Outlook Views: Minimize, Maximize, Customize!By Bill Bullock
Outlook 2007 provides some amazing improvements over previous versions of the program that make it one thing that is almost always running on my computer.
Being able to check my calendar items, tasks, email, and RSS feeds all in one place has added immensely to my productivity.
Sometimes though, I find that I need access to one of those items more than others in order to get things done even more efficiently. Maybe my favorite RSS subscription is distracting me from getting an article done, emails from coworkers need more attention (and screen real-estate) than usual, or I just want to customize my view for a change of pace.
Well Outlook has a host of options to do just that, and lucky you, I’m about to demonstrate some of them right now!
Below is a screencap of a pretty standard view in Outlook 2007. All of the panes and windows are visible in their default layout. This is actually a fairly useful view layout, especially for reading email:
However sometimes (especially for those who don’t have a widescreen monitor) this view, with the reading pane on the right, can make it quite hard to read messages. In those situations you have a couple of options. First, you can minimize the navigation pane, the to-do bar, or both.
Do this by clicking the View menu, selecting either the Navigation Pane or the To-Do Bar and then selecting minimize. You can achieve the same thing by clicking the double-chevron button (>>) on either of these panes. Below is a screencap with both panes minimized.
Now obviously, it can be quite difficult to navigate between folders and still keep this view, so Outlook provides an extremely handy pop-up navigation window when you click on the minimized Navigation Pane, as shown below. The same thing can be done with the To-Do Bar.
Another option for customizing reading is to move the Reading Pane to the bottom instead of having it on the right. This is accomplished by clicking the View menu at top, selecting the Reading Pane option and then selecting Bottom. The result is a radically different view of email messages, and is shown below. This of course can be combined with the previously mentioned items.
The Navigation Pane itself has numerous customization options that you may not be aware of. If you have many custom folders, RSS feeds you check regularly, or just want a different way to view and access your messages and tasks, you can use the Current View Pane option to give yourself more ways to organize your messages with fewer clicks.
To activate this useful option, simply click the View menu, select the Navigation Pane option, and then select Current View Pane. This will make finding and organizing messages far easier.
The last option I will mention here is one that seems very simple, but can have a dramatic effect on how you navigate Outlook 2007.
While the Navigation Pane is normally context sensitive and will change depending on whether you are using mail, tasks, contacts, etc, there are times in which you would like to move more easily between all of these items from one centralized folder hierarchy (like Windows Explorer).
Well luckily there is such an option. The folder list option makes any of Outlook 2007’s separate modules the central focus with just one click. The normal view of the mail folders is shown here:
Followed by the same view with the Folder List button enabled:
You can see how this option can be very useful in certain situations. Of course, this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to customization in Outlook 2007. With all of the different view options, individual folder options, and opportunities to mix & match them, the possibilities really are close to endless.
Unfortunately, this article is not. Therefore, I must tell you to keep trying out the different Outlook view options on your own. Find something that matches your personal style, and helps you get things done more efficiently and simply.
Why not post some of your favorite options in the comments?
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The new Outlook 2007 has more features and gives you more control — if you know how to use it. Some of the topics covered in the training include:
- Installing and setting up your profile
- Personalizing the Outlook 2007 Interface
- Effectively organizing your information
- Using third party add-ons to increase productivity
- Managing calendars, meetings, tasks, contacts, distribution lists and more!
So if you want to take advantage of everything the new Outlook has to offer check out Train Signal’s Microsoft Outlook 2007 Training Videos!
About the Author
Bill Bullock (Network +) is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. Bill writes how-to articles on a variety of topics and has written about his experiences with obtaining his CompTIA Network+ certification for which he used Train Signal’s Network+ course to study for the exam.