Organizing your Outlook Inbox

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1 Organizing your Outlook Inbox Tip 1: Filing system Tip 2: Create and name folders Tip 3: Folder structures Tip 4: Automatically organizing incoming s into folders Tip 5: Using Colors Tip 6: Using Delete Tip 7: Rules Wizard Tip 8: Create Appointments and Tasks from s Tip 9: Save Time with Open New Window Tip 10: Using the Advanced Toolbar in Outlook Tip 11: Using AutoText to Create Repeatable Copy Blocks Tip 12: Customizing Views in the Task Folder Tip 13: Printing a Blank Calendar Tip 14: Creating Follow Up Tasks from s Tip 15: Change the Way Unread Messages are Highlighted Tip 16: Create Attachments in Outlook via Drag & Drop Tip 17: Field Chooser Tip 18: Filling in the due date in a Task Tip 19: Automatically Flag incoming s Tip 20: Organize Tool Tip 1: Filing system: To avoid backup, be sure your inbox is cleared each day. Move to trash, a specific folder or your "To Do" folder, and then empty the trash. If e- mail is older than 90 days in your "To Do" folder - send them off to trash as most likely the information or offer is no longer current. By doing so each day, you keep your inbox clear and your much more organized. What about all these folders? Have as many folders as you need to be organized and call them whatever will intuitively work for you with a glance. This system is different and unique to each and every user - make sure you use terms and a system that works for you. Tip 2: Create and name folders: Create a folder: In Outlook, on the File menu, point to New, and click Folder. (Shortcut: rightclick an existing folder, and then click New Folder.) Type a name for the folder in the Name box. Click OK. Your new folder has been created. In the Folder contains list, click the type of item that the folder will hold. For example, to hold regular messages, click Mail and Post Items. Page 1 of 15

2 In the Select where to place the folder list, click the folder that will contain the one you are creating. You can create any type of folder inside whatever folder you choose. You are not limited by the parent folder's type. For example, you could create a folder for Mail and Post Items inside the folder for a particular contact. Typically, though, you will create a hierarchy of folders of the same type. Click OK. Naming folders: Most of the time, the name for a folder will be a simple choice. If you are creating a folder to store messages about a specific project, you will probably name the folder after the project. However, consistency in choosing folder names makes saved messages easier to find. Using all capital letters when naming important folders makes them stand out. Placing a number followed by an underscore (_) at the beginning of a folder name makes the folder appear first in an alphabetized list of folders. Numbering folders this way also forces the order of the folders when alphabetizing isn't appropriate. Using numbers also provides one more advantage. When you select a folder in the list of folders and start typing, Outlook automatically moves you to the folder matching the first few keys you press (type "proj", for example, and you'll move to a folder named Projects). Press a number key to move directly to a folder that starts with that number. Placing the letter z followed by an underscore (_) forces a folder to appear after all other folders in a list. This is handy for moving lower-priority folders out of the way. Keep in mind, though, that while each of these tips can make folders easier to locate, combining too many different naming techniques can actually confuse you more than help you. Choose the naming techniques that make the most sense for you, and use them consistently. Tip 3: Folder structures: Although the folder structure that you create will be specific to your needs, some basic folder structures can help you create your own system. a) Shallow folder structure: It uses just a few top-level folders to organize messages by broad categories. In each folder, there are subfolders, but try to avoid creating a deeply nested structure. This structure is powerful because of the way that Outlook handles the folder hierarchy. It is much easier to scroll through long alphabetized lists of folders than to dig through the many layers of a deeply nested structure. It is also easier to drag items from the Inbox to storage folders when you don't have to wait for so many levels of folders to open for you. b) Deeply nested structures: Page 2 of 15

3 Some people feel more comfortable with a deeply nested and thoroughly organized structure. You may create additional layers of folders that organize messages by date, sender, phase of a project, type of correspondence, or whatever else you can think of. If you keep your folder names consistent, you may find that this type of structure works better for you. c) Date-based structures: If you tend to keep all messages in your Inbox and don't want to bother with creating an organized folder structure, a date-based structure at least provides a way to keep your Inbox from growing too large. You might create a folder for each year, each quarter, or each month, and then move messages into their respective folders based on the age of the message. d) Contact-based structures: Sometimes used by people who organize messages by name rather than by project, a contact-based structure places all messages associated with a particular name in subfolders in the Contacts folder. Whatever folder structure you choose, the real trick to getting organized in Outlook is making a habit of storing messages in their assigned places as they come in or as soon as you have acted on them. Better yet, you can create automatic rules so that Outlook moves the messages to the right folders for you. (see section 3 for further details) If your Inbox is already full of messages that you dread organizing, don't let it stop you from creating and using a good folder structure. Create a folder and name it something like "Old Messages." Drag all the messages from your Inbox to this folder to give yourself a fresh start. Just make it a habit of properly filing away all the new messages you get. And if you find yourself going to the Old Messages folder to find a message, file the message in your new system while you're at it. You'll be organized before you know it. Page 3 of 15

4 To create the folder, click on File, New, and Folder as shown on the left. Name the folder what you would like. It may be a person's name, a group name, or a common subject. Next, Select the area which you would like the folder to be placed, typically under the Mailbox or Inbox area. You may also create subfolders by right-clicking a folder and selecting New Folder. Page 4 of 15

5 Tip 4: Automatically organizing incoming s into folders: If you have s that are filling up your inbox that you don t need to view right away, you can easily set up rules to move them to another folder. In your Inbox, right click on an that you would like to create a rule for. From the menu select Create Rule. The Create Rule window will open. In the "When I get with all of the selected conditions" box select whether you want the rule applied to all s from the sender, if the contains certain wording, or if it was sent to a particular person. In the "Do the following" box, check "Move to folder". In the Rules and Alerts window, select the mail folder you wish the moved to and click OK. Click OK in the Create Rule window, and your rule is in place. Filters, or Rules as they are called in Outlook, are what allow you to organize your on the download. Yes, as you download your it can go into e- mail folders setup for specific topics or contacts. A side benefit of filters is that if you organize your to go into their own folders on download - your inbox has less that you requested or were expecting leaving only the questionable for you to review. Filters only need be setup once and they are in place until you delete them. You can use them to send certain right to the trash bypassing your inbox all together. Filters and rules can be used to not only send an to a certain folder by virtue of address, company or person's name, they can be configured to find certain words when listed in the SUBJECT: or BODY of an e- mail message so you can send them right to trash on the download or to a specific folder. Back to your inbox... We now have filters in place that organize your on the download so all the you requested and or are expecting, is in their appropriate folders for you to read at your convenience. Now your inbox should only have the orphan with nowhere to go. If you run into an that is from a new mailing list you've subscribed to and plan on getting regular from, stop right there and make a folder and filter to accommodate these future . Set up a filter to look for something specific to that (usually address works best) and moving forward, on the download, those s will go right into their own folder. Do this for any topic or contact you plan to receive from on a regular basis. Tip 5: Using Colors: To open the Organize tool, make sure Inbox is selected in the Folder List, then click on Tools at the top of the screen and select Organize. A window will pop up in the top right hand side of your screen. Page 5 of 15

6 a) You can set up options to have messages from specific senders to appear in different colors in your inbox allowing you to pick them out easily. How quickly you should respond to an message often depends on who sent it and who the message recipients are. For example, if the message is from your manager and you are the sole recipient, more likely than not, you would need to respond to it quickly. On the Tools menu, click Organize to display the Ways to Organize Inbox task pane. Click Using Colors. Click an message in your Inbox, and you will find the name of the sender displayed in the Color messages box. Or, you can type the name in the Color messages box yourself. Select a color from the list. Click Apply Color. b) You can also use colors for s that are only sent to you to differentiate them from s sent to more than yourself. You might also want to know at a glance, without actually opening an message, whether you are the sole recipient or it was sent to a group of people. You can do this by color-coding your messages. You can easily modify your Inbox view to display color-coding by formatting the font color of your e- mail messages. Select a color from the Show messages sent only to me in list. Click Turn on to set the color. To undo, click Turn off. For example, you might set messages from John Doe to red, messages sent only to you might be set to blue, and group messages might be set to black. To undo or select another color, follow the previous steps and reselect your color preferences. Page 6 of 15

7 Tip 6: Using Delete: Read and delete. Read your as time permits and then delete any that doesn't have content worth keeping for future reference. Then, empty your trash daily. Loads of files use a ton of your system's resources. Not keeping copies of you really will never need in the future helps remove the clutter and drain on system resources. Empty your trash daily but before emptying your trash, you want to be sure to take a quick look-see just in case any of your filters inadvertently picked up on some terms that were included in that you possibly didn't want to trash. A quick once-over before deleting your trash will ensure legitimate you do want to see didn't get lost in the shuffle. Tip 7: Rules Wizard: Sometimes staff inadvertently find themselves on a mail list to which they have not subscribed and are unable to remove themselves from it. If you are receiving unsolicited, or junk-mail, you can automatically delete it as soon as it arrives in your mailbox by setting up a Rule within Outlook to accomplish this. The Rules Wizard helps you manage your messages by using rules to automatically perform actions on messages. After you create a rule, Microsoft Outlook applies the rule when messages arrive in your Inbox or when you send a message. For detailed information, you can use the Help files (on menu Page 7 of 15

8 bar, Help/Microsoft Outlook Help, select Index tab, and type in rules_wizard). You can turn on or off the rules you create and change the order in which the rules are applied. You can also run rules manually. When you run rules manually, you can apply them to messages already in your inbox or in another folder. Create a rule based upon a message: Open the message you want to base a rule on. On the Actions menu, click Create Rule. Follow the instructions in the Rules Wizard (screen shots below). Once you have the message open, click on Actions and Create Rule. Page 8 of 15

9 Check the conditions that you want to apply for this rule. Check what actions you want to take. For junk mail you probably just want to delete it. Page 9 of 15

10 If there are any exceptions that you wish to apply to the rule, this is where you would select them. Give the rule a name and check the box next to "Run this rule on messages already in Inbox." Click Finish to complete the rule. Page 10 of 15

11 Tip 8: Create Appointments and Tasks from s: An extremely handy function of Outlook is the ability to create new tasks and appointments from s. Here is how: Left click on the that contains an invite or a to do item. Drag the to the Task of Calendar folder. This automatically creates a new task or appointment with the body of the in the notes field. Fill-out the dates, priorities, etc. for the task or appointment. Save and close. Tip 9: Save Time with Open New Window: Using the right click function and open new window helps you access multiple windows at once. Here s how: Open your inbox in Outlook. Right click on calendar in the Outlook folders. Select Open in New Window from the menu. Try the power of right click for tasks, sent items or Prophet! Tip 10: Using the Advanced Toolbar in Outlook: There are many advantages to having the Outlook Advance Tool bar as part of your permanent tool bar menu. To turn it on, in Outlook, click View > Toolbars > Advanced. Here are some recommended tasks that will save you time: This tool bar changes depending on where you are in Outlook. Learn the icons that are available each Outlook folder you are in. The view box in the Advanced Tool is quite useful. Learn to leverage Outlook in different views. In Calendar and Contact, learning to see contacts from different views is even more critical. Learn to leverage the Field Chooser feature for your different Contact views. Tip 11: Using AutoText to Create Repeatable Copy Blocks: Do you find yourself either re-typing or cutting and pasting the same copy block over and over? Use the Auto Text function of Word in Outlook to create a series of copy blocks that can be quickly inserted into s or word documents. Make sure word is your default editor in Outlook (go Tools > Options > Mail Format). Create in either Word or in a new Outlook the copy block that you want to save and re-use. Use Control A to select all of the copy you want to re- Page 11 of 15

12 use In Word or Outlook go to Insert > Auto Text > New and give the copy block a short, descriptive name that you will remember In a new or Word document, type out the short, descriptive name and an option will come up to insert the auto text. Hit enter and the copy appears. Tip 12: Customizing Views in the Task Folder: The Views feature in Outlook allows you to create custom ways the information in each folder is displayed. Each folder comes with a standard view, but you can customize based on your preferences. Click on the Task folder in Outlook In the Task Toolbar, Click on View >Arrange By>Current View>Customize Current View You can change the font, group by fields or any of a number of views in the standard view. You can also change the default view in tasks to one of the other view types: Table, Timeline, Card, Day/Week/Month or Icon. Try this with Tasks: Click on View>Arrange By>Current View>Define View In the Customize View Organizer pop-up box, select New Create a new view by naming it and selecting Day/Week/Month Select the default settings and click accept You now have your tasks organized by day in a calendar instead of in a table Return to the standard view by clicking on views>current views>simple list Tip 13: Printing a Blank Calendar: Here s one way to use Outlook to print out a blank calendar in the format of your choice: On the File menu, point to New, and then click Folder. Type a name for the folder. In the Folder contains list, click Calendar Items. In the Select where to place the folder list, click Calendar, and then click OK. On the Go menu, click Folder List. In the Folder List, click the new folder you just created. On the File menu, point to Page setup, and then click the print style you want. Select the print style options you want, and then click Print. Tip 14: Creating Follow Up Tasks from s: There are several ways to flag s as follow-up items. You can use rules to move the to a special folder, you can set a flag on the OR you can create a task out of the . Drag the that you want to create a task from to the task folder. Fill-in any time or importance details you d like and you re done. Page 12 of 15

13 Tip 15: Change the Way Unread Messages are Highlighted: By default, Outlook high lights unread messages in your Inbox with a bold font. You can change this to use a color, a bigger font, or even a completely different font. To change the way unread mail is highlighted in Outlook: Select View > Arrange By >Current View > Customize Current View from the menu while you are in your Outlook Inbox. Click on Automatic Formatting. Select Unread Messages. Click on Font... Specify your desired settings. Click OK. Tip 16: Create Attachments in Outlook via Drag & Drop: Usually, when you want to create an with an attachment, you'd start with the in Outlook and then add the attachment. But the other way works, too. To create an attachment via drag-and-drop in Outlook: Open the folder containing the file you want to attach in Windows Explorer. Make sure your Inbox is open in Outlook. Grab the file from Windows Explorer with your mouse and drop it on your open Inbox. Microsoft Outlook automatically starts a new message with the file attached. Tip 17: Field Chooser: If you would like to sort your contacts by specific fields in the contact form, you can utilize the Field Chooser in Outlook. Click on your Outlook Contact Folder. From the View Menu, select Arrange By, Current View, Phone List. Right click on the column header in your Contact List. Select Field Chooser from the menu. Select from the Field Chooser Window the specific field you would like to sort your contacts by. Just click on the field and drag the field to the column header and drop. Click on any of the column headers to sort your contacts. You can sort by state, zip code, country, department and many more. Tip 18: Filling in the due date in a Task: Open up an Outlook Task. Fill in the subject, add notes and attach any files for your reference. Page 13 of 15

14 In the Due Date Field, instead of selecting from the drop down calendar, highlight None and type in 2 weeks or 3 months and push enter. The date that is two weeks from today or 3 months from today will be assigned as the due date for that task. Tip 19: Automatically Flag incoming s: In Outlook you can set up a rule so that specific s are flagged when they come into your inbox. In Outlook Select Tools, Rules and Alerts. Click New Rule Select Start from a blank rule and highlight "Check messages when they arrive" Click Next Under Step 1, select conditions, Check "From people or distribution list" Under Step 2, click on "people or distribution list" and select the name to apply the rule to. Click Next Under Step 3, what do you want to do, select from the list "flag with a colored flag. Under Step 4, click on "a colored flag". Select flag color and click OK Click Next Apply any exceptions Click Finish. Going forward, when you receive s from the contact specified, the will automatically be flagged. Tip 20: Organize Tool: To open the Organize tool, make sure Inbox is selected in the Folder List, then click on Tools at the top of the screen and select Organize. A window similar to the one below will pop up in the top right hand side of your screen. This Organize option allows you to automatically move messages to a different folder depending on the options selected. In the example below, a rule is being created to move all messages from John Doe to a folder called work stuff. Page 14 of 15

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