If you work in an office, there’s a good chance that you use Outlook, Microsoft’s email and calendar platform.
Outlook has evolved a lot over the years and remains a favorite of large organizations. But when you’re learning to use it in your first internship or job, there’s a bit of a learning curve. It is pretty different from email servers that are usually geared toward personal use, like Gmail.
Here, we offer a list of four cool Outlook features that you may be missing. Note: the previews provided here are demonstrated on a Mac computer. The features may appear a bit different if you’re using a PC. 😁
If you’re a to-do list type of person (and many of us Go-Getters are!), you’ll love the flagging feature in Outlook.
Also called “Follow Up” in the Outlook menu, this feature allows you to flag certain messages as indicators that there is some sort of responsibility on you for a task now. For instance, if your boss sends you an email asking you to design a new social media graphic for your company’s Facebook page, you could place a flag on that message so that you don’t forget to do it. You can even set deadlines on your flags, like “Tomorrow” or “Next week.”
There are two ways to add flags to your messages. The first is by simply hovering over an email message and selecting the flag icon next to the little trash can and folder icons. This just puts a flag on a message without selecting a deadline. You can click that same icon when the task is done to indicate that you’ve completed it (a check mark should pop up in its place).
The second method is to select the email message and click the drop-down “Follow Up” button in the Outlook ribbon at the top of your inbox. There, you can select a date for completion.
Finally, access all of your flagged items by clicking the clipboard icon at the bottom of your inbox sidebar on the left of your screen.
Trying to organize a meeting with someone or check their availability? Outlook’s scheduling assistant feature can help.
Create a new meeting by dropping down on the “New Items” button on the left side of the Outlook ribbon. Enter the person’s name in the “To” field.
Then – and here is where the magic happens – click the “Scheduling” button on the ribbon.
You will now see a window that lists your availability and the availability of the person you want to meet with. Scroll horizontally to move through the calendar. This method can be done with more than one attendee, too.
Tip: You can follow this same method to find available meeting rooms as well!
Out-of-office automatic replies
Taking some time off of work? Good for you! Just make sure that your coworkers know by setting up an out-of-office automatic reply to your emails.
Knowing how to set up an out-of-office email is corporate email etiquette 101. In Outlook, it’s very easy to do. Just click on the “Tools” tab of the Outlook ribbon at the top of your inbox and click the “Out-of-Office” button.
In the out-of-office dialogue box, check the box at the top that says “Send automatic replies for [your email address.”
Then, fill out the field with your out-of-office message. Depending on the formality of your organization, something like the following is usually appropriate:
Next, select the time frame during which you want to send automatic replies. We suggest doing so from the start of working hours on the day you’ll be gone to the end of the working hours the day before you get back. Click “OK,” and you’re done!
What if all the emails from your boss could land in one high-priority folder so that no assignments get lost in the shuffle of your inbox? Or what if all the updates from that professional development organization could automatically be sent to a separate folder so that you can comb through them when you have the time?
Outlook allows you to create rules for certain senders. It’s an awesome way to keep your inbox organized and make sure that you don’t accidentally overlook an important message.
Start by creating a folder within your inbox. Let’s use the second example and assume that you want to create a separate space for all your professional development subscriptions to automatically be sent.
To create a rule, go to the “Home” tab at the top of the Outlook ribbon and click the drop-down button that says “Rules,” then select “Create Rule.”
In the Create Rule dialogue box, toggle the different options to decides which sender the rule will apply to, and where the emails from that sender will go. After you click “OK,” Outlook will automatically follow that rule unless you change the settings.
What email or Outlook advice do you have for young professionals? Let us know in the comments!