Mastering Outlook isn’t about one’s potentiality to hunt for options; it’s about understanding the architecture and logic of integration and the zest to get things done easier.
Regular updates to a workgroup without having to compose a new mail every time.
Almost everyone knows how to copy and paste text to re-use the same boilerplate in more than one document by saving a copy in drafts folder. But did you know you can do the same thing with forms?
In case your job involves sending a certain template to a workgroup or distribution list; you might have that template saved in the drafts folder that is handy to reuse. Forms featured in Outlook helps you do this in a better way.
Compose the message you need in the new mail default form, include all graphics and spreadsheets that you might require and you could also fill up the recipient’s addresses. Once you finalize the content of the template, go to developer tab and click on Publish under the Forms section. This opens up a dialog allowing you to save your form in any of the outlook folders or built-in folders like Standard Forms or Personal Forms. Now that you have a form ready, use it by clicking on choose form in the New drop-down menu, browse to the folder you have saved it in and see all your content. Now, every time you open that form, a copy of the document will be opened—No risk of ever saving over the original.
Dynamically update Excel worksheets in Emails.
Most of us have excel worksheets that include reports that need to be communicated to workgroups through mails that get updated time to time. Generally we save such mails in drafts, and either attach the new Excel file or copy and paste the worksheet to the email every time we send it out. The disadvantage to this option is having to send files to people which turns out to be unusable once the data changes over time; copying and pasting data from Excel takes away the formatting and other functionalities of Excel which allows us to manipulate that data.
Thanks to Excel and Outlook integration, we have a better way to get this done. Copy the data you need in Excel, click on the dropdown below paste on the compose window and click paste special; This opens a dialog; select Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet Object. Choose the radio button Paste if you just need the functionality of Excel in Outlook, whereas Paste link allows for dynamic updating of data in Outlook as the source file changes. If the source file is hosted on a shared location the recipient gets the most reliable data as it syncs with the source as it’s opened. Clubbing this with the knowledge of forms can be a great timesaver.
Triaging mail with Categories and Search Folders and using Colors
In this section I will discuss a way in which you can triage mail using categories, Search Folders and color code. Keep in mind that no single email management method is ideal for all work styles; this is just one ways of many.
Setting up your mailbox.
In order for this to work you will need a set of categories that represent what action you need to take with any given email, like:
- Response Needed – Use this for emails that you need to follow up on. If something is extra important it should probably get a response right away – everything else can get this category.
- Read Later – Use this for emails that don’t need a response, but should get read eventually.
- Reference – This category will be for emails that contain information that will be useful to access later.
- Personal – And finally, a category for non-work-related emails just to keep them separate from the rest.
This can be clubbed with the rules to automated categorization. Under search folders is the Categorized mail folder where your mails are categorized.
Now let’s set up the search folders you will be using to help manage your mailbox. You will need one search folder for each of the criteria you need to focus on. Here’s how you can make them:
Right-click Search Folders in the Navigation pane and select New Search Folder. You will see a dialog like the one on the right.
Scroll down the list and select any of the built-in criteria or create a custom criteria where all parameters of an email message can be considered to create a search folder to narrow down to the result.
Be careful about the folder to which you restrict your search or you’ll bring in mails from sent items and deleted items in the search folder
Further to the organizing capabilities is the Using colours
This feature is particularly useful if you need some category of emails to stand out specifically in your inbox. This option can be found at Organize in the tools menu.
Crawling the web for information you seek on a specific topic has become difficult with the sources increasing exponentially and what if you have to monitor multiple sources and periodicals on a particular topic?
What if you could make something do this for you; imagine how this thing could crawl the Web using the query you supplied and notify you every once in a while when something new and exciting shows up? Outlook can team up with your favourite search engine and notify you when new and exciting events occur!
The trick is to create an RSS query for exactly what you would find using a search engine. For example, I used the following query to make Live Search return all the latest references on “Petra Němcová”
Then I clicked RSS on the Internet Explorer toolbar and viola – Live Search created a perfectly valid RSS feed for me. The same feed will show up on Outlook navigation pane under RSS Feeds folder. After a short while you will see it fill with short excerpts from the news.
Many people follow up on user forums on SharePoint by using the SharePoint site on a browser. However, checking each post with mere flexibility of a browser can be difficult if one uses it extensively. There’s nothing wrong with opening SharePoint forums in a browser but you can accomplish the same by synchronizing with Outlook, the reward is the capability to categorize favourite conversations, offline access and being able to reply from Outlook or even connect it to Microsoft Office Access.
Publish calendars to Microsoft Office Online
Share your calendar with anyone or a select few by publishing your calendar online. This is useful because you can share your availability or the latest developments with co-workers or clients without being saddled to any particular operating system and even if an email client is not available or even without VPN. Having a client's published calendar synced with Outlook is another function worth mentioning.
Delegation of rights
Similar to having an assistant help you manage your incoming paper mail, you can use Microsoft Office Outlook to allow another person, known as a delegate to receive and respond to meeting requests or responses and to send e-mail messages on your behalf. You can also grant additional permissions that allow your delegate to read, create, or have full control over items in your Exchange mailbox. This is a more advanced feature than just sharing folders
Manage your daily priorities and information
Check your priorities for the day by looking at the To-Do Bar where your flagged mails and tasks are clearly laid out. The To-Do Bar also connects tasks you may have stored in other Microsoft Office programs like Project, OneNote, and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services. Finally, the integration of the To-Do Bar items on the calendar helps you easily schedule and block off time to follow up on items. In addition to this is Journal that lets you track completed activities in all of Microsoft Office applications.
Track your time in Outlook Journal
Journal can be a great time tracking and time-management resource. By using Journal, you can keep close tabs on the way you spend your time during the day. And tracking your time in this way can be particularly helpful in identifying projects or specific types of events that are consuming your time.
Whether you bill for the time you spend on particular projects or for specific clients, or whether you just need to track time spent on a particular project, consider tracking these items in Outlook by using Journal.
Backing up profile information
Wouldn't it be great if you could easily copy your Outlook profile information from one computer to another; without manually setting it up on another computer? Setting up a profile can be tedious depending on the number of RSS feeds, external mailboxes, calendars and address books you have set up on a profile. Office customization tool helps you understand the architecture underlying Outlook profiles and to create profiles. For a normal user copying the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles to another computer completes this task. This copies all profiles under that user to another computer.