Tech Tip: Outlook Tips and Tricks

Many of us have been using Outlook for years. In fact, sometimes it feels like we’ve spent years of our life working in Outlook. Email won’t go away anytime soon, so we can gain time in our day using Outlook more efficiently. Microsoft continues to add new features to Outlook, often with little fanfare. Here are some tips to make Outlook work better for you:

Open Calendar in a Separate Window

Trying to schedule a meeting via email? Often people on an email thread are evaluating options, so sometimes it’s convenient to have multiple emails and your calendar all visible simultaneously. You already know you can double-click an email you’ve received to open it in its window. You can open a message you’re composing by clicking the “Popout” button on the right side of the new email or the “Pop Out” button on the top right of the new email. You can also open your calendar in a new window by following these directions:

  1. On the left in the Navigation Pane, right-click the calendar icon
  2. Choose “Open in New Window”
  3. Now drag that window onto your second monitor or a spot more convenient

Add Commonly Used Folders to Favorites

Favorite folders are listed in the top left of the Outlook window and offer a convenient way to jump to folders you use frequently quickly.

  1. To add a folder to the Favorites, right-click the Folder and choose “Show in Favorites”
  2. If you later find you don’t need that folder often, simply right-click the Folder and choose “Remove from Favorites”

Answer Repetitive Emails With Quick Parts

Do you find yourself typing the same email content again and again? You should try Quick Parts. Quick Parts allows you to create collections of reusable pieces of content. Using Quick Parts is much more convenient than mining old messages for copy+paste opportunities or, worse yet, retyping content you’ve already typed many times previously.

To add a new snippet to Quick Parts, open a new email, type your message or phrase, and highlight the text. Then, go to Insert > Quick Parts > Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.

Use the snippet you saved in future new emails by returning to the Insert > Quick Parts menu and selecting the Quick Part snippet you previously saved.

Reuse Frequent Messages With Email Templates

Like a bigger version of Quick Parts, email templates let you start a new message with an entire set of prewritten content, including the subject and recipients.

To create an email template, simply create a new email and type your message. Optionally, complete the recipients and subject lines if you wish to include them in the template. Then, go to File > Save As. Save the email in a folder that’s convenient for you to click on later. When you’re ready to send a message using the template, simply browse to the template, double-click it, make any adjustments, and send.

Automatically Process Messages with Rules and Alerts

Rules will automatically process messages the way you configure them. For example, you can tell Outlook to move messages from a certain recipient to a specific folder and mark them as read. The easiest way to create a Rule is to right-click a message you’d like to process, then click Rules and Create Rule.

Check the selected condition that will match similar messages in the future, and then tell Outlook to “Do the following” as you wish. Click Advanced Options to see all the types of Rules you can create. You can get pretty fancy in here and save lots of time moving, forwarding, and doing other things you used to do manually.

Process Messages with Quick Steps

A close cousin of Rules, Quick Steps can be used to manually process messages the way you configure. This is useful if you routinely do the same thing to a certain type of message, but want the message to remain in your inbox until you see it first.

  • Right-click a message
  • Click Quick Steps
  • Click Create New
  • Define what you want to happen when you run this Quick Step (since a Quick Step will only run when you trigger it on a message, there’s no option to set conditions like you do when creating Rules)
  • To run the Quick Step against a message, right-click on a message, Click Quick Steps, and click the Quick Step you created, or, with the message highlighted, click the Quick Step you created in the Quick Step area of the Home ribbon at the top of Outlook.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Many people love using “hidden” keystrokes to avoid mouse clicks. Here are some of our favorites in Outlook:

  • Reply to an email: Ctrl + R
  • To create a new email: Ctrl + Shift + M
  • To open your email: Ctrl + 1
  • To open your calendar: Ctrl + 2
  • To open your contacts: Ctrl + 3
  • To open your tasks: Ctrl + 4

Download the Outlook Mobile App

If you’re accessing your mail using the built-in Apple Mail app on your iPhone, you’re missing many of the features available to you in the desktop version of Outlook. To get quick access to common features like Automatic Replies, Focused Inbox, and more, consider using the Microsoft Outlook mobile app from the App Store instead of the built-in Apple Mail app. Both are free to Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Check out our blog’s Tips and Tricks section for more DIY technical know-how. Want some tips in a particular area? We love your requests, so please let us know what you want to see next month!