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October 31, 2007

Power Up Your Outlook: 5 Things You Must Know How To Do

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Outlook 2007 is an incredibly powerful tool. More than just your email client, you can use the new Outlook to organize your entire day. You can set up your calendar, get feeds from the internet, manage your contacts and meetings, and much more.

But before you can call yourself a serious Outlook user, there are some items that you need to know how to take advantage of. Here are 5 things that you need to do to get the most out of your Outlook experience:

1. Creating a Distribution List

If your work requires you to send a lot of emails to coworkers, clients, or any other group of people you know that it can be very time consuming to send out mass email announcements. You have to type in every name every time, and there is always the possibility that you typed in a name wrong, or accidentally put someone on the list because their name is similar to the one you meant to send the message to.

Needless to say, it can be a pain, and if you ever have to send a mass email more than once, it will really serve you well to set up a distribution list (or a few different ones!) to make your life much easier.

To create one, simply click the down arrow on the New button and select New Distribution List:


Distribution List 1

A window will pop up, where you can enter the email addresses of the people you want on your list. You can select names from your contact lists, or enter them in manually. Hit Save & Close, and you’re done!


Distribution List 2

The best part is, not only can you send emails to everyone on the list by just typing in the name of the list (which you specify), but you can also click the handy plus (+) button, and show all the names of the people on the list. This is great if you need to send an email to many different people from the list, but want to remove one or two people. This is definitely something you should check out.

2. Creating a Signature

When you send emails from your “business presence” it is much more professional to use a signature. It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated, just the essentials of name, important phone numbers, and email adresses (seems redundant, but it’s still important).

If you are interested in doing so, you can even add a picture to your signature as well. However, this is not highly recommended, since Outlook will attach the picture file to every email with your signature. And this can be a problem if you want to limit the size of your email messages.

You can create a signature by going to the Tools Menu, choosing Options, and then clicking the Mail Format tab, and finally clicking the Signatures button.


Signature 1

Edit your signature, give it a name, and then choose if you want it to appear in all emails automatically, or if you have to add it manually. Here is an example of my signature here at Train Signal:


Signature 2

3. Creating a Personal Folder

With the massive amounts of email that we get over time, it becomes incredibly difficult to keep track of it all. Even with the brand new search capabilities, it will make your life so much easier if you organize your items into personal folders.

All you have to do to create a personal folder is click the down arrow on the New button and choose Folder.


Personal Folder 1

On the menu that pops up, select the location of the folder and give it a name. That’s it! Now feel free to use the different methods to move your items into the folders (either automatically or manually), and get organized!


Personal Folder 2

4. Creating Delegates

A delegate is a person designated access to your email, calendars and other folders. This person can send messages on your behalf, and can manage your tasks and meetings. This can be extremely useful for those who are extremely busy, or need someone to answer their emails (but not with an automated response) while they are away from the job. The one caveat about this feature is that you have to be using an exchange server to access it.

With that out of the way, it’s really easy to set up a delegate. Just click on the Tools menu and select Options. From there, click the delegates tab. Add the name of the person or people you want from your exchange contacts, and click Ok.


Delegates

Click Ok once more on the options dialog window to close that, and you are done. This is an extremely useful feature, but I think it goes without saying that you should be extremely careful who you give access to your mailbox. Remember, they have access to everything.

5. Creating Voting Buttons

Something that is massively overlooked in email is voting messages. When coupled with the distribution list feature mentioned earlier, this can be an incredibly useful way to get information from coworkers or others.

When you set up an email message with voting buttons, you can set up either a “yes or no” vote or a multiple-choice style survey right inside Outlook. The best part is that using this method, you won’t have to do any counting of votes. Every person who clicks one of the choices will automatically be counted in the totals that are sent back to you in real-time.

To set this up, just create a new email massage, then click the options tab in the ribbon interface. Now click the “Use Voting Buttons” button.


Voting Options

You will get a dropdown menu with options on what kind of vote you want. You can choose yes/no or approve/disapprove votes, or you can choose to create a custom vote. Needless to say, this can save you lots of time if you need to get approval of something, or you just want to take a quick survey of where to get lunch.

That’s all for now. You’ve got a lot to try out though, so have fun!

Get more Must-Know tips with Train Signal’s Microsoft Outlook 2007 Training Videos — Available Now!

outlook_2007_training_200x150.jpg

Our instructor led videos will help you manage your time more effectively and get you more organized. Some of the topics covered in the Outlook 2007 training include:

  • Installing and setting up your profile
  • Personalizing the Outlook 2007 Interface
  • Effectively organizing your information
  • Using third party add-ons and other resources to help you be more productive
  • Managing calendars, meetiings, tasks, contacts, distribution lists and more!
  • Learn more about this training and see a free demo here!

    About the Author

    (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.


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