Microsoft Outlook: 9 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do
by Edward Mendelson, PC Magazine
E-mail can be such a chore some days, it's no wonder most of us don't play around with its settings or know half the tricks it can perform. Read on for a few of our favorites.
Open Calendar, Contacts, or Task List in a separate window
Tired of clicking on the navigation buttons every time you want to switch between your Inbox and Calendar? Right-click on any of the Navigation buttons and choose Open in a New Window, and you can keep your Calendar or Contacts open in windows of their own. They'll stay open while you deal with messages; simply use Alt-Tab to navigate between the windows.
Display multiple dates in the Calendar
You can display multiple, noncontiguous dates in the Calendar by going to the monthly calendar display in the upper left of the Calendar window and Ctrl-clicking on the dates you want to view. Each date you Ctrl-click will appear as a column in the main Calendar display. You can also display any continuous range of dates by dragging the mouse over a series of dates on the monthly calendar.
Customize the flag and category icons
You probably already use the flag icon in the Inbox message list to remind you of messages that you'll need to look at in the future, or the category icon to help organize your mail. (The flag icon appears at the far right of each entry in Outlook's message list; the category icon is the rounded square just to the left of the flag icon.) You can specify which color flag or which color category will appear by default when you click on those icons. Simply right-click on any flag or category icon, choose Set Quick Click…, and select the category or flag that you want to use as the default.
Use shorthand abbreviations for dates and time
Outlook's Calendar understands both plain English text and terse abbreviations in its Start Time and End Time fields. For example, instead of typing a date, simply type "next Tue" or "next month" and the Calendar will insert the correct date. ("Next month" becomes the date one month from today.) In the time field, you can enter "now" or an abbreviated time like "4p," which Outlook will expand to "4:00 p.m." The same plain text shorthand also works in the Scheduling window, which means that you go to the Appointment Recurrence dialog and enter "next Thursday" as the Start time, and Outlook will specify the right date.
Modify Outlook's menus
Do you want the commands you use most often to appear at the top of Outlook's menus? Just choose Tools | Customize, then the Commands tab, and click Rearrange Commands... In the dialog that opens you can move menu items up and down in the list, delete items you don't use, and add ones that you want. You can also save time by specifying "accelerator keys" that will launch a menu item when you type a single letter while that menu is open. To change or create an accelerator key for a menu item, click Modify Selection in the Rearrange Commands dialog, and insert an ampersand (&) immediately before the letter in the menu item that you've chosen to serve as the accelerator key.
Add holidays to your Outlook calendar
If your company observes religious holidays, or observes the same holidays honored in a head office in another country, you can add those holidays to the Outlook calendar. Use Tools | Options; on the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options…, then click Add Holidays…, and place check marks next to the national or religious holidays you want marked in your calendar.
Insert calendar data into your e-mail
If your e-mail account is on a Microsoft Exchange server and you're writing to someone else who uses the same Exchange server, you can insert data from your calendar into an e-mail. In the message-editing window, go to the Message ribbon (selected by default), choose Calendar from the Include group, and specify the time period and level of detail that you want to include. This option isn't available if your account is on a POP or IMAP server.
Add a contact from an e-mail message
To add the sender of an e-mail message to your Contacts, go to the message itself (not the entry in the message list), right-click on the sender's name, and choose Add to Outlook Contacts.
Get rid of unwanted add-ins
Keep Outlook 2007 sleek and fast by removing add-ins that other software installs with asking your permission. Go to Tools | Trust Center… then click on Add-ins, find the Manage: item at the foot of the window, make sure that COM Add-ins is the current item, and click on Go…. From the COM Add-ins dialog you can disable an item by clearing its check box, or remove it entirely by clicking Remove.