You can make better use of your time by getting Outlook to automatically highlight important emails by color-coding them for you.
I subscribe to several newsgroups/mailing lists on the Internet. I use Rules to move these emails out my Inbox to read later so that they don’t interrupt my normal work day.
The problem is that one newsgroup in particular has a few hundred emails every day. Most of the topics discussed are of little interest to me.
I’m only interested in emails that have the word Outlook in them.
I’ve setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.
This way I don’t waste my time scanning through hundreds of emails. I am also able to provide better value to other members of the newsgroup by responding to Outlook related postings quickly.
1. Go to the Folder in which the emails are. This can be the Inbox or any other folder.
2. In Outlook 2010, Click View on the Ribbon and then click View Settings.
On all other versions of Outlook, on the menu at the top, Click View-Current View – Customize Current View to display the Customize View screen.
3. In Outlook 2010, Click Conditional Formatting… button
In other versions of Outlook, Click the Automatic Formatting… button.
4. Click the Add Button
5. Enter a name e.g. “Colour Code Outlook Emails”
6. Click the Font button and using the resulting screen to choose how you want emails to be highlighted (I chose the colour Red and Bold). Click OK to return to the previous screen.
7. Click the Condition button to display the Filter screen and enter your criteria and click OK.
In my case I chose;
Search for the word(s): Outlook
In: Subject and message body
8. Click OK 3 times to return to your Folder.
Your Emails are Now Color Coded
Any emails in the folder that meet the criteria you specified will automatically be highlighted. Any new emails will also be highlighted.
You can use this technique whenever you need to highlight an email e.g. highlight all emails from your most important client.
The Reply All button is probably the most misused feature in Outlook. An inappropriate Reply All is the same as SPAM to the recipient. So when should you do a Reply All and when should you restrain yourself to a Reply only?
When is it NOT appropriate to do a Reply All?
- When you were BCCed on the email. You were probably BCCed instead of CCed because the sender did not want to let other recipients know that you were also being sent a copy. Doing a Reply All immediately lets the others know!
- When only the original Sender needs to see your reply (e.g. saying Thank You)
- When only a few people need to see your reply (do a reply and add only the recipients you need)
- When you want to tattle, scold, correct or send nasty comments back to the Sender. If it is absolutely necessary for you to do this then a Reply is more appropriate. Otherwise you could easily start a nasty chain of emails which will provide a lot of entertainment for everyone else.
When is it Ok to do a Reply All?
It is OK to do a Reply All only if your reply is necessary to know for the original sender and ALL (or at least the vast majority) of all other people whose email addresses were in the To or CC fields.
(There is the other risk of doing a Reply instead of a Reply All when you needed to keep everyone informed)
Ensuring that you are doing Reply Alls only when you need to…
Our SendGuard for Outlook addin has several prompts built into it to ensure that you follow the rules of using Reply Alls.
Any time you do a Reply All on an email, the following prompt will be displayed:
If you do a Reply All to an email on which you were BCCed, the following prompt will be displayed:
The above two prompts greatly reduce the chances of inappropriate Reply Alls.
In addition, if you do a Reply on an email with multiple recipients it will display the following prompt:
This will ensure that you keep all recipients in the loop (if you need to).
SendGuard for Outlook works inside Outlook and has many other features to ensure that your emails get sent out to the right people with all the right information.
Search in Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 is awesome. Depending on the way you work, this little tweak will save you a little time every time you need to do a search for emails.
Outlook (by default) searches emails in the current folder you are in. The Search results also come up with a link at the bottom to “Try Searching all Mail Items”. I find myself ALWAYS clicking on the Search All link as I rarely bother to move to the relevant folder first.
Here’s a quick setting changing that will force Outlook to search all mail items by default.
In Outlook 2010/2013, click File-Options and then click the Search tab to display Search Options.
Click All folders and then click OK
In Outlook 2007, click Tools-Options and then click the Search Options button on the Preferences tab to display the Search Options box.
Click All folders and then click OK.
It’s a small tweak but it could save you a lot of clicks.
Do you have any other Search tricks that you find useful. Share it with other readers by leaving a comment on the blog.
Fixing Search Problems in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
Are spam ratings added by anti-spam software stopping your emails from reaching users inboxes or from getting read.
These days most users have several layers of spam protection even if they don’t know it. Most ISPs now have spam software that changes the subject line of emails to indicate if the email may be spam.
It usually adds something like SPAM-LOW, SPAM-MED or SPAM-HIGH to the email subject as shown below.
When you respond to an email with a marking similar to above, the subject of your email will obviously have the SPAM-LOW (etc) in it as well.
We recommend that you FIX THE SUBJECT LINE BY DELETING THE SPAM MARKINGS from the email before you click Send.
This makes it less likely that your email will be mistaken as SPAM by the recipient (or their anti-spam software)
This is easy to do manually but it is also easy to forget.
The rest of this post is for SendGuard for Outlook users, who can configure Outlook to automatically check and remove these spam markings for them.
If you are not a user of SendGuard (yet), you can download a fully functional trial version of SendGuard for Outlook from our website.
SendGuard Users: Configure Outlook to automatically remove spam markings
In Outlook 2010, click Addins on the ribbon, click Standss-SendGuard-Settings.
In Outlook 2007, 2003, 2002 or 2000: Click Tools-Standss-SendGuard-Settings.
Click the Subject Guard tab.
Tick the box labelled “Clear SPAM Marks added in Subject by Anti-Spam software”.
You can also use this screen to maintain the list of words you wanted cleared out from the Subject lines of emails you send out.
SendGuard for Outlook will not automatically keep your Subject Lines clean of any spam markings. SendGuard will not change your received emails so you can still see what your anti-spam software has classed as potential spam.
(Send Guard does several other checks on outgoing emails to ensure that you are sending emails that are complete and more likely to get through to your recipient)
Earlier today I had to email one of my team members a link to a file that I had put on a network drive. Here’s a way to email CLICKABLE links to files and folder (even if the name or path has spaces in it).
We often share files with other users in our company by putting them in shared folders either on our computer or on the server. We then email the relevant people with a link to the file e.g.
I have put the latest copy of the software on the server at the following location:
If the file name and path have no spaces in it then you end up with a link that the recipient can click on to open the file.
The problem is that since Windows allows spaces in file names, many (most) folder names and file names now contain spaces. If your path/folder name has spaces in it, then the link in not correct e.g. in the same example link above if there was a space in the word SoftwarePrograms:
Here’s an easy trick to get around it. Start your link with a “<” and finish with a “>” i.e if you type
Outlook will change it to:
The Search functionality in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 is great… unless it is not working. Most of the time rebuilding the search index clears up the problems. Unfortunately it isn’t obvious, at least not from inside Outlook, how you can do this.
Search in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 uses Windows Search Indexes (i.e. it’s a Windows feature and not an Outlook only feature). If Windows Search Indexes are not built properly or corrupt you may find that Outlook Search does not work properly.
Rebuilding the Search indexes is easy if you know where to look:
How to Rebuild the Search Indexes
Warning: This process takes a long time. I suggest you run it just before you leave the office for the day (or just before you go to sleep at night):
Bring up the Indexing Options screen. (Instructions below depending on your version of Windows)
Windows 7/Vista: Click the Windows Start button and type “index” in the Search box. Indexing Options should appear under programs. Click Indexing Options to bring up the Indexing Options screen.
Click the Advanced button on the Indexing Option screen.
Click the Rebuild button.
Your current Search Indexes will be deleted and rebuilt. Once the rebuilding process is complete (I told you that this will take some time so hopefully you’re doing this just before you leave the office or go to bed) you should find Search working perfectly again.
Finding contacts quickly (for a phone number etc) was easy in Outlook 2007 (and below) thanks to the Find Contact drop-down on the toolbar. The toolbar has been replaced by the ribbon in Outlook 2010 but you can still have quick access to the Find Contact dropdown… thanks to the Quick Access toolbar.
What is the Quick Access Toolbar…. It is a row of small icons that are placed on the title bar… basically the upper left hand corner of your Outlook window. The icons will be displayed irrespective of which tab of the Ribbon you are on… and you can add your own icons/commands to it.
To add “Find a Contact” to the toolbar:
- Click on the downward pointing arrow on the right of the Quick Access toolbar (circled in red above)
- Make sure that “Find a Contact” is ticked.
Once you have “Find a Contact” ticked, your Quick Access toolbar will look like:
To find a contact, simply click on the dropdown, type the contacts name (any part of the name will do… you don’t need the full name) and click Enter on the keyboard.
Did you find this tip useful or do you have a better way of finding contacts quickly in Outlook 2010.
Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog.
I was sitting at a friend’s office on Saturday when he told me that he was having problems with emails from a particular person. They had send (and resent) emails to him several times but he did not receive them… and they weren’t in his spam folder… and the sender was not receiving any bounce back or undeliverable message?
Where were the emails disappearing to? How many other emails was he losing that he did not know about?
The answer… they were getting caught by the SPAM filter setup by his ISP. The emails were getting moved by his ISP to a special online Junk Mails folder… so they were never making it down from the Internet to his computer.
The solution… use your webmail client (Your ISP should have given you a URL) to login to your mail online and then check your online Junk Emails folder.
I know I wrote about this topic last week (Why Outlook users NEED to check emails using their ISPs webmail client too) but in light of what James discovered on his webmail, I thought it was worth writing about again.
(James has more than 200 emails in his online Spam Folder with a reasonable number of them actual work emails)
Do you find that online spam filters block too many of your emails? Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog.
Do you send out emails from your smartphone with something like “Sent from my Iphone/Blackberry” written at the end of it? You MAY be annoying recipients… here’s why and a much better alternative.
Why do people get annoyed (I disagree with ALL the reasons)
A recent survey I read (I haven’t been able to relocate a link to the original article) on the web found that many people find the “Sent from my Smartphone” signature annoying. According to the survey, respondents felt that it implied that:
- The sender could be showing off because the particular type of phone may be a status symbol (I have to admit… I like showing off my IPhone… I just wish the IPhone 4 hadn’t come out so soon after I bought my IPhone 3GS)
- The sender is too busy to address the recipient properly
- The sender doesn’t know how to change the signature (I read this as saying that I was too stupid to change the signature… again I have to admit I had not even bother to look for this but it was easy enough to find under settings on the Iphone)
I don’t agree with most of the above. It does not bother me when I read “Sent from my Smartphone” at the bottom of emails I receive.
In fact… it tells me that although the person was out of the office, they still thought that I was worth responding to immediately… and that the person has good taste if the email says “Sent from my Iphone”.
A Better Signature for Emails Sent from Iphones
Although I don’t have any problems with the default signature, based on a suggestion in the article I have now changed my signature to read:
Sent from my IPhone. Please excuse the brevity, spelling and punctuation.
I think the above is great… I get to show off my phone… I show respect for the recipient… and they will know why some mistakes may creep through (sometime I don’t notice that my IPhone has changed words that it thinks I have misspelled)
What do you think of the default “Sent from my…” signature? Do you have a better alternative?
Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog.
Here are a few ways to automatically get reminded to work on an email that you have received but do not need/want to work on till some date/time in the future.
Option 1: Flag the email with a reminder
This is an OK option if you don’t mind keeping the email in your Inbox (I’ve got some options later that will even remove the email from your Inbox until you need it).
Right click on the email, click Follow-up and then click Add Reminder.
Enter the relevant information in the screen and click OK.
The problems with this method are:
- The email actually stays in your Inbox which can be a distraction and affect your productivity.
- You can’t add any notes to the original email (unless you are using Email Notes for Outlook)
Option 2: Convert the Email to your Calendar or Task List (drag-and-drop)
Many Outlook users do not realise this but you can convert an email to a Task or Calendar by dragging it to the Task or Calendar folder.
A new Task or Calendar Item will be created and opened with the email content in it. You can set the appropriate date to be reminded.
I prefer to drag-and-drop using the right (instead of left) mouse button. This gives 3 options when I drop the email:
Copy here as Task with Text
Copy here as Task with Attachment
Move here as Task with Attachment
I choose either Copy or Move with Attachment options. This way the new Task has the email attached to it. I can simply double-click the attached email to respond.
Option 3: Use QuickFile for Outlook to remove your emails and have them magically reappear at the correct date and time
In an earlier post, we mentioned how QuickFile for Outlook can be used to DEFER emails. If you are a QuickFile user then this is the nicest option.
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- Quick Steps: Add shortcuts to the Outlook ribbon to file your emails
- Outlook Quick Steps: Forward emails to the RIGHT person at the click of a button in Outlook
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- It is easier to send attachments in Outlook 2016
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