Many of us have a love-hate relationship with Outlook–yes we hate it because sometimes it crashes unexpectedly, or it takes an extra three to ten seconds to do something that we didn't expect. But I believe for the most part many of us do like Outlook and its intuitive nature. Web mail applications just don't feel as rich or fluid as Outlook.
Outlook is likely the first application you open when you get into the office and the last application you close at night (if you close it at all). Here are my top 10 ways to have a better experience with Outlook. I'm going to first share the five fundamentals of having an awesome Outlook experience, then will share more advanced tips in my next post.
Drag and Drop Anything
One of the biggest benefits in Outlook is that you can practically drag and drop any Outlook item from one folder into another. Drag an email into your contacts folder and Outlook will create the contact for you with the first and last names and email address for you. Drag an email into the calendar folder and again, an appointment is created for you with the body of the email entered into the notes of the calendar.
Right Click Anything
If in doubt and don't know what to do next in Outlook, just right click on an Outlook item and the menu that pops up will probably have the feature you want. Right click on the name in an email address and choose Add to Outlook Contact and your contact will be created automatically. Right click on a calendar item and you can print it and take it with you to your next appointment.
Open Multiple Outlook Windows
How many of you would like to have your Inbox, Calendar and Contacts opened all the time? You can by right clicking on the Calendar icon or Calendar folder and choose “Open in New Window” and another folder of Outlook opens. Do the same by right clicking on the Contact icon and “Open in New Window.”
Search for Anything
If you are like me, waiting an extra second to find something is annoying. One of the best features I like about Outlook 2007 is that you can search for things much quicker. The quicker search itself is worth the upgrade if you are still using an version older than Outlook 2007. Just type in any word in the Search box in your Inbox and or any mail folder and Outlook goes right away to find you the right email. You can do the same for Contacts, Calendar or Task items. The search box is on the upper left hand side and will very quickly return your search item. For example, in your Contact folders, just type in New York and all of your Contacts that have New York in their address or notes will show up.
Create Extra Folders of Anything
Many of you already know how to create extra email folders by right clicking on your folder list and choosing New Folder. Did you know you can create other types of folders as well, such as another contact, calendar or task folder? To create another Contact folder, perhaps one only contains personal contacts, just right click on any folder item and choose New Folder. Under “Folder Contains,” choose Contact Items and select where you would like that New Contact Folder to be stored, and the folder will then be visible.
These are the fundamental tips for having a richer Outlook experience. Getting familiar with these features should shave off many more minutes that you can use to respond to your emails. Next time I'll cover more advanced features that might be able to help you reduce the amount of email in your inbox.
James Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, the makers of Prophet, the easy CRM software for Outlook. James is a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of three successful companies, and an active investor and supporter of entrepreneurship.