a simple essay


Overview of Microsoft Outlook

Continuing our discussion on Microsoft Office programs, this month we’ll go in depth into the least understood program: Microsoft Outlook. The problem with Outlook is that it’s more then just a simple email reader it’s actually a Personal Information Manager (PIM). As a PIM, Outlooks main function is to store all your personal information (calendar, contacts, email) and make it all easily accessible (online or offline) - it’s a program specially designed for those who like to be very organized. But even if you aren’t overly organized, there are still many tools in Outlook that help you navigate even your email easily.

In the default Outlook configuration (for Outlook 97 - 2002) you’ll likely to see the Outlook bar to the left of an email list, which also happens to be to the top of a preview. And if you’ve only used Outlook for email, this is probably the extent of your Outlook experience - and your list of emails is probably really long. The Outlook bar gives you access to the other features: Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes.


If you click on Calendar, everything to the right of the Outlook bar will change to look like a paper Organizer Calendar. It’ll show the current 5-Day work week with any appointments you’ve made. Appointments show up as blocks during in the day at the time the appointment is. You can add new appointments easily, just click on the “New” button in the toolbar. In the window that pop-ups you can enter information about the appointment, start-time, end-time, place and any description. You can even set a reminder so you won’t forget to go. Click the “Save and Close” button on the toolbar to save the appointment when you’re done. You can also set up reoccurring appointments by pressing the “reoccurrence” button in the Appointment window. You can choose what type of reoccurrence and an end date.

Like I said earlier, Outlook tries to make it easy to find any information stored with in it and one way it accomplishes this is by having many “views”. A View in Outlook is a way of displaying information; there are different views depending on what you want to look at, email items are displayed differently then appointments and contacts. The View menu in Outlook shows you the “views” available for the particular information you are working with at the moment. For the calendar, you can view it on a per day basis or in a 5-Day or 7-Day week or as a Monthly view. These options are visible in the View menu or on the Toolbar when you are in the Calendar. There are also more advanced views that show information in Tables in the “Current View” option of the “View” Menu. Outlook also has many Printable Views for your Calendar. When in the Calendar, try to Print, and the print dialog shows a list of choices - from daily to weekly - of which you can chose to print out your digital calendar to paper.

There are more interactive things that you can do with the calendar, like set meetings with several people and view other’s calendars, but this requires you to have outlook running in a special network mode.


The Contacts portion of outlook functions very much like what its image implies: a Rolodex. It’s nothing more then a fancy digital way of storing all your contacts. The default view for contacts is “Address Cards”. In this view you’ll see all your contacts as cards you would find on a rolodex, with an overview of information (name, address and some phone numbers) that actual contact can store. What makes Contacts efficient is that you can store much more data then the “Address Cards” view shows. A “card” can store 3 mail addresses, 3 email addresses, 19 telephone numbers, and even personal information like anniversary dates. Additionally, if you open a contact, the “Activities” tab will show you all the outlook items which that contact is associated with - including all email communication. This list might take a little time to fill up as Outlook searches through all of its storage every time you open this tab.

Tasks and notes

Both tasks and notes Outlook tools are very simple. “Tasks” is a list of to-do items while notes can be viewed as yellow stickies Notes like the image implies. What make these tools useful is that they are fully integrated with the rest of outlook. You can assign a task to someone (if they have Outlook), or email a task report. So it’s good for managers that like assigning tasks and getting daily status reports.

Sorting your emails

If your inbox is just filled with emails and you’re always trying to find one in the long list what are you going to do? If you’re looking for an email that came in within the past week, you can probably start by changing the view to “Last Seven Days”. This View is available in the “Current View” option in the “View” menu. In this View you’ll only see emails from the last seven days. Don’t worry your other emails haven’t been deleted, they just aren’t shown in this view. If this still gives you a long list, you can always click on the many other Column headings - like “From” or “Subject” - to change the listing order to ascending or descending on that specific column. That will make it easier to search for emails that came from a specific person for example if you sort by “From”, as all the emails are clumped by who sent them.

Another way to search for emails from a specific sender is by using the “By Sender” View. This will group all your emails by who sent them. Instead of seeing emails you’ll see rows of all the senders, to view the emails just click on the “+” button to the left of the sender’s name. If a sender still has a long list of emails, don’t forget you can always change the sorting. To go back to the default View chose the “Messages” View.

Creating Items
Ctrl + Shift + MCreate a new email message
Ctrl + Shift + ACreate a new appointment item
Ctrl + Shift + CCreate a new contact item
Ctrl + Shift + KCreate a new task item
Ctrl + Shift + NCreate a new note item
Ctrl + Shift + HCreate a new office document
Working with Items
Delete or
Ctrl + D
Move item to Deleted Items
Shift + DeletePermanently delete an item
Ctrl + QMark item as read
Ctrl + FForward an Item
Working with Emails
Ctrl + Enter or
Alt + S
Send message
Alt + PMessage options (from an email window)
Ctrl + RReply to sender
Ctrl + Shift + RReply to all
Ctrl + Shift + IView your Inbox
Ctrl + Shift + OView your Outbox
Ctrl + Shift + FLaunch Advanced Find Toolbar
Ctrl + Shift + BOpen address book
Ctrl + Shift + GLaunch flag for follow up dialog

Windows Tips


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