Use your mail to take action
Use Outlook to turn messages into items you can act on.
When you read a message in e-mail, that message often causes you to take some sort of action. Your action might be to respond right away with a reply, or to take some secondary action, such as setting up a meeting.
In order to clear away the clutter in your Inbox, think about a message as you read it and decide whether it requires action. If action is required, think about what you need to do. Should you respond right now? Later? Do you need to flag the message for follow-up, or create a task? Use Outlook to take action when and how you need to.
Drag a message to take action
Even if an e-mail message doesn’t require a direct response, the information in the message may still cause you to:
· Store contact information
· Create a task
· Set up a meeting
You can get started with each action by simply dragging the message to the appropriate button on the Navigation Pane. While this functionality isn’t new to Outlook 2007, it’s a handy way to see how messages in Outlook can have uses beyond e-mail.
Note that dragging creates a new item, and doesn’t get the message out of your Inbox. It’s up to you to delete it if you don’t need it anymore.
Set up a meeting
If a message makes you realize that you need to meet with someone, here’s a quick way to get started:
Drag the message to the Navigation Pane.
A new appointment opens, where you’ll fill in the rest of the details (such as the date, time, and location).
Then, you’ll invite the person to the meeting, and click
Create a Task
Sometimes a message contains information about some action that you need to take. For example, in the picture, the message from Ben Smith in Mark Lee’s Inbox reminds Mark that he needs to promote a line of office furniture that his company recently introduced.
Mark can drag the message from his Inbox to the Tasks button in the Navigation Pane to quickly start a new task. He can change the subject to something more task-like, for example Show office furniture to Coho, and then save the task. The task is added to Mark’s task list.
Create a Contact
If you’re keeping a message around so that you’ll have a contact’s e-mail address handy, we have a better idea. Why not create a contact entry in Contacts?
As we’ve shown in the picture, you can drag a message to Contacts to get the contact entry started. When you drag a message to the Contacts button, a new Contact form opens and the e-mail address in the message is automatically added to it.
From there you can fill in the rest of the details, such as a street address, telephone number, and so on. The next time you need to look up a bit of information about that contact, you’ll know right where to look: in Contacts.
By storing contact information in Contacts you’ll be able to easily search for the contact, add him or her to a distribution list, or use the person’s contact information in a mail merge. You can even store a contact’s picture with the contact so you can always see a face with the name. And new to Outlook 2007 are Electronic Business Cards, which you can use to quickly and easily share contact information. If you want to learn more, see the Quick Reference Card at the end of this course.
Suppose you receive a message with an attachment, and all you really want is the attachment. You’ll be glad to know that you can save the attachment to your hard disk independent of the message. That is, you can “extract” it from the message. Also, new to Outlook 2007 is the ability to preview some types of attached files right from the Reading Pane. Being able to preview a file this way may save you some time.
Once you’ve saved the attachment, you may no longer need the message. If this is the case, you can delete it or file it away. Another message out of your Inbox.
Caution Because attachments have the potential to carry computer viruses, handle them with care and be sure that you’re using an up-to-date virus checker. The Quick Reference Card includes more information about staying safer with attachments.
To Do Bar
Use flags and the To-Do Bar so that you remember to take action when you need to.
The first time you start Outlook 2007, you’ll notice something new. It’s called the To-Do Bar, and it’s there to help you keep track of what you need to do.
In the To-Do Bar, you’ll see upcoming items from your calendar as well as flagged messages and tasks. Curious about how things get into the To-Do Bar? That’s what this lesson will tell you.
Meet the To-Do Bar
The To-Do Bar displays flagged messages (which we’ll talk more about shortly), tasks from your Tasks folder, and upcoming meetings, appointments, and events from your calendar. In the To-Do Bar, you can see these things at a glance, without having to switch to other windows in Outlook. We’ve shown the basic parts of the To-Do Bar in the picture:
Upcoming calendar appointments
A place to enter new tasks by typing
Your task list (flagged messages and tasks)
Prioritize with follow up flags
If you read the first lesson, you’re familiar with the method of dragging a message to the Tasks button in the Navigation Pane to create a task from a message. The task helps you keep track of what you need to do, based on the information in the message, but it’s separate from the original message.
An even easier way to keep track of what you need to do, based on the information in a message, is to simply flag the message for follow-up. When you flag a message, you’ll remember to attend to it — even if the message starts to sink to the bottom of your Inbox.
In the picture, we’ve shown a message in the Inbox that has been flagged with a follow-up flag. Notice that the flagged message also appears in the To-Do Bar.
Tip Another quick way to attach a flag to a message is to drag the message directly to the To-Do Bar.
Flagged messages show up in many places
Messages that you flag for follow-up not only show up in the To-Do Bar, they also show up in your task list and on your calendar. That’s to help you remember to do the things on your list. And, if that’s not enough, you can set reminders for them so that you actually remember to follow up.
Change the subject, but only in the To-Do Bar
Because the subject of a message doesn’t always describe the task that you need to do, you’ll be glad to know that you can change the subject of a flagged message in the To-Do Bar. When you do this, the subject of the message in the Inbox is unchanged.
So, you may wonder: What’s the difference between a flagged message and a task created by dragging to the Tasks button? The answer is that it’s mostly a matter of style.
· If you like to delete messages after you’ve finished with them, you’ll probably prefer to use Tasks to keep track of things you need to do. (When you drag a message to the Tasks button, you create a new item, so deleting the message doesn’t affect the task.)
· If you like to keep your messages (either in your Inbox or in folders — which we’ll talk about in a later lesson), you’ll probably prefer to use follow-up flags because flagging is quick and easy.
When you complete, don’t delete
You may be tempted to delete items from the To-Do Bar when you’ve completed them. However, there’s a better way. When you complete a task, mark it as complete using the Mark Complete command. (A quick way to do this is to simply click the flag next to the item.) Completed items will drop off of your list as you might expect.
But what’s really helpful about marking an item as complete is that you’ll see it listed on your calendar at the bottom of the day on which you completed it. And it’ll be crossed out so that you’ll know you’ve completed it.
It’s a great way to remind yourself of all of the work that you’ve done.
In the To-Do Bar and in the Calendar, any task not marked as complete on its due date will automatically be carried over to the following day until you complete it.
Caution If you choose to delete an item from the To-Do Bar, the flagged message will also be deleted from your Inbox. Similarly, if you delete the flagged message from the Inbox, you’ll also delete it from the To-Do Bar. Mark Complete is safer.
Turn a message into a calendar entry
Earlier in this lesson we pointed out the Date Navigator at the top of the To-Do Bar. You can use the Date Navigator to quickly create a new calendar entry from a message. We’ve shown this process in the picture.
If you did the first lesson of this course, you’ll notice that this is similar to what you did when you dragged a message to the Calendar button in the Navigation Pane. Why is this method better? Because there’s one less step: The date information is filled in automatically to match the date you drag to in the Date Navigator.
Show the To-Do Bar as you like it
To change what’s shown in the To-Do Bar, click To-Do Bar on the View menu, and select or clear the items you want to show or hide. (Or, click Options to customize all To-Do Bar options at once.)
Showing and hiding the To-Do Bar is easy:
· To hide it, simply press ALT+F2 or click the Close button.
· Show it again by pressing ALT+F2 or by clicking the To-Do Bar submenu on the View menu (shown in the picture).
Tip Here’s a quick way to make more room for other windows in Outlook (like the Reading Pane): Minimize the To-Do Bar by clicking the Minimize the To-Do Bar arrow next to its title.
Organize Messages with Color
If you are working on a special project, you can make messages about the project easier to find later by marking all the related messages with a color-coded category. In the picture, we’ve shown some color-coded messages:
· Green is for messages about Coho Winery and yellow is for messages about Contoso.
· Notice that a message can be color coded with multiple colors if it applies to more than one account, as the selected message does.
· You’ll also see colored categories and their names in the Reading Pane.
If you used colored flags in Outlook 2003, you’ll find that Outlook 2007 improves on this concept by allowing you to use names along with the colors.
If a message belongs in more than one category, that’s okay. There’s no limit to the number of categories that you assign to a message.
How to assign a category
Wondering who creates the category names? You do. You create each category name and choose the color that’s associated with it. Then, you can assign that category to incoming and existing messages. One way to assign a color category to a message is to right-click in the Categories column and use the shortcut menu, as we’ve shown in the picture.
Once you’ve assigned a category to a message, you can quickly scan your Inbox and find the message just by looking for its colored tag.
Tip Unless you’re adapting an existing system that’s already working for you, it’s probably best to stick to just a few categories. Keeping the system simple will make it easier to use.
How to match names and colors
The first time you use one of the default categories, such as Purple Category, you’ll be prompted to give it a more specific name in the Rename Category dialog box.
At first, Outlook categories have unspecific names: Red Category, Orange Category, and so on. Naturally, categories will have the most meaning for you if you give them names that are specific to the type of work you do.
The first time you use one of the default categories, such as the Purple Category, Outlook will prompt you to rename it. You can type a new name for the category in the Name box, as we’ve shown in the picture.
Having trouble thinking of category names? It may help if you first think about what you have a hard time finding when you look through your e-mail. If you’re new to categories, you may want to start with simple, basic groups such as Business and Personal.
Can’t remember what the color means?
To see a list of categories and their associated colors, click the Categorize button on the Standard toolbar.
It happens to the best of us. We come up with a great system for keeping ourselves organized, and then poof, we forget one part of the system. Say, for example, that you used orange to color code all personal messages. Then, suppose you don’t get a personal message for a while, and you forget what orange means. No problem. The decoder is a just a click away.
Note You can also right-click the color next to a message to see the name of the category associated with that color.
View messages by category
Now, let’s suppose you’ve color coded all of your messages according to the projects you’re working on or the clients you work with. How can you view them in these groups? That’s easy: Click the Arranged By shortcut menu (under the Search box) and then click Categories. In the picture, we’ve switched from arranging messages by date to arranging them by their categories: Blue Yonder Airlines, Coho Winery, and Contoso.
Categories and rules, a great combination
You can color code messages automatically by using rules.
Are messages from your mom always personal? If you’ve got a Personal category set up, you can streamline categorization by creating a rule that automatically marks all messages from your mom with the Personal category. We’ve shown the basic steps for how to do this in the picture. You’ll get a chance to practice in the practice session that’s coming up next.
File your messages in folders.
Do you like an empty Inbox? One easy method for clearing away clutter is to create custom folders and then move messages out of your Inbox and into these folders. With folders, you choose the names, so how messages are organized will make sense to you.
Why create folders
In previous lessons in this course we’ve talked about ways to act on messages and ways to sort and organize them within a category. But what if you want to sort messages into distinct groups and keep them separate from other messages (and thereby get them out of your Inbox)? Folders can help you do this.
In the picture, we’ve shown an example of using folders: “Coho Winery” and “Contoso Ltd.”
You may already use a filing system in your office. Once you learn how to create folders, you can easily adapt any existing folder-naming system to Outlook. We’ll talk about how to create folders next.
Note If you took the lesson on flagging messages for follow-up, you may be wondering what happens to a flagged message if you move it from your Inbox to a folder. Because that flagged message also appears in the To-Do Bar, in Tasks, and in your Calendar, these reminders stay put in those places even if you move the underlying message.
How to create a folder
Knowing why to create folders isn’t enough, of course. In order to use folders, you need to know how to create them. Luckily, that’s simple.
To create a folder in your mailbox, you right-click Mailbox and click New Folder on the shortcut menu (as shown in the picture). From there, you would type the name of the new folder and click OK.
Move messages by dragging
An easy way to move a single message to a folder is to drag it from the list of messages to the folder in the Navigation Pane.
Once you’ve created a folder, you can move one message or multiple messages to it by dragging. We’ve shown how to drag a single message in the picture.
Move messages with a command.
The dragging method we just mentioned is fast. However, it has a down side: There’s a chance that you’ll accidentally “drop” the messages in the wrong location. A safer method is to right-click the message or messages you want to move and then click Move to Folder. In the example in the picture, messages are arranged by category. To move the entire Coho category to the Coho Winery folder, here’s what you would do:
Right-click the category heading.
Click Move to Folder.
Select the folder name from the list of folders in the Move Items dialog box and click OK.
This is an especially good choice when you want to move a collection of messages. For example, if you’re viewing messages in a certain arrangement, say by category, use this method to move all of the messages in that category to a folder as we’ve shown in the picture.
Use Favorite Folders
Once you start filing your e-mail messages in folders, you’ll notice that some folders get used more frequently than others. To make finding and filing go faster, move those frequently used folders to Favorite Folders.
To make a folder a favorite, drag it from Mail Folders to the Favorite Folders area of the Navigation Pane.
Note The folders stay in their original locations in your mailbox. The Favorite Folders area simply provides a quick and easy way for you to access them.
When a Favorite isn’t anymore
Favorites come and go. When a favorite folder falls out of favor, you can remove it from the Favorite Folders area of the Navigation Pane by right-clicking it and clicking Remove From Favorite Folders. Don’t worry, the folder will remain in your mailbox — it just won’t be displayed in the Favorite Folders area of the Navigation Pane anymore.
Caution Don’t use the Delete command to remove a folder from Favorites. That will delete the folder and its contents completely.
Find any messages, Fast
Instant Search makes it easy to find any message in any location.
Let’s face it. No matter how organized you are, whether you organize everything in folders or love to color code, the time will come when you just can’t find that important message.
Luckily, searching for messages in Office Outlook 2007 is not only easy, but it’s fast. And now you can search for messages that are in different locations, including archives or multiple mailboxes. No matter where you store your messages, Search can help.
Find it fast with Instant Search
If you searched for items in earlier versions of Outlook, you may remember having to do a lot of waiting and tweaking before you found what you were looking for. Maybe you even stepped out for a cup of coffee while you were waiting for your search results.
You’ll be glad to hear that with the new Instant Search, you’ll not only find messages much faster, you’ll also be able to quickly and easily fine-tune your search results: Add more words to your query and you’ll see the search results narrow, instantly.
Outlook now also makes it easy for you to see why a certain message appears in the search results: The words or terms that made a particular message a match are highlighted. You can see this in the picture, which shows the results of a search for messages containing the words “quarterly sales.”
Typing in the Instant Search pane brings up search results based on any matching words in a message. If you want to search on specific parts of a message — for example, if you want to search based on who a message is from, you’ll need to use advanced search terms.
To do this,
Click the Expand button (as shown in the picture)
and, type the advanced criteria.
You’ll notice that as you do this the words in the Instant Search box are updated to show the new criteria.
Tip You can also type advanced search criteria directly into the Instant Search box. To get a feel for what to type, look in the Instant Search box when you use the fields in the expanded Instant Search pane.
Search archives and beyond
New to Outlook 2007 is the ability to search multiple locations at one time. For example, you can search Archive folders and your Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox at the same time. How? Select All Mail Items as the location for your search. All Mail Items also appears at the top of the Instant Search pane so that you can clearly see what’s being searched. We’ve shown an example in the picture.
Here’s a possible scenario for you to consider:
Suppose you automatically archive any message older than 30 days because you rarely need to refer to messages beyond the current month. However, every once in a while, you do need to find one that’s older than that.
Luckily, it’s easy to search your archives. In earlier versions of Outlook, you had to search archives separately from your main mailbox. If you weren’t sure of the exact date of the message, that could have meant two separate searches: one search in your Exchange mailbox and one search in your Archives folder. By selecting All Mail Items, you can now search different e-mail locations all at the same time and look for that one message in all locations.
What about other Outlook items?
If you want to search your Inbox, Calendar, and Tasks all at once, you can. To do this, you would first switch to the Folder List (click Folder List in the Navigation Pane) and use the Instant Search pane there.
Otherwise, search is restricted to one type of Outlook item at a time. For example, you can search for messages or you can search for items in your Calendar. The good news is that once you get familiar with the new searching tools in Outlook 2007, you’ll use a similar Instant Search pane and techniques in each Outlook window including Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks.
See all of your messages again
When you search, the search results appear in the main Outlook window. They will remain there until you tell Outlook what to do next — say, perform another search or return to your Inbox.
You’ll always know that you’re looking at search results if the Instant Search pane is active. You can tell if the pane is active if it’s a different color from the surrounding panes and you see the words (Search Results) after the folder name at the top of the pane.
To restore all of the messages in the current folder, click the Clear Search button.
Tip You also can clear a search by clicking a folder in the Navigation Pane (for example, click Inbox in the Navigation Pane to restore the view in which you can see all of the messages in your Inbox).