Last week, we walked you through how to get started quickly with, make the most of, and master every app in Microsoft Office. Maybe you missed one, or want a quick guide to all of them. Well, here you go.
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Microsoft Outlook is the de facto email and calendaring client in most offices -- and it can help manage your tasks and notes as well. Beyond just clicking Send and Receive, there are lots of things you can do to improve your Outlook workflow, such as sharing your calendar and auto-filtering emails.
You can 'Like' posts on Facebook and 'Favourite' Tweets on Twitter, so why not whack that feature onto emails? That's exactly what Microsoft has done with Outlook on the web. The email service is getting a social media treatment with the addition of 'Likes' and 'Mentions'. God help us. Here's the lowdown.
Too many large email attachments weighing down Outlook's PST file and your hard drive, but you don't want to throw out the message with the attachment? Weblog Digital Inspiration details how to separate attachments from email messages in Outlook without deleting the message. It's a simple process, and when you're done the file is no longer attached to the message; you can keep or delete it as you see fit. It's not difficult, but the little two-step process could save you hard drive space and keep Outlook's PST file lighter and snappier—especially if you back it up regularly. Remove Email Attachments In Outlook Without Deleting the Message
Windows only: Microsoft's lesser-known Journal feature can attach transaction details to contacts—which makes it perfect for storing notes about phone calls. When you want to keep careful track of who you called when and what you talked about and decided, the Productivity Portfolio says the Journal's the way to go. Hit the link to get a step-by-step Journal tutorial, or just press Ctrl+Shift+J to get started on a new Journal entry in Outlook now. Microsoft Outlook Journal | Documenting Phone Conversations
When you send out that email request you're waiting to hear back about, you can automatically shuttle it into a "Waiting For" folder with the right outgoing rule. Microsoft Outlook expert Taco Oosterkamp recommends adding a unique and unnoticeable notation at the end of any email you're waiting on (he uses
Windows only: Previously mentioned Microsoft Outlook plug-in Xobni (pronounced "zob-nee") is now available to the public for immediate download. Previously in invite-only beta, Xobni adds email analytics, better contact cards, fast search, threaded conversations, and more to your Outlook inbox. The NY Times explains one way Xobni makes your inbox more of a social network of connected contacts: Xobni recognises that if an executive sends a copy to someone else on each message he or she sends, it might be to an assistant or another colleague. When someone using Xobni searches for that executive in Outlook, the second person is listed as well. Huh-wha, you ask? Here, have a video demonstration of Xobni in action.
Make it seem like you're sending email when you're really playing hooky with Outlook's built-in "defer delivery" rule. Tech blogger Dennis O'Reilly runs down how to set up Outlook to delay sending messages for a certain amount of time (like half an hour) automatically. You can also set individual messages to be sent on certain days at certain times in Outlook—good for scheduling future messages ahead of time. Delay the messages you send from Microsoft Outlook
Blogger Vinod Ponmanadiyil has years of email communication and documents in Microsoft Outlook at work, so keeping backups of his PST file (the file in which Outlook stores all your email) is very important to him. Unfortunately Outlook isn't great about backing up your PST file while Outlook is running, but Vinod has found a simple solution: Set a rule in Outlook to keep a separate copy of your incoming email in a separate PST file on an encrypted, external thumb drive. The encrypted part is optional, but it's a smart move if you want to keep that data secure (check out our guide to encrypting data with TrueCrypt for details on how to set up an encrypted drive). Head to the post for specifics on what seems like a perfect Outlook backup solution. For a different approach, check out previously mentioned Outlook Personal Folders Backup Tool. HOT backup your Outlook data securely and automatically with TrueCrypt
Lifehacker reader and TiddlyWiki enthusiast Fraser has written up a guide that takes the idea of cut-and-paste Outlook Today customising to the next logical (or at least Lifehacker-friendly) conclusion—integrating a TiddlyWiki to-do list and notebook into Outlook. Combine the easy-to-edit power of a personal wiki with the at-a-glance inbox and task information from Outlook, and you've got a powerful start page indeed. For a primer on getting things done with a TiddlyWiki, check out guest-poster Jason Thomas' GTDTiddlyWiki walkthrough. (Original Outlook Today post).
Microsoft Outlook is the company-issued email client at your place of employment, so like it or not, it's up to you to figure out how to manage your inbox, calendar, and task list every day using it. To make things worse, if you're in IT lockdown without administrator rights to your PC, you can't install special add-ons or software to help your cause. Luckily there are install-free ways to customise Outlook, add keyboard shortcuts, and get your inbox down to zero messages painlessly with a few tweaks to your setup.
Your plain vanilla "Outlook Today" screen could be doing a whole lot more for you, especially if you aren't afraid of a little HTML or can get handy with a free page creator. Even if hand-coding's not your thing, the Tech-Recipes blog offers the big blocks of dense code that let you put your inbox, calendar, tasks, and whatever else anywhere you want on a page, leaving room for other stuff you might find useful. Feel free to mess around to your heart's content, because it's also un-doable with less than two clicks. Creating Your Own Outlook Today Page
Windows only: Freeware Microsoft Outlook add-on Newsgator Inbox delivers RSS feeds directly to your Outlook inbox. NewsGator Inbox isn't new, but this latest release is the first time we've featured it. Aside from the Outlook integration, NewsGator Inbox synchronises with all the other NewsGator readers, like its popular FeedDemon and NetNewsWire. Best of all, they're all freeware. NewsGator Inbox is Windows only, requires .NET 2.0. If you've considered making the jump from web- to desktop-based newsreaders, NewsGator Inbox or one of the other NewGator solutions are all excellent choices.
The first message one could consider email was sent more than 30 years ago, and that's probably when people began associating angst and uncertainty with the words "Inbox" and "unread messages." The tools available to read and send emails have advanced considerably since then, but what you actually do with all that chatter, without eating up entire days of work time, is up to you. Luckily, we've covered a wealth of filtering and processing methods and software tweaks that make email less stressful and time-consuming over the years, and a list of our top 10 productive email boosters is after the jump.
Microsoft Outlook has three "risk levels" it can apply to attached files, which determines whether it warns you before downloading, tries its best to block you entirely, or just lets a file be grabbed without comment. If it doesn't know what kind of file is attached, however, it prompts, which can be annoying for workers who regularly pass around certain file types. The gHacks tech blog explains how you can set Outlook to see files of any kind as low-risk, through a registry hack. Details of the hack after the jump, but be sure to back up your registry before marching forward.
Windows only: Never email another Microsoft Office document from Outlook that includes private hidden data again with the SendShield Outlook plug-in. We've all heard the horror stories of revisions, comments and author notes revealing more than the document sender intended, like when a Google employee inadvertently published internal secrets in the notes of a PowerPoint slideshow. The SendShield Outlook plug-in scans office documents you attach to new messages for hidden data and alerts you if there's potentially sensitive info included, listing each item within Outlook's interface. You can even delete the hidden data right within SendShield's list, without modifying the original file, and scan documents attached to incoming messages as well. SendShield is a free download and works with Outlook 2003 and 2007—Windows only, of course. SendShield
Windows only: Have your calendar available on the desktop as well as in the cloud with the Google Calendar Sync desktop tool, freshly released from the big G. Sync your primary calendar on your vanilla or Google Apps account to Outlook automatically at a refresh rate you define. Syncing can be one or two-way, meaning you can add and edit events in Outlook and have them sync to GCal or vice versa automatically. The only catch is that it only works with your primary calendar, not secondary ones. Google Calendar Sync is a free download for Windows only. (Of course, having Outlook helps.) This coupled with Gmail IMAP really makes Outlook a viable GApps client. Google Calendar Sync
If you're a Googlehead but you're in a Microsoft environment at work, you will be happy to know that Google's come up with a synching tool for GCal and Microsoft Outlook. The GCal product manager wrote about the tool on the Google blog today.Google Calendar Synch is a two-way syching tool which lets you add events in either calendar. You can download it here.You can choose 1 way or 2 way synching, and specify how often it should synch (every 10 minutes is the minimum).Once you've set up Google Calendar Synch, you'll be able to access the settings window by double-clicking on the calendar icon in the Windows System Tray.Sounds great. I'm not running Outlook, but if you try it out please let us know how it works for you in comments.