If you spend the day in front of Microsoft Outlook, as I do, you can always appreciate some tips to help you use the program more efficiently. It’s typical for many web workers to spend more than two hours a day on e-mail, so good tips […]

If you spend the day in front of Microsoft Outlook, as I do, you can always appreciate some tips to help you use the program more efficiently. It’s typical for many web workers to spend more than two hours a day on e-mail, so good tips can save time and trouble. In this post, I’ll collect ten efficiency boosts that you can master in minutes.

Set Reminders for Messages You Need to Reply To.
It’s easy to put off sending a reply to a message and then just forget about it altogether. You can set reminders to answer messages by right-clicking the message you want the reminder for, pointing to Follow Up, and clicking Add Reminder. In the Due By list choose the date by which you need to reply. Also select a time, and a Flag color so the message is flagged.

Speed Up Your Outlook Searches. Next to Outlook’s Instant Search box is a little black down arrow. Click on it to display a drop-down list of search options. You can speed up your searches dramatically by searching within a given folder if you know a message is there, or search just sent or received messages, etc.

Really, Really Speed Up Your Outlook Searches.
Especially if you have a very large inbox always filled with messages, use one of the free desktop search tools to get instant results back when you search for messages. My favorite is Copernic Desktop Search. It keeps your e-mails indexed, and even if you have a huge inbox or individual folder to search within, your results will come back in about a second.

Optimize the Default Look of Your Outgoing Mail.
I’m always amazed at how few Outlook users make use of the default formatting options available to them. Go to the Tools menu, choose Options and select Mail Format. In the dialog box that will appear you can optimize your formatting, select stationery options, and add a signature to your outgoing messages.

Print Your Contacts as a Booklet.
You can print your contacts as a good looking booklet. Click on Contacts and then go to File, Print. You’ll see a list of print styles including booklets of varying sizes.

Use the Tasks View. Hardly any Outlook users make efficient use of the Tasks capabilities in the program. Under Folders List, click on Tasks. You can enter to-do items there, sort them, and assign tasks to other people by selecting Assign Task atop any new task you add.

From E-mail to Cell Phone.
As long as the receiving phone supports SMS and you know the carrier, you can send e-mail messages from Outlook directly to a cell phone. Just type the 10-digit phone number in and follow it with the syntax “@cellular_carrier.com.”

Categorize Your Contacts. You can add categories for your contacts, such as “Analyst” or “Reporter.” Just right-click on any contact’s name and select Categories. You can then view contacts by category from the View menu. Within Contacts, select View, Current View, and then By Category.

Clean Up Your Mailbox. You’ll get better performance and faster searching out of Outlook if you regularly eject large files from your Inbox and Sent box. Go to the Tools menu, select Mailbox Cleanup, and then select the size of the files you would like to evaluate for deletion. Click Find to pull up a list of big messages that meet your criteria.

Save Searches. If you find yourself searching, say, for the same person’s name a lot you can save your search. On the Tools menu, chose Find and then Advanced Find. In the dialog box, type in the person’s name and click Save Search on the File menu.

For many more Outlook tips, see my previous post. At the bottom of that post, readers collected a whole lot of their own excellent time-saving tips.

Do you have any good Outlook tips?

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  1. My favorite Outlook tip is that you can drag and drop an email you’ve received onto the Task Pane icon to create a new task with the text of the email becoming the body of the task and the subject line the name of the task. Then just set a due date. I use this tip 10-15 times a day.

  2. Eric S. Mueller Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    For years, I’ve had a Pocket PC, which helped extend the reach of Outlook’s PIM functions. I finally have a Pocket PC Phone which takes me to an entire new level of productivity and organization. Now that gmail has IMAP support, I don’t even have to worry about ActiveSync’s lack of support for html mail below Windows Mobile 6.

    One of my favorite Outlook features is coloring. In Outlook 2003, I set many of my appointments to show up in color so I could see at a glance what I had going on for a particular day. Outlook 2007 automatically adds colors to categories, and the colors are much more pleasing to the eye than the limited colors in 2003.

  3. I think the best two things I do with MS Outlook (or any other email client for that matter)

    1. I keep my Inbox clean. Sort everything into folders (I do it based on clients)
    2. Respond to the email as soon as you read it – otherwise it sits as “read” and it doesn’t command your attention as much as an “unread” one…

  4. The best desktop search utility IMNSHO is Yahoo! Desktop Search (formerly X1). It’s lightning fast and indexes everything: e-mail, attachments, documents. The best feature is the preview pane, which allows you to view an attachment without opening the native application. This saves tons of time when you’re just looking for a quick nugget of information. I’ve only come across a couple of file types that can’t be viewed (MS Visio for one).

  5. Outlook Hacks For Email Nirvana | TheJobBored Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    [...] WebWorkerDaily has a run down of 10 easy tips that will help you get more out of Outlook this very [...]

  6. For those of us with a folder fetish, Outlook allows you to create unlimited folders and subfolders for storing mail. If you set a filter for certain people to be routed directly into those folders, and if your email settings have your Replies in those folders (instead of the Sent box), then that makes searches much easier, and you can better follows conversation threads that take place over several months.

    Another thing that I do is open 2 instances of Outlook – one for mail (my most used) and one for Contacts. Yes, it’s a resource hog, but I’m armed with a boatload of RAM ;-)

  7. Top Posts « WordPress.com Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    [...] 10 Tips for Getting Much More Out of MS Outlook If you spend the day in front of Microsoft Outlook, as I do, you can always appreciate some tips to help you use the […] [...]

  8. Mejora el envío de correo en MS Outlook – elWebmaster.com Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    [...] Fuente: Web Worker Daily [...]

  9. Three Cool Add-Ons For Microsoft Outlook – GigaOM Thursday, November 29, 2007

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  10. Oh my gosh – the SendShield application cracks me up! If you choose to scan received emails, it will catch other peoples’ mistakes… install and then open the emails with attachments…

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