Category Archives: Outlook

You can help reduce spam

While working with Outlook Web Access (now called Outlook for Web), I noticed a nice little feature which I felt would be useful to fight the junk mail menace and reduce spam.

While handling my mail using OWA, I marked a particular mail as Junk. This messaged popped up. This way, the contents of message will reach Microsoft immediately. That will help them block similar types of mails at server level itself in future. Try it out and help fight spam.

markspam

I could not find a similar feature in Outlook full version. I am assuming that the data must be going to Microsoft if you have participated in the Customer Improvement Program. 

Legal: How to manage 6 min billing in Outlook Calendar

Here is something I learnt yesterday at Wellington. I was conducting a session on Outlook for a team of EA and PAs for Government of NZ. I showed them the Outlook calendar can be managed at different levels of detail starting from 1 hour down to 5 minutes. Just right click on the time display in the daily or weekly view to change the setting.

6 minutes time slot in Outlook calendar

You will notice that there is a 6 minute option available there. Like most of us, I had never understood why would anyone want a 6 minute time slot. But then one of the participants enlightened me! Legal professionals always manage billing in 6 minute increments so that they can have 10 convenient slots per hour. I learnt something new.

This happens all the time. The more you teach, more you will learn!

If you think that a particular feature is useless – think again. This incident teaches you that every feature is designed with a purpose in mind. Discovering that purpose is called learning.

Want to learn more about effective email and time management?  Check out my Outlook Knowledge Pack (50+ articles).

 

How to open Outlook

Yes. You read it right. Don’t just open Outlook. Do it smartly. Usually, we need three windows open: Tasks, Calendar and Inbox. By default, it will open the Inbox. No worries. Just right click on the Calendar and Tasks icons and choose Open in New Window.

Now onwards, we can chose the desired window easily. The best part is, even if you close and re-open Outlook, it will automatically open those three windows. Simple and Effective. Try it!

Open Outlook Inbox Calendar and Tasks Windows

If you have too many windows open with mails, appointments and tasks and you want to close all of them, choose View tab – Close All Items. All windows, except the core ones (in this case, Inbox, Calendar and Tasks) will close in one quick action.

Close All Items option in Outlook

Outlook: How to Add your own columns in Outlook with Outlook Custom Field

This quick video illustrates how you can enhance the usefulness of Outlook beyond your imagination by adding your own columns to Outlook.  We can achieve this with the useful little known feature in Outlook called Outlook Custom Field.  Watch this video to understand the power and practical applications of this great feature.  Learn how to allocate incoming mails in a helpdesk to engineers or how to allocate incoming CVs to different recruiters.

Ultimate Outlook client: TouchDown

I have been using this for many years. I resisted writing about it for so long. But now, it is time to explain the reality. If you want full functionality of Outlook (rather Exchange Mailbox) on your Android or iPhone, use TouchDown. It is comprehensive, resilient and versatile. It implements Exchange capabilities to the fullest possible extent. Here is a quick list of what it has to offer.

Outlook Touchdown

  1. All types of folders are supported. Including Tasks.
  2. Supports color categories
  3. Allows you to convert a mail to task
  4. Shows full conversation view
  5. Fully customizable feature set
  6. Mobile forms support
  7. Implements full Outlook mobility policy
  8. Supports 80% of desktop Outlook features (often easier)

If you have not tried it, try it NOW. In the App Store or Google Play, there will be two versions visible: TouchDown and TouchDown HD. Most of us should use the HD version, which is designed for Android (Honeycomb/ICS/JellyBean Tablets and Smartphones). Another version is available for older Android Phones.

The user interface may look dated. Nowadays, user interface “coolness” seems to be more important than functional benefits. In spite of that, you will appreciate the sheer flexibility and customizability of this product.

For technical folks, this is the best implementation of Exchange Web Services. I am saddened by the fact that Microsoft’s own clients for Outlook offer a very small subset of functionality of what TouchDown offers (in spite of many acquisitions).

Here is a screenshot of the advanced configuration options – just to give you a feel of the richness of this product.

Touchdown advanced settings

It offers a free trial for 30 days, after which you pay approx. 20  USD per year.
In my opinion, it is absolute value for money. The only other app which has such high ROI, in my opinion, is LastPass (which is 11 USD per year) – in terms of sheer value add.

Disclaimer: I have no commercial contract with TouchDown or Synamtech. I do not benefit in any way due to sales of this product.

New outlook towards Outlook

New Outlook towards outlook

Things have changed. We have to look at Outlook differently. Otherwise we will continue to misuse it. Spend just five minutes to understand the new role of Outlook:

  • Use Clutter to clear out less relevant mails
  • Identify important mails
  • Avoid excessive mail attachments by using links
  • Manage your work better with Task Folder
  • Use Skype for Business and Skype FB for faster, more secured teamwork
  • Use Yammer to faciliate discussion, ideas and progress
  • Recap: Which one to use when

 

Read related articles here.

How to handle post-holiday mailbox deluge

Welcome back after a long holiday. I am sure an overflowing mailbox is waiting for you. Here are some simple but useful ways to get a grip on it and handle it efficiently.

  1. Mails received earlier are waiting longer. Therefore, try to start from the day after you went on leave. If you went on leave from Christmas, go to the Search box and type received>25 dec 2015
  2. Now sort the results in descending order of time and check for important mails.
  3. Look for mails which are addressed ONLY TO YOU. This is easily done by creating a special rule.
  4. Think of important customers, boss, or other high priority senders. Create a rule which highlights mails from them using a color category. Group by that category and handle these mails first.
  5. One approach is to look at unread mails only. But nowadays, we often see the mails first on a mobile phone. This marks the mail as read. In spite of that action may still be pending. Therefore Unread mails is an unreliable indicator of pending work. To avoid this confusion in the future, use the message flag when you read a mail on mobile but intend to act upon it later.
  6. Convert actionable mails to Tasks and put a deadline. DO NOT mark them with the follow up flag. Drag the mail using the right mouse button and drop it on to the Task icon. Choose the Move with Attachments option.
  7. Filter on Importance flag. Mind you, this flag is usually set by the sender. However, if it is important to the sender, there is a good chance that it is important to you as well. Type Importance: High in the Search box.
  8. Confidential mails are generally more important. Type Sensitivity: Confidential in the Search box to find such mails. There is no easy way to filter IRM protected mails. These mails are visually identifiable with this type of icon how to handle post-holiday mailbox deluge

If you use an Office 365 mailbox, use Clutter to automatically segregate less important mails. That’s it for now. Happy New Year.