11 Jul 2016

Microsoft Outlook tips for the power-user

Most of us use Outlook all day, every day, but few of us do more than scratch the surface of its capabilities. From speaking to our client’s we find that users often struggle with the complexities of needing to review, analyse, prioritise, respond to, organise, and file the large volume of incoming messages they receive. Microsoft itself has plenty of detailed guides that can help you tap into Outlook’s vast feature set, but we’d like to share three of our favourite tips and productivity hacks.


Outlook 2016 has greatly improved the attachment capabilities, giving us a much wider range of features to manage attachments within the tool. Outlook now keeps track of files that you have recently been working on and suggests them to you as attachments, meaning you no longer have to dig through your file explorer.

Not only this though – you can also manage permissions directly from the attachment menu when you are attaching files from OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. You can share them as View only, or give the recipients Edit permissions, which helps them collaborate easily on one copy that everyone works on.

Tell me what you want to do

The latest version of Microsoft Office has brought us a productivity hack that trumps all others. The Tell me what you want to do search box will take you directly to the function you need, without having to navigate through any menus.

Type what you’re looking for in the box at the top of the Ribbon and see results as soon as you start typing. Not only does this feature save you the time you would normally use to look for a specific function, it also offers help on the functions using Smart Lookup to research or define the term you entered.

Create templates for common emails

Templates may well be Outlook’s most underused feature, but they’re a great time-saver for those standard emails that require little or no personalisation, helping you automate and streamline your email usage. For messages like ‘thanks for your enquiry’ or ‘don’t forget to send in your monthly reports’ reminders, you can save the entire message as a template that you can use whenever needed.

Just create the email message then save it as an Outlook template: File > Save As…> Outlook template.

To use the template, from the ‘Home’ ribbon select New Items > More Items > Choose Form… then in the ‘Look In’ drop-down, select ‘User Templates in File System’.

The most important tip of all

There are lots more things you can do with Outlook to reduce your daily stress and work more efficiently, but we think the best tip of all comes from JD Meier, who has this reminder:

“Remember, the key to effective task management isn’t managing your tasks.  It’s actually doing the most important tasks that achieve your goals, at the right time, in an efficient and effective way.”