10 Tips for Working More Efficiently in Microsoft Outlook

With the following tips you can easily manage your inbox efficiently and avoid troubles when composing, sending and receiving emails in Outlook.

  1. General Shortcuts

Like Microsoft Word, Excel, and other Office apps, Outlook has unique keyboard shortcuts so you don’t have to waste time moving your mouse around or drilling down through menus. Learn the ones you use most and you’ll speed through your Outlook tasks.

Ctrl+R: reply to email

Alt+R: reply to all in email or switch to the work week calendar view

Alt+W: forward email or switch to the weekly calendar view

Ctrl+M: F9 to Send/Receive all

Alt+S: Send email

Ctrl+G: open the “Go to date” dialog to jump to any date in the calendar.

You can also switch between mail, calendar, contacts, and other items in the navigation pane by hitting Ctrl + [the place number of the item]


  1. Take advantage of Outlook’s Quick Steps.


For those unfamiliar, Quick Steps is the killer feature Microsoft introduced with Outlook 2010. They’re shortcuts to any multi-step action you can think of, such as moving email to a specific folder and marking them as read or forwarding an email to your team and flagging it at the same time. It makes short work of repetitive tasks, and you can create your own Quick Step actions.

  1. Create a new item from your clipboard.

Copy any text to your clipboard, then in Outlook press Ctrl-V. Outlook creates a new message (or note or whatever item, depending on the folder you’re viewing) with the text already pasted.

  1. Limit desktop notifications to only the most important emails.

It’s terribly distracting to constantly be told “you’ve got mail!” but you still want to get notified for the most important alerts. In Outlook, set desktop notifications only for those VIP messages. To do this, first you turn off all desktop alerts under the Mail Options, then create an Outlook rule to display alerts for messages from specific people sent only to you.


  1. Flag messages – fast.

Users can use the Flagfor Follow Up featureto flag emails and tasks to help classify them or mark them.

The flag will remind you to track a problem, pointing out someone’s request or set reminders for a message, contact. They can also organize email folders easily because you know exactly what and when to do. Note that when user creates a task and set an expiration date, the task will automatically be flagged so you do not forget the expiration date of the implementing task.

=>>> How to share contacts in Microsoft Outlook


  1. Get emails that aren’t sent directly to you out of your inbox.

One of the best tips is to use a special “Inbox – CC” folder to gather all the emails that aren’t sent directly to you; that way, the inbox is focused on only the most important emails.

To set this up, go to Rules > New Rules…. Then click the “Advanced Options” button. In the Rules Wizard, select “Where my name is not in the To box” and then in the next screen, select “Move it to the specified folder.”

Alternatively, you can set up a VIP email folder and move “emails sent only to me” into that special folder.

  1. Use email templates to never write the same email twice.

For those emails you send often, such as requests for information or reminders of due invoices, save the email as a template via File > Save As… > Outlook template.

Then, to use the template, go to New Items > Choose Form… and look in your “User Templates in File System” to browse for the template you saved.

Or, even quicker, double-click the OFT file from Windows Explorer to create a new message from that template. You can also use text expansion to accomplish this across any program on your computer.

  1. Create search folders for your most important emails.

What are your most frequently accessed emails? Maybe they’re emails from your boss or certain subjects. For any search you perform often, just save the search for quick access.

Click on Search Folders in the left navigation menu, select “New Search Folder,” and then either use the wizards or manually customize the search to your specifications.


  1. Use natural language to create a calendar event.

Don’t waste time scrolling through the monthly date picker to find the exact date for an appointment or meeting. In the date field, type naturally “Independence Day,” “three days from tomorrow,” … Outlook will automatically find right up to that datefor you.

  1. Save Outlook notes, events, and any other item to the desktop for quick access.

It’s not just emails you can save to your computer outside of Outlook: calendar events, notes, contacts, and everything else can be dragged to the desktop or a Windows folder as individual items for quick access later. Double-click the item (even if Outlook isn’t open) and it’ll open right away in Outlook.


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