5 Tips to get the most from Microsoft Outlook

Wed 8th Feb 2023 | Microsoft 365

Microsoft Outlook has over 400 million users, making it one of the most widely used email and calendar systems on the planet.

When used correctly, Outlook is a powerful tool that can help you stay organised and manage communications effectively. However, many people don’t know the full range of features that are available and in this article, we’ll highlight six tips to help you work smarter.

1. Make Use of the Focused Inbox Feature

In December 2022 the Clutter feature that allowed users to automatically sort emails into folders and filter out low-priority emails, was removed, this was replaced with the Focused Inbox. Outlook now uses ‘machine learning’ to analyse your email-related habits and then works out which emails are most important to you. Then, it cleverly moves low-priority emails to a separate folder and leaves higher-priority emails in your inbox.

Here is how to enable Focused Inbox:

  1. In Outlook, select the View tab.
  2. Select Show Focused Inbox.

When you return to your inbox, you will see that your emails have been organised into two categories – Focused and Other.

How to use focused inbox in Microsoft Outlook

2. Automate Your Inbox With Mailbox Rules

Mailbox rules allow the automation of email actions based on particular conditions. An example would be creating a rule that moves all emails from a specific sender to a certain folder. Another example is if you have a shared mailbox, you can set up a rule to store emails in specific folders based on exactly who the email is addressed to. These rules basically allow you to reduce manual actions and repetitive tasks.

There are two ways of setting up a mailbox rule in Microsoft Outlook

Method 1: Right-click an existing message:

  1. In this process, start by finding the message you want to use as the template for your rule and then right-click on it.
  2. Next, navigate to Rules > Create Rule.
  3. A dialogue box will open and this contains several options for setting a new rule.

Automate Your Inbox With Mailbox Rules in Microsoft Outlook

Method 2: Use the Rules Wizard and create one from a template:

  1. If you need to configure a more complicated rule, you can use the Rules Wizard. Go to File > Manage Rules & Alerts > New Rule to get started.
  2. Find and select the relevant rule and click the Next button, then follow the wizard steps to create your new rule.

Rules wizard in Microsoft Outlook

3. Sync your Google Calendar

Syncing Outlook with your Google Calendars will allow you to view all of your events and meetings in one place to help ensure you never miss an important event again!
To do this, sign into your Google Calendar and find the calendar that you want to sync in the left-side menu. Next, click the … icon then click Settings and Sharing.

Sync Google Calendars with Microsoft Outlook

  1. Then, go to Integrate Calendar and make a note of the secret iCal address. (Important Note – Do not share this with anyone else and bin it once you have finished integrating your calendar.)
  2. In Outlook, select File > Account Settings > Account Settings and then go to the Internet Calendars tab, and click New.
  3. Paste the secret address and click the Add button.
  4. Finally, enter the name of the calendar as you want it to appear in Outlook in the Folder Name box and click OK.

Google Calendar integration with Microsoft Outlook

4. Delay Your Emails to Avoid Mistakes

We all make mistakes and everyone has sent an email, only to find out they’ve sent it to the wrong person, forgotten to include certain information or accidentally sent it too early! This is why Outlook has the Delay Delivery option – to give you more time to spot errors.

  1. To switch this on, go to Options and then select Delay Delivery in the More Options panel.
  2. In here you can set how long you would like the email delivery to be delayed for. This is up to you but 5 minutes is a common delay period to use, as it gives you time to check over your correspondence without too long a delay.

Outlook email delay

5. Tag Emails as Important

A very simple but useful tip is to tag emails as important where necessary. This will allow you to quickly identify important emails, even if they are not your immediate priority. You can both tag emails you receive as important and also mark emails you send as high priority to request more attention from your recipient.

Tag emails as high importance in Microsoft Outlook

  1. To tag an email as important when creating a message, find the Tags group on the Ribbon, and select the High Importance button.
  2. For incoming emails, we recommend changing the priority level of the message.
  3. First, double-click to open a received email (when viewing a message in the Reading Pane, you cannot change its importance).
  4. Next, in the Tags group on the Ribbon, click the More arrow to open the Message Options menu. Then, use the Importance drop-down to change the importance level, and then click the Close button.
  5. Finally, close the message, and when Outlook asks you if you want to save changes, select ‘Yes’.

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