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 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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