Microsoft Outlook is a globally used platform for organizing emails, calendars, and sharing files. Over the years, Microsoft has enhanced and added many new features to Outlook. So, either you are using Outlook for the first time or want to improve your Outlook skills, this blog presents the 30 ultimate Outlook tips and tricks.
The dark mode is a common feature lot of applications are providing nowadays, and so does is Outlook. To set the dark mode in Outlook, click on "File" from the top left corner and then click "Options". In the "General" tab, go to the "Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office" section. There you will see the option "Office Theme" where you can choose the dark mode by selecting the theme as "Black". Once done, click "OK" to save the settings.
Outlook provides some pre-defined quick steps that can help you perform certain tasks quickly, such as reply & delete, team email, etc. In the "Home" tab, you will see the "Quick Steps" section where you can access all the quick steps. To create a new one, click on "Create New". A prompt will appear where you have to give this quick step a name, choose an action from the drop-down menu, assign a shortcut key, and complete other settings. Once down, click on "OK" and you will see the new quick step is added.
In Outlook, you see a separate section of the calendar where you can manage all your calendars. To add new calendars, go to the calendar window in Outlook and right-click the "My Calendars" section. From there, go to "Add Calendar" and choose whether you want to add a calendar from the address book, room list, or internet. But there is a much better approach to add calendars. Go to Office.com and login to your account. Now click on your Outlook web app and click on the "Calendar" icon from the bottom left corner. Afterward, click on "Add calendar" and a prompt will appear that shows different options to create a calendar. Here, other than creating traditional calendars, you also get the option to extract any school calendar, sports calendar, TV calendar, holiday calendar, or make a team calendar via TeamSnap. Once you have added the desired calendar, you can close the web app and go back to the Outlook desktop app. There you will now see all the added calendars.
4.Drag Email to Calendar
Let's assume you received an email and you want to set up an appointment/schedule in the calendar for that. To do that, simply drag that email to the calendar section and it will show you a new window for creating the appointment. It will also include the email content in it and the title of the appointment is set up to be the subject of the email. Now all you have to do is to set the time and date and other settings and click "Save & Close" to create an appointment in your calendar.
Just like social media apps, Outlook also provides the @mentions feature to let the concerned person give more attention. To use it, when you are writing an email, type "@" and select the person you want to mention. Now once the email is sent to that person, the concerned person will see your email with the "@" sign, showing that you used the @mentions feature for asking to give extra attention to the email.
Search folders are a great way to access filtered mail with just one click. For example, you can create a search folder that shows all the unread mails. So, instead of filtering your inbox to see the unread mails, you can just click the search folder to immediately access unread mails. To do that, go to the "Search Folders" tab from the left menu bar, right-click it, and then click "New Search Folder". A prompt will appear from where you can choose the filter option of your choice and then click "OK". You can also set up a custom search folder by clicking the "Create a customer Search Folder" option and then setting up the parameters as per your requirements.
There are multiple ways to clean up your mailbox in Outlook, as follow:
- In the "Home" tab, there is a "Delete" section where you can see the "Clean Up" option. Under it, you can choose to clean up a conversation, folder, or folder & subfolders.
- Click on "File" from the top left corner, then click the drop-down menu of "Account Settings" and then click "Account Settings". Double-click the email account and then click the "More Settings" button. Go to the "Advanced" tab and click "Outlook Data File Settings". From there, if you click on the "Compact Now" button, it will compress that file and remove lots of waste data.
- Click on "File" from the top left corner and then from the drop-down menu of "Mailbox Settings" click on "Mailbox Cleanup". You can click the "View Mailbox Size" to review the storage size of your different sections in the mailbox. You can also search specifically based on days or size and then individually delete them. Lastly, you can click "Empty" to empty your deleted items folder.
8.Quick Access Toolbar
At the top left corner, you will see the quick access toolbar with two defaults, "Send/Receive All Folders" and "Undo". Next to the "Undo" icon, you can see the icon for adding customize quick access toolbar. Click on it and you can now enable different options that you want to show up in the quick access toolbar. You can also see more options by clicking on "More Commands" and picking the options you want to add.
9.Insert Calendar to an Email
You can easily insert your calendar into an email to let the concerned person know about your schedules and other details. To do that, while writing a new email, go to the "Insert" tab and click on "Calendar". In the pop-up window, select the calendar you want to share and the date range. Afterward, present what you want to show, such as "Availability only", "Limited details", and "Full details". So, finalize the settings as per your choice and click the "OK" button. This way, the calendar is added to the email and you can now easily send it to the concerned person.
Outlook calendars can be shared with anyone you want. To do that, go to Office.com and login into your account. Go to the Outlook web app and then go to the calendar window. Now click on the horizontal ellipses on any one of the calendars you want to share and then click "Sharing and permissions". Now enter the email address of that person and then set up how much details that person can view. Once done, click on the "Share" button. This way, your calendar is shared with the concerned person and he/she will receive an email that provides the link to access your shared calendar. To end the shared calendar, you can go to the same "Sharing and permissions" section and click the delete icon next to that person's email.
Outlook has hidden the developer menu by default, but you can easily enable it to enhance your Outlook usage experience. To do that, go to "File" and click on "Options". Now go to the "Customize Ribbon" tab and scroll down the right side. Once you see the "Developer" checkbox, tick it and click "OK". Now you will see that the Developer ribbon is added to your Outlook menu bar. Inside the "Developer" section, you get access to create macros, COM add-ins, and do other functionalities.
If you are part of an organization that has given you access to a Microsoft 365 corporate account, then probably you will be using the global address list. If it has not been synced properly, you can easily download addresses from Outlook. Go to the "Send / Receive" tab, click "Send/Receive Groups", and then click "Download Address Book". A prompt will appear, where you can untick the checkbox if you want to download a fresh list and then select the address book you want to download. Afterward, click "OK". It will start re-syncing the contacts and adds up all the contacts that you might have missed.
Quick Parts is a feature in Outlook that enables you to store the most used texts and use them later in your messages to remain time-efficient. To add texts to quick parts, create a new email, and write the text you want to save. Select the whole text, go to the "Insert" tab, click on "Quick Parts", and then click "Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery". Now give this text a name, allot the category, fill out other settings, and click "OK". To use it in any message, go to the same "Quick Parts" section and there you will see your saved text. Simply click it to add it to the message. You can also edit the texts stored in quick parts by right-clicking and then editing them.
14.Export Data to File
If you want to do data backups or transfer data to other folders, Outlook provides the feature to export data to file. To do that, go to "File" from the top left corner, click "Open & Export", and then click the "Import/Export" option. Now choose "Export to a File" and click "Next". There you will find two file types to choose from, i.e., "Comma Separated Values" and "Outlook Data File (.pst)". The "Comma Separated Values" is a file type in which the data is exported in text format that is easy to read. The "Outlook Data File" is a special outlook file format that stores all email messages, calendar entries, etc. So, let's choose the Outlook file format type and click "Next". Now choose the folders you want to export or you can click on the email to export all the folders. You can also tick the checkbox "Include subfolders" if you want. You can also see the "Filter" option that helps to filter out specific data. Once done, click "Next". Select the PC location where you want to save and click "Finish". This way, you have exported your selected Outlook data.
If you want to know more specific information about any phrase, Outlook has a smart lookup function for it. Select a word/phrase, right-click and then click "Smart Lookup". A separate section will appear on the right side that shows more information about that word/phrase, such as definitions, etc.
There are multiple filtering features that Outlook provides for junk email, but it requires you to have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange server email account. So, if you receive an email that you know is a junk email, you can right-click that email, go to the "Junk" tab, and select one of the options from there. If you click the "Block Sender" option, then that email is added to your "Junk Email" section. You can do the same steps to take any email out of the junk email section. When you right-click any email and go to the "Junk" tab, you will also see "Junk Email Options". This is where you can set the level of junk protection you want, add safe senders/recipients, and similar other details.
17.Offline Mode Fix
At the bottom of Outlook, you often see the status "Connected", which means you are connected to the internet. Sometimes, out of sudden, it displays the status "Working Offline", which is the indicator that you have lost the internet connection. You can easily fix it by going to the "Send / Receive" tab and click the "Work Offline" option. It will connect you back again. But if it still does not connect, then that means your internet has some issues.
18.Out of Office Auto Replies
If you have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange server email account, then Outlook comes with an out-of-office auto-replies functionality. To access that, go to the "File" and click "Automatic Replies". A prompt will appear where you have to set up settings, such as starting and ending date and time, text you want to send, and similar other details. Once done, click "OK".
If you are not an Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange server email account user, then you need to create a template and use the automatic rule process in order to send replies. But the major drawback is that it requires Outlook to be open and running continuously. To use this function, first you have to create a template. So, write a new email, enter your subject, and the text. Afterward, save it as "Outlook template" format on your PC and it will automatically try to save in the Microsoft templates folder. Now go to "File" and click "Manage Rules & Alerts". Click on "New Rule" and then click "Apply rule on messages I receive". Next, it asks the conditions, and if you want to send the reply to all messages, then skip this by clicking "Next". Afterward, tick the checkbox narrating "reply using a specific template" and then click "a specific template". Now select your template from your PC and click "Open". Lastly, click "Next", then click "Finish" and then "OK". The rule is now running and can easily be turned off by going back to the same "Rules and Alerts" section.
Outlook has recently launched the feature of getting add-ins from the web if you have a Microsoft 365 or Exchange server email account. From the "Home" tab, click on the "Get Add-ins" section. It will open a list of add-ins that you can add to your Outlook. It also shows you "Connectors" that you can add. The difference between add-ins and connectors is that add-ins supply data to third-party apps, while connectors extract data from third-party apps. So, search the add-ins and connectors you want and add them to enhance your experience.
20.Change from Address
If your Outlook contains more than one email address, then you can easily switch between them. When you are writing a new email, click the drop-down icon next to "From" and select the email you want to use. You can also set your default email so that it always shows up when you are writing a new email. To do that, go to "File", click on "Account Settings" and then again click on "Account Settings". Here, select the email you want to make default and click "Set as Default".
When you send an email to someone for the first time, you have to write that person's email in the "To" section while writing the email. As it is the first time you used this email, Outlook saves it to auto-complete next time you write any credentials of that email. But if you want to delete an outdated email stored in an auto-complete list, you can click the "X" icon next to the email when Outlook is suggesting it. Or you can delete the whole autocomplete list by going to "File" and clicking "Options". From there, go to the "Mail" tab, scroll down until you see the "Send messages" section. Now click on "Empty Auto-Complete List" and it will empty all the auto-complete stored by Outlook.
22.Add Multiple Time Zones
If you are involved in dealing with people belonging to different time zones, then Outlook allows you to add multiple time zones in your Outlook calendar to enhance your experience. To do that, go to "File" and click "Options". Go to the "Calendar" tab and scroll down until you reach the "Time zones" section. Tick the "Show a second time zone" checkbox, enter the label for the time zone, and set the zone. You can add more time zones if you want. Once done, click "OK". You will see that your calendar is now showing multiple time zones.
Outlook provides a number of keyboard shortcuts, such as:
- "Ctrl" + "1" will open Outlook mail.
- "Ctrl" + "2" will open calendar.
- "Ctrl" + "3" will open contacts.
- "Ctrl" + "4" will open tasks.
- "F3" will open the search field.
- If you can in the calendar section, pressing "Ctrl" + "G" opens a "Go To Date" prompt where you can search for any date and quickly go to that date in the calendar.
- Highlight an email and press "Ctrl" + "U" to mark it unread or press "Ctrl" + "Q" to mark it read.
Similarly, there are many other keyboard shortcuts you can use in Outlook.
24.Mark Deleted Items Read
If you delete an unread email, it leaves it marked unread in the trash. But you can also set up settings to automatically mark messages as read when deleted. To do that, go to "File" and click "Options". Go to the "Mail" tab, scroll down to the end and tick the "Mark messages as read when deleted" checkbox. Afterward, click "OK".
Outlook also provides the feature to read your email aloud. Open any email from your inbox, go to the "Home" tab, and click the "Read Aloud" option. You can even highlight some specific text and ask to read it. It also shows you the menu option where you can change the reading speed and select the voice. If the "Read Aloud" option is not enabled in your Outlook, you can go to "File" and click "Options". Go to the "Ease of Access" tab and tick the "Show Read Aloud" checkbox. Afterward, click "OK".
You can ignore any email conversation by opening an email from your inbox and clicking "Ignore" so that this conversation and all the future messages go to the "Trash". You can also easily recover them from trash, by opening the message in the trash, click "Ignore" again, and then click "Stop Ignoring Conversation".
If you have Microsoft 365 account, then you can easily dictate your message instead of typing. So, when you are writing a new email, click on "Dictate" and start speaking. It will start writing the text at the same time.
28.Save to Desktop
You can save items from Outlook to the desktop so that you can access them later. For example, click any email from your inbox and drag and drop it to the desktop. It will create an icon that contains the email in it. This way, you can now access that email later without even needing an internet connection. You can do the same with your calendar events, contacts, etc.
Outlook allows you to change the subject of the emails you receive. Simply, open the email and start changing the subject line of it. Once done, go to "File" and click "Save".
20.Insert 3D Models
Outlook allows you to make your emails look more graphical by providing you different 3D models that you can insert. When you are writing a new email, go to the "Insert" tab, click on "3D Models" and then click "From Online Sources". From there, select the category and pick the 3D model of your choice. Once it is added to the email, you can change its position and size.
Over time, Outlook has become more and more resourceful and the list of features has expanded significantly. The above 30 tips and tricks of Outlook are proof of the value and convenience it is providing to its users. In the future, we are definitely going to see more top-notch features that will further ease our usage experience.