Do you know how to use Microsoft Outlook to its fullest potential?

Not understanding how to use Outlook is like not understanding how to do your job. It’s a valuable tool that’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Microsoft Outlook is designed to make your workday easier. It incorporates everything you need to keep up with emails, appointments, tasks and much more. Plus, with more businesses encouraging telecommuting, Outlook is the virtual workplace solution that connects people wherever they are.

Basically, there are 3 levels of Outlook users:

  • 101 Level: Beginners
  • 201 Level: Intermediates
  • 301 Level: Experts

Outlook 101: Tips for Beginners

  1. Tell Me what You Want to Do.” This has replaced the “Help” button in the top right of your Outlook screen.  When you click it, not only will it provide information to help you, but it will direct you to the place you need to be in Outlook.  For example, if you want to set up an “Out of Office” automatic reply, you type in “Out of Office” and Outlook takes you to the screen to set this up.
  2. How to Change the Font Size.  On the bottom right of your screen, you can zoom in and zoom out to change your text size.  Or, you can go to the View ribbon, to Settings for fonts, and a screen will come up where you can customize your text sizes. If you want to change fonts within your email, you can do this for each email you create.  Plus, you can go into File> Options> Mail> Stationery and Fonts.  Here you can set your standard fonts.
  3. Navigation Shortcuts. You don’t always need to use your mouse to select what you want to do. Within your email screen, simply “Right-Click” the message and options in the top ribbon like “Delete” “Reply” etc., pop up, so you can select what you want to do with your email.
  4. How to Search. On the top right of your ribbon, there’s an easy way to search your email mailboxes. You can search by a mailbox, by keyword, by subfolders and all Outlook items.  No more scrolling and looking into folders to find what you need. You can also “Right-Click” and click “Find-Related” to search for emails from individuals.
  5. How to Create a Signature. Go to “Tell Me What You Want to Do” type in “Create Signature” and Outlook will take you to the proper screen. You can set up different signatures. Go to “Create New” type in what you want to display, “Save” and when you compose an email you can select which signature you want to use.  You can attach pictures, web links, Twitter hyperlinks and more.

Outlook 201: Tips for Intermediates

  1. Quick Steps / Ribbon / Quick Access Toolbar. You have full ability to customize your Quick Steps, Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar. This enables you to perform functions that you use often.
  2. Moving Emails. The easiest way to move emails is to drag and drop them into select folders or mailboxes. However, when you have many folders, this can be quite cumbersome. Some quick ways to do this is to hit “Control Shift-V” when you’re in your email, and all the mailboxes come up in a screen.  You then type in the name of the folder, it will pop up and you can save your email here. Plus, you can go to the ribbon on the top and it will pick the most recent ones, or Right-Click and the most often used folders pop up.  If you use OneNote you can easily move emails here as well.
  3. E-Mail Templates. To set up various email templates, go to “Create New Message” “Options” and type in the name of your template. Go to your new message and the template will appear for you to select.  You can also create a new email, name it, and “Save As” an “Outlook Template.” To use it later go to “New Items” “More Items” “Choose Font” “User Templates” and select it.  You can add your templates to the Quick Access Toolbar or the Ribbon to have them on hand quickly by using the “Choose Form” command.
  4. Attach Recently Added Documents. This is a great addition to Outlook 2016.  Instead of searching across your files you can simply use a drop-down menu to view your most recently used files.  This is a huge time saver.
  5. Distribution Lists. Instead of creating individual messages for team members, you can create distribution groups.  Simply name the group (for example “Team), and when you create an email you simply type “Team” in the “To” line.

Outlook 301: Tips for Experts

  1. Let’s say you want to share a daily tips email with your staff that you’ve composed or received from someone. Simply Right-Click the email, and select what you want to do in the “Rules Wizard” (e.g., forward the email to your team).
  2. WebEx Integration. Many people use WebEx to host meetings. You no longer have to go to the WebEx site.  Go to “Create Meeting” and you can automatically schedule the WebEx meeting and send it to the team members you choose.   
  3. Re-Indexing. You should periodically re-index your data in Outlook. Outlook will take an inventory of your emails to optimize your search. Go to “File” “Options” “Search” “Index and Options.”  Hit “Advance” “Rebuild” and Outlook will automatically do this.  It may take some time to complete, so it’s best to do this overnight.
  4. If you get a lot of emails, you should perform the archiving function periodically. Go to: “File” “Options” “Advance.”  Set auto archiving settings to clean out old emails and files.  This will optimize Outlook’s performance, and your experience using it.

For more information about how to use Microsoft Outlook to its fullest potential, contact CSP’s Stephen Riddick, VP of Sales and Marketing at 919-424-2019 or   He’ll put you in touch with one of our Microsoft Outlook Experts.

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