeaway on this solution ... it would be EZ to copy this modified normal style and make any number of variations of this. e.g. You could make a copy (i.e. create a new style) and call it Tabs-Half-Inch, Tabs-One-Inch, and so on, if you wanted to have various tab alignment styles for quick access.
18) Lastly, this was my final piece to my extreme aggravation in finally getting my Normal.DOT, DOTX and DOCM templates set-up so that I do not see ANY more of those stupid, annoying, aggravating and completely unnecessary STYLES that MS has forced everyone to look at for so many years. My "Normal" templates now only show my 10 to 15 personal styles plus my set of outline styles that I want to see, plus my outline style sets I use to write technical procedures. Setting up a stable, Outline numbered style set, with Headings was "Computer HELL".
LEARNING and MANAGING MS STYLES are just about THE SINGLE MOST F'D UP FEATURE I have ever run across in my 30 years of computing, and that's saying a lot. I feel bad for the regular average users who cannot figure these out. Spend about 30 to 40 hours reading and training and maybe it will come to you.
This is my first time on this forum. I didn't look to see how to post a file. If I have time, I will look into this and post a copy of my Normal templates in case anyone is interested in them.
Thought I'd take the time to post this since it seems there is no other solution on the entire internet for this silly issue that should be resettable within the prgram. Try going to MS Support ant typing in something simple like "Outlook Tab Stop"... you get 50,000 "solutions" of NOTHING! Good luck to everyone.