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Outlook tips to increase productivity

Outlook is considered one of the most powerful email platforms due to its ability to enable business users to manage emails, contacts, tasks, appointments, and so much more. But most people only use a small percentage of the features available in Outlook, without mastering the shortcuts and advanced features. We highlight some nifty tricks that will help you realize the full potential of Outlook and make the most of your email communications.

Filter emails

We all get bombarded with new emails every day. Finding relevant emails and messages that you really need to re-read can be time-consuming, especially if you have to keep going back to old emails in a huge inbox. That’s where the Filter Email option comes in. With this filter you can instantly sort your mailbox to show only certain types of emails, such as those with attachments and specific time periods. You can also type into the search box to drill down even further in your filtered view.

Write new emails instantly

This shortcut is designed to save you time from switching back and forth between Outlook and other programs. Regardless of what you currently have on your screen, you can create new emails, appointments, meetings, contacts, and tasks easily. Simply right-click on the Outlook icon to open a list containing these direct shortcuts.

Assign categories

If you receive a large number of emails every day, it certainly helps to create categories and assign emails to their corresponding groups. Outlook allows you to create color-coded categories such as green for Done, yellow for Pending, orange for Urgent, red for Due, and so on. This way you can quickly identify the status of each email and prioritize your tasks at a glance. To create a new category, right click on the Categories column and select All Categories from the dropdown list.

Create folders

This is one of the most basic and useful email management tips that is often overlooked. You can avoid cluttering your inbox by creating custom folders for specific emails. While there’s no limit to the number of folders you can create, the general rule of thumb is to create a folder for each client or subject. To create custom folders, simply right click on Outlook’s left navigational panel and chooseNew Folder from the dropdown list. Moving the emails from your inbox to a custom folder is as easy as dragging and dropping.

Email templates

If you have to send emails that contain the same basic information that is rarely updated, templates can save you a lot of time. Start by writing a new email message, entering essential information that you need to reuse, and leaving a visible blank space for new information that needs to be changed each time you send the message. Then navigate to the Files tab and choose Save As. From the dialog box, change the file type to Outlook Template (*.oft), and save. Whenever you want to use the template, head over to New Items > More Items > Choose Form… and select the template file that you have saved, then begin customizing it.

Outlook is a great email communication software that is included in the Microsoft Office 365 package. For more information about Office 365 and how it can improve your business’s productivity and bottom line, get in touch with our experts today.

Outlook gets new features

Microsoft’s Outlook has proved to be a robust email and calendar experience on the web, allowing users to stay connected safely, securely and easily. The tech giant is now pushing things even further with a bunch of updates to Outlook in Office 365 that aim to help users become more efficient and better manage their calendar. With that in mind, let’s have a look at all the new features in Office 365’s Outlook.

Cleaner UI

Outlook in Office 365 now features a simplified, cleaner user interface (UI) that aims to help you work more efficiently. A new Action bar is available across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences, for utmost convenience and ease of use. The Action toolbar provides quick access to commands like clearing your inbox, replying to an email or adding an event to your calendar.

The email subject line is larger and more prominent, and messages in the reading pane are now indented for easier reading. More buttons in Calendar allow for simpler navigation and quicker creation of new meetings.

Enhanced inbox control

New tools have been added to help you sort through your email and identify the most important items to tackle first.

  • Pin – you can now pin any message in your inbox to have it highlighted in yellow and kept at the top of your inbox. This keeps important messages handy and prevents them from getting lost in your inbox.
  • Sweep – provides a simple set of actions to manage emails from specific senders, great for managing recurring messages like newsletters and special promotions. You can choose to keep messages from a specific sender for a specified number of days, only keep the most recent message, or delete all messages from the sender.
  • Archive – quickly move messages out of the inbox to a folder of choice with one-click archiving.
  • Undo – undo unintended actions with a single click.
  • Improved single-line view – a preview of the message contents in line with the subject, allowing you to perform common actions in bulk and more quickly.
  • Immersive reading pane – when in single-line view, clicking a message now displays the message in the same window.

Visually engaging emails

Outlook in Office 365 now provides the ability to easily resize images, add custom borders, apply shadow effects, rotate images, and more. Emojis have also been added, so you can express yourself better than ever before. You can also find the people you want to reach more easily; when you place your cursor on the recipient line, Outlook shows a list of the people and distribution groups you most commonly email. The list of recipients is automatically refined as you type, and adapts as the people you email change over time.

Calendar improvements

Calendar now features a five-day weather forecast. Icons next to each day give you a quick look at the forecast, and clicking on one will show a more detailed view. Calendar now supports charms – icons you can choose from to apply as visual cues that help you quickly identify different types of events. For instance, you can add an airplane charm to an upcoming flight, a music note for a piano class, and so on.

You can also create email reminders for any Calendar event and specify the recipient list, include a quick message, and set the day and time you want the email reminder to be sent. Birthday and holiday calendars are also available, and can be either overlaid across your work calendar or viewed separately.

Better mobile browser experience

A number of UI and navigational improvements has been made to enhance the mobile browsing experience, including updates to more closely resemble the UI of Outlook apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Navigation has been improved in order to simplify switching between Mail, Calendar and People, and comes along with more prominent search commands. A better UI allows for the simpler creation of new events and ease of using the scheduling assistant in Calendar, and the Time strip has been updated to show the full week within the calendar. You can now switch between emails without returning to the message list, too.

Looking to learn more about Office 365, its applications and how they can benefit your business? Talk to one of our Office 365 experts; contact us today.

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New features for Outlook Web Apps

Office365_July14_CEarlier this year, Microsoft announced an enhanced document collaboration experience with the Outlook Web App for Office 365 users. With collaboration becoming a vital aspect in most businesses, it’s for a comprehensive view of the added features of Outlook Web App that help simplify your email tasks and boost collaboration.

Side-by-side view of documents and email

When your colleague sends you a document to review, you’ll see the document attached in an email in your Inbox. When you open the attachment, you can now see the contents of that document within the email itself. No more flipping back and forth between windows to get the information you need.

Files supported for viewing in this new feature include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, most types of image files and PDF files. You can perform all of the standard messaging actions right from within this unified view making it easy to review information in the email alongside the attachment itself.

Easy document editing and reply

What do you do when you want to edit the attachment in your email? You download the attachment, make your changes, re-attach the file and send your reply. Now you can say goodbye to all that hassle. With the new side-by-side view, all you have to do is simply click Edit a Copy right above the attachment and message.

When you do this, a draft reply-all message is created for you to store this new edited version of the attachment. Then, a new editable copy of the attachment you received is created and renamed with your name at the end of the filename. This way you can differentiate the new copy of the file from the original one. The new copy of the attachment is live, meaning any changes made are automatically saved. Once you’re done editing, simply type a response in the email and click Send. Types of files supported by Outlook Web App for editing include Word, Excel and PowerPoint files created in Microsoft Office 2007 and above.

Additional enhancements

In addition to the side-by-side view and edit-and-reply enhancements, the attachment user interface has also been updated. Now when you attach files, the overview is bigger and better looking. You can also now download multiple attachments at once in the form of a single zip file, making life a tad easier.

While Outlook Web App’s added features might not be a total game changer, you can be sure that the next time you’re looking to collaborate, you’re able to do so faster and easier. Want to learn more about Office 365 and its apps? Contact us today.