Outlook is one of the most powerful and popular pieces of software in the Office suite.As many professionals’ email software, it is also one you may well use everyday. However, perhaps because of the many functions and deeply personalisedways of using it (after all, we all work with email differently), many of itssmartest functions can remain undiscovered. Well: no longer, because Outlook ismy latest case, and by solving it, I can save you extraordinary amounts oftime.
The Target: Outlook 2010, some features also apply with limited functionality to earlier editions of Outlook going back to 2001
Whereabouts: Included in Office 2010 “Home and Business” or “Professional” Editions, or available standalone from the Microsoft Store.
Modus Operandi: Manage calendars, tasks, contacts and priorities along with all your communications (emails and information feeds). Outlook is the one-stop-shop for day-to-day organisation.
As a small business, you probably use email every day. Typically, you also use the same functions several times every day: for example, moving emails into folders which make most sense for the organisation of your business, or sharing specific emails with other people.
There are two smart tools built in to Outlook 2010 which will help make these regular actions much simpler:
1) Rules: Rules have been around for many years; and they completely automate a number of popular tasks so that they happen entirely in the background – you won’t need to click a single key for Rules to get to work. Since there are no keystrokes, Rules are triggered by specific events, for example an email from a specific address coming in.
2) Quick Steps: New in Outlook 2010, Quick Steps string together multiple keystrokes, thus simplifying a broad range of tasks, but requiring you to initiate the process.
So: Rules automate stuff so that it happens in the background; Quick Steps shorten repeated processes which you kick off.
Rules are applied when emails are either received or sent. When a rule is activated, it can
So, for example, you can:
To set up a rule, hit File > Manage Rules and Alerts > Email Rules > New Rule
You can either create one from scratch, or use one of several predefined templates for common tasks, like some of those described above.
Whichever you choose, and however you customise them, the structure of rules is always the same:
Quick Steps are rather like Rules which are triggered by you. As we said above, they are shortcuts which generate multiple actions with one keystroke instead of several; which rapidly simplifies repetitive tasks. You can have lots of Quick Steps for different purposes in your Quick Steps Gallery, and you can give them names which are meaningful to you and your business.
A typical Quick Step might, for example, forward an email to the same three individuals, then mark it as ‘Read’ in your own Inbox, and give it the custom Category “Service Calls”. This would be a typical repeat process for dealing with customer service enquiries which might otherwise require you to perform the same ten or so keystrokes again and again.
To create a Quick Step, find the Quick Steps Group under Mail on the Home tab. Hit Create New Quick Step and either select a pre-defined action, or hit Custom.
Give your Quick Step a name and an icon. If you wish, you can even give it a Keyboard Shortcut by entering the shortcut of your choice in the Shortcut key box– but remember not to overwrite an existing shortcut or you might end up with less functionality and speed than you started with!
Under Actions, select an action for the Quick Step to perform; and use the Add Action button to add more actions to be performed in sequence.
You may also like to discover the following further functions of Rules and Quick Steps:
Find out more:
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Easy guide to Rules
Easy guide to Quick Steps