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 clients, 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 some Outlook tips and tricks that you should know to help improve productivity.

1. Outlook Tip 1: Attachments

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.

2. Outlook Tip 2: 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, but it also offers help on the functions using Smart Lookup to research or define the term you entered.

Learn more: How to change Outlook’s open or save attachments folder.

3. Outlook Tip 3: 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.

  • Create the email message
  • Save as an Outlook template under 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’

4. Outlook Tip 4: How to Add Signature in Outlook

Outlook offers customisable email signatures that can be added to all outgoing messages – either automatically, or you can also manually add them to specific emails.

  • From the settings menu (Settings > View all Outlook settings), select Mail > Compose and reply
  • Under ‘Email signature’, type the signature you would like to use and customise using Outlook’s formatting options
    • To have your signature appear on all new email messages, select ‘Automatically include my signature on new messages I compose’
    • To have your signature appear on messages that you either forward or reply to, select ‘Automatically include my signature on messages I forward or reply to’
  • Hit ‘Save’ when you are done

5. Outlook Tip 5: How to Recall An Email in Outlook

Forgot that attachment, or made a typo? Whatever the reason, Outlook has the ability to recall and replace email messages that you’ve sent (provided you are all on Microsoft Exchange and in the same organisation). To recall an email:

  • Select ‘Sent items’ from the navigation pane
  • Select the message you’d like to recall or replace by double-clicking it
  • Select ‘File > Info > Resend or Recall > Recall This Message
  • Select one of the following options from the Recall This Message box:
    • To recall the sent message, select ‘Delete unread copies of this message’
    • To replace the sent message, select ‘Delete unread copies and replace with a new message’
  • Once you have selected the option you would like for recall, select ‘Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient’ to confirm if your message was successfully recalled or replaced
  • Now, click ‘OK’

The Most Important Outlook 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.”

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