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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 23, 2007 • Issue 07:07:02

Out-of-sight Outlook tricks

By Joel and Rachael Rydbeck
Nubrek Inc.

While not everyone uses Microsoft Outlook for e-mail, enough of us do. So we thought an article on time-savers and cool techniques was in order. Different versions of the program may require variations on the instructions that follow.

Kick it with the keyboard

Let's begin with some keyboard shortcuts to speed your e-mail communications. For more keyboard tips and other types of shortcuts in Outlook, visit office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP030842231033.aspx.

Action Keyboard shortcut
Create new message Ctrl+Shift+M
Reply to open message Ctrl+R
Save message being edited Ctrl +Enter
Switch to mail Ctrl+1
Switch to calendar Ctrl+2
Switch to contacts Ctrl+3
Create appointment Ctrl+Shift+A
Create contact Ctrl+Shift+C
Create distribution list Ctrl+Shift+L
Save, close and send Alt+S
Save Ctrl+S or Shift+F12
Undo Ctrl+Z or Alt+Backspace
Delete Ctrl+D
Print Ctrl+P

Know the rules

Rules allow you to filter and sort e-mail as soon as you receive it. For example, Joel has a rule that puts all e-mail in which he is cc'd into a separate folder, so he can read it later. This gives him more time to reply to e-mail sent directly to him.

There are two ways to set up rules. One is to right click on the e-mail for which you wish to create a rule. A screen will open and let you walk through the rules you wish to assign this type of e-mail. You can also manage rules by selecting from Outlook's top menu bar: Tools g Rules g Alerts.

Energize e-mail efforts

Outlook is an e-mail client (Eudora, Thunderbird and TigerMail are others). To receive e-mail, you must first set up an account. All e-mail accounts use either the Post Office Protocol or the newer Internet Message Access Protocol. Popular e-mail applications are Google's Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. Outlook can receive e-mail from these and many others.

To set up multiple e-mail accounts, select from Outlook's top menu bar: Tools g E-mail Accounts g Add a New E-mail Account.

Corral calendar power

Did you know you can create and view multiple calendars? This comes in handy if, for example, you want to keep your work-related deadlines, meetings and so forth separate from your personal appointments and events.

To create a new calendar:

  • Select Calendar under Outlook's left-hand menu.
  • Right-click on any calendar appearing under My Calendars.
  • From the list that appears, select New Folder.
  • From the Create New Folder window, enter the name of the new calendar in the Name Field, choose Calendar Items and click OK. Your new calendar will now appear under My Calendars.
  • Select the calendar you wish to view, or if you wish to view multiple calendars at once, select the ones you wish to see.

Zip through time zones

If you frequently work with customers in different time zones, you may want to take advantage of Outlook's time zone feature. It allows you to add more than one time zone to your calendar so you know what time it is anywhere from Minneapolis to Moscow.

To do this:

  • From Outlook's View menu, select Day.
  • Right-click on a specific time in the calendar.
  • Select Change Time Zone from the list that appears.
  • In the Time Zone window, check Show an Additional Time Zone, select a zone from the Time Zone Menu and give it a name in the Label field. Provide the current time zone a label in its field, too.
  • Click OK.

Plug into plug-ins

David Allen wrote a popular book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Numerous people have successfully adopted Allen's practices for managing tasks. He has created an Outlook plug-in that provides the ability to manage projects, right-click on e-mails to automatically create tasks, utilize built-in task management to manage inboxes and more.

The cost is $69.95 per license. It is totally worth the price. For more information, visit gtdsupport.netcentrics.com/buy.

Most Web conferencing tools integrate with Outlook. A few we know of are GoToMeeting, Office Live Meeting and Unyte Meeting.

4Team Corp. has several cool plug-ins. Its FreeBusy tool will respond to e-mail if you are not available to answer at once. For example, if you are in a meeting or on vacation, the tool will make sure the same person doesn't receive the message twice.

Other 4Team plug-ins include a calendar collaboration tool called Schedules4Teams and Fax4Office, which does just what it says. For more information about 4Team visit www.filesland.com/companies/4Team-Corporation/products.html. For a robust list of add-ins and plug-ins for Outlook, go to www.office-addins.com.

Find further functionality

While we have barely scratched the surface of cool Outlook features, hopefully you learned a few new things. If not, maybe you are curious to see what office challenges you can solve using a tool you already have.

If you are looking for a specific tool, try a quick Google search to see what is out there. Chances are you aren't the only business wanting Outlook to perform a special function.

It is easy to ignore all the extras in a feature-heavy product like Outlook. Checking and responding to e-mail becomes routine. It is commonplace to forget to look for new functionality, especially with a product that you use day in, day out.

Outlook has a tip of the day. Interested? Simply select Show the Office Assistant from Outlook's Help menu. Then select Options, and specify which tips you would like to see. As always, we welcome your e-mail. The Green Sheet, Inc.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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