Most people who use e-mail use Outlook, but most people do not use it to manage
their time and help themselves be more effective. This month, we will offer
some tips on using Outlook more effectively. (Unfortunately, the space limitations
of the Bulletin do not allow me to show Outlook screens in this article.
To see step by step instructions for all of the following tips, please go to LOMA
Articles. Go to “Tech Stuff” and click on “Improving
Most of what I know about using Outlook I have learned by
using the (drum roll, please) “Answer Wizard” or “Table of
Contents”; you can get to both by clicking on the “Help” button.
The “Answer Wizard” allows you to ask a question and it will take
you to a topic. The “Table of Contents” is a listing of various
topics and subjects; try this if you are not sure how to do something.
Adding E-mails to Your Address Book
It is very easy to automatically add an e-mail address from
an e-mail that you receive to your address book. This will allow you to have
easy access to all e-mails.
To add an e-mail address, open the message of the e-mail
address you want to save and right-click on the e-mail address in the “From” line.
A box will pop up and you will click on “Add to Contacts”. It will
then go directly to your list of contacts and put in the e-mail address. (For
details on how to alphabetize your contacts by last name, please go to this
article on the MSBA website.)
Customize Your Outlook Start Screen
When most people start their e-mail or log into Outlook they
simply get a list of all their e-mail messages. It is possible to customize
the opening screen to include your calendar and task list as well as your folders
and information about new e-mail messages. Since I use my Outlook calendar
and tasks, this is extremely helpful. I also sync it with my Palm Pilot so
that I have all of my tasks listed in chronological order.
To change your screen, click on “View”, “Current
View”, “Outlook Today”. It will allow you to choose which
folders to see, how many days in the calendar you want to see, how tasks could
be listed and the number of columns. I find it to be very helpful in starting
Places to Put Your E-Stuff
If you have not set up folders in your mailbox, you should
start using them to help you manage your e-mails. To set up a folder, click
“New Folder”. A box will pop up and you will give it a name. You
will then decide where you want it to be located. It can be a main folder in
your inbox or it can be a subfolder of an already-existing folder. Once you
decide on a location for the new folder, click on “OK”.
a folder has a + sign, it means it has subfolders. If a folder is in
bold, it means that there are unread messages, and the number in parentheses
indicates the number of unread messages. This can be extremely helpful if
some of your e-mail messages are filtered directly to some of your folders,
as you can see which ones have new and unread messages.
your mail. Although it is not very easy, it is possible to filter some
of your e-mails directly to specific folders, or even directly to your delete
folder. This will only work, however, when you can define a specific address
or keywords. It is not a perfect solution to the problem with spam, but it
can be helpful in filtering messages from Email Lists or other known senders.
You can also use the filter to send messages with keywords such as Viagra
to the delete folder. Do not include too many words because you may miss
some legitimate messages (this may hold especially true for family law or
criminal law lawyers).
To start the process of filtering your mail, go to “Tools”, “Rules
Wizard”. At the next box, click “New” to create a new rule.
It is best to start with one of the templates that they have created. There
are many choices. Choose the one you want and click on the box. (For details
on filtering mail, please go to this article on the MSBA website at LOMA
Articles - go to “Tech Stuff”
and click on “Improving Your Outlook”.)
that e-mail. Most of us keep too many e-mails thinking that we will need
that information later, but when we need it we cannot find it. However, it
is very easy to find e-mails because you can sort by 1) the person to whom
you sent the message (in the sent folder) 2) the person from whom you received
the message, 3) the date on which the message was received or 4) the subject.
You do this simply by clicking on the headings; it will then sort that category.
When you want to go back to sorting by date, simply click on “Received” again.
I keep a lot of information from Email Lists that I am on,
and being able to sort by “Subject” helps me find information quickly.
from that special person. If you have a client or person whose e-mails
you want to notice immediately upon arrival, you can assign that address
a color so that any e-mail from that person will be in that color when it
arrives. Go to “Tools”, “Organize”. A screen that
says “Ways to Organize Inbox” will pop up. Go to “Using
Colors”. It will ask “Color messages from (name of person or
e-mail) in (color)”. There are many colors from which to choose. This
works best if you only use a few colors. If you use too many colors for various
people, the feature will lose its impact.
people know you are not available. We should already be using our voice
mail to let clients and potential clients know when we are not in the office.
It is also possible to do that with e-mail. Using the “Out of Office
Assistant” is a good idea if 1) you use your office e-mail regularly
to communicate with clients 2) clients expect you to return e-mails and/or
3) you will not be checking your e-mail while you are out of the office.
Go to “Tools”, “Out of Office Assistant”.
A box will pop up and you will be listed as being “currently in the office.” There
is a box in which you can type in your message. This message will be sent to
everyone who sends you an e-mail. You can also create a rule that will forward
your e-mail to another e-mail address. You might want to consider forwarding
some messages to your assistant or to an address where you will be. It is very
Before you leave the office, click on “I am currently
out of the office”
and log off. When you get back to the office, you will see a screen that will
remind you to turn off your message when you first log back into your e-mail.
connecting to a group. You may have a situation in which you want to
send messages to a group of people on a regular basis. Rather than taking
the time to type in each individual address each time, however, you can create
a distribution list. A distribution list is a collection of contacts. It
provides an easy way to send messages to a group of people. I use these all
the time for speakers for conferences and other small groups.
Click on “File”, “New”, “Distribution
List”, or you can also click on the
“Address Book” and then “New Entry”. You then set up
a “New Distribution List”. In the box that pops up, you will be
asked to name the new list, and then you will click on either “Select
Members”, which you will use if you already have the addresses in your “Address
Book”, or “Add New” if the addresses are not currently in
your address book but you want to add them to the list. When you have finished
adding the names, click “Save and Close”.
When you want to send a message to everyone in that group,
simply type in the name of the distribution list and one message will be sent
to everyone. (Please note that when the message is sent, the names of all the
people on the list are included in the TO: line of the message.)
These are just a few tips to help you use Outlook more efficiently
in managing your e-mail. Again, to see step-by-step instructions (with Outlook
screens) on how to perform all of these actions, please go to LOMA
Articles. Go to “Tech Stuff”
and click on “Improving Your Outlook”. If you would like this e-mailed
to you, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and
put “Improving Your Outlook”
in the subject line. This is a PowerPoint presentation, and I will e-mail it
In the coming months, we will pass along other tips on using
other aspects of Outlook.