Competent work with Outlook

E-mail, like the phone, is a service that users consider to be natural and integral. Sending and receiving messages is easy, but the functionality of email applications such as Microsoft Outlook is much wider than that of a regular phone.

E-mail, like the phone, is a service that users consider to be natural and essential. Sending and receiving messages is easy, but the functionality of email applications such as Microsoft Outlook is much wider than that of a regular phone. Users don’t always fully understand and apply these features. Some of the misused features of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2002 are collected in the following handy list that can be passed on to users of this application. A number of other tips on Outlook are published in the “Outlook: additional tips for users” box. With these tips, office employees will be able to work more productively with Outlook and maybe even more appreciative of Microsoft’s email client and calendar capabilities.

TIP 1.

Don’t store your messages in your Deleted Items folder
It’s hard to understand why some users view Deleted Items as a regular folder rather than a trash can. If you have reason to believe that a message may be useful in the future, it is better not to delete it but to save it in an Outlook folder. At the same time, you should ensure that you do not lose out when it turns out that an important message has been deleted the previous day. Firstly, it is necessary to disable the trash can cleaning mode when exiting the program. To do so, click on the Tools, Options, Other menu and clear the Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting checkbox. Then activate the AutoArchive (Tools, Options, Other) function and assign daily archiving. After that, you should set the Deleted Items folder properties to permanently delete messages that are about five days old (see screen).

TIP 2.

Garbage Filter: Install and Forget
Do not waste time processing useless messages. For most users, setting the High mode in the Microsoft Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter (Tools, Options, Junk E-mail) is sufficient for acceptable garbage filtering. Keep an eye on the Junk E-mail folder for a week after you start using Junk E-mail Filter in High mode with the latest filter updates. If it doesn’t contain any useful messages, except maybe from legitimate mailing lists, you should leave the filter in High mode. To exclude mailing lists from Junk E-mail Filter, add the “To” addresses of those mailing lists to the Safe Recipients list. If the number of erroneously rejected messages is too high, the filter should be set to Low mode. In this case, you should not waste time deleting messages from your Junk E-mail folder manually. It is better to use the AutoArchive feature, as explained in Council 1, so that Outlook automatically clears the Junk E-mail folder at regular intervals.

TIP 3.

Mass mailing of email messages using Microsoft Word
The Mail merge function works not only with mail stickers. From any contact folder in Outlook using the Tools command, Mail Merge can start the operation of merging e-mail messages using Word, which allows you to generate e-mail messages instead of printing them. The personalized, individual message will more successfully overcome the spam filters than the message in which the address of the recipient is specified in the “Copy” field.

TIP 4.

Creating search folders for typical search operations
Outlook 2003 has three built-in search folders – For Follow Up, Large Mail and Unread Mail – which provide a generalized view of the folders in the mailbox. However, the user can organize their own additional folders by right-clicking on the Search Folders folder in the folder list and selecting New Search Folder.

For example, I use NewsGator (, the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) message downloader from an independent vendor, to download the latest Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) content and news from some of the most interesting Web magazines to Outlook. I then filter the RSS feeds using the New Outlook Stuff search folder and see only unread items from these feeds that contain the word Outlook.

TIP 5.

Using flags to automatically colour-coded incoming messages
Prioritize incoming messages by highlighting the most important ones with coloured flags. To run the Rules Wizard, select Rules and Alerts from the Tools menu and then the Flag messages from someone with a coloured flag template. The condition from people or distribution list of this template allows you to apply one rule to multiple senders. For example, it is convenient to create one rule to mark the messages from the immediate superior and the superior with an orange flag, and the messages from family members with a purple flag.

TIP 6.

The dashboard will help you remember the values of the checkboxes
Outlook 2003 message flags are different in color, not in name, but with the help of a dedicated toolbar you can always have names and a set of buttons to mark messages quickly. To do this, go to the Toolbars and Customize functions in the main Outlook window in the View menu and click the New button in the Toolbars tab of the Customize dialog box. The toolbar can be called Flags. At first, the panel will be floating, but it can be fixed anywhere in the Outlook window. To add flags to the Flags toolbar, go to the Commands tab in the Customize dialog box and move the color checkbox command from the Actions list to the Flags toolbar. By right-clicking on the toolbar’s flag, you should assign a screen name in the Name field that will help you remember the meaning of this checkbox. To display the name in the dashboard next to the flag, select the Image and Text option. These steps should be repeated for the remaining five colored check boxes (you cannot increase the number of colors).

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