Microsoft Outlook has some handy features to help you sift through incoming email or compose new emails quickly and easily.  Here are 6 tips to help you get started.

1.  Quick Parts Inserts Phrases You Use Often

If you find yourself writing the same information over and over again in emails, this tip is for you.  Quick Parts stores frequently used phrases or paragraphs and you can drop them in when you need them. 

Here’s how:  In a blank email, type the text you use frequently, highlight it, and go to Insert -> Quick Parts -> Save selection.  Outlook has now remembered it. 

Next time you start typing that phrase, you’ll see it pop up as a suggestion and you can press Enter to insert it.  Or, you can go to Insert -> Quick Parts to add the text. 

2.  Keyboard Shortcuts Speed Up Routine Tasks

Use [Ctrl]+[R] to start a quick reply to the currently open email, [Alt]+[R] to reply all, and [Alt]+[W] to forward a mail.

3.  Simple Operators Help Narrow Your Search

If you’ve ever searched your Inbox with someone’s name who emails you frequently, you know how time-consuming it can be to find just that one email you need.  There are simple commands you can use to narrow your search. 

For example, “from: best client received: last week has attachment: yes” will yield far more narrow results than only searching on “best client”.  Here’s a list of ways to help you narrow your search criteria

4.  Prioritize Your Desktop Alerts for Fewer Distractions

You can control whether or not you get a desktop alert with every new email.  Desktop alerts can be distracting and take you away from your task at hand, especially if you get hundreds of new emails a day. To disable desktop alerts altogether, go to File -> Options -> Mail -> then disable the “Display a Desktop Alert” option under “Message arrival”

If you don’t want to disable desktop alerts completely, here’s how you can set up rules to help control which messages trigger a desktop alert. 

5.  Make a Virtual Post-It Note for a Quick Reminder

With your cursor on the message tab, type [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[N] to make a virtual post-it note.  You can put notes anywhere on the screen.  When you navigate away from that screen, to find the note again, click on the “…” button at the bottom of the navigation pane and select Notes.  

6.  Increase Font Size to Make Reading Easier on the Eyes

In an individual message, with the message open in its own window, click Zoom In on the Outlook status bar, click the percentage change you want, and click ok.  Or, using your mouse and scroll wheel, hold down the Ctrl key while turning the scroll wheel over the message text area. 

To change the font size on your message list, go to View -> View Settings -> Other Settings -> and set your font and sizes for columns and rows.  Click OK, the OK again, and your Outlook message list screen for that folder will reset to your choices.


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