Quick Steps are a built-in feature of Outlook (since Outlook 2010) that allow you to automate Outlook to do multi-step operations at the click of a button.
Despite being one of the greatest productivity features in Outlook, Quick Steps is probably one of the least used.
In the next few weeks I will show you how you can use Quick Steps to simplify your Outlook. I want to start with an example that I use every day.
I often receive emails from clients that I need to forward to my assistant with some standard text at the top. Normally this would take at least 4 steps:
- Click on Forward
- Type her name in the To field.
- Type my standard text (Please deal with this for me) at the top of the email.
- Click Send.
Quick Steps allows me to do all this simply by clicking one button.
Step-by Step: Creating the Quick-Step
Click Quick-Step on the Home tab of the Outlook ribbon.
Click New Quick Step – Forward To. (Quick Steps can be used to do many other things too which you can explore by clicking on Custom if you wish).
Click the Options button to display the full screen.
Click the Show Options hyperlink.
Type in an easy to remember name for this Quick Step in the Name box.
Type in the email address of the person you wish to send the email to the To box.
Write anything that you want to add to the email in the Text box
Tick the Automatically send checkbox. Leave it unticked if you still want to manually click Send aftet the email is created.
(Optional) You can set a Shortcut key combination to use the Quick Step if you want.
(Optional) You can add some Tooltip text to remind yourself what this Quick Step is meant to do.
Now that your Quick-Step is save, let’s use it.
Step-by Step: Using the Quick-Step
Click on the email that you wish to apply the Quick Step to (in this case the email that I want to forward)
Click Quick Step on the Ribbon and then click on the appropriate Quick Step from the list.
… and That’s it!
Quick Steps are one of the hidden productivity tools in Outlook that can save you a lot of time if used properly. Try it out.
Please share your own ideas for using Quick Steps by leaving a comment.
One of the best improvements in Outlook 2016 is how much easier it is to add attachments to emails.
The designers of Outlook 2016 realised that you will usually want to send a file that you have recently worked on, and have designed this into the latest version of Outlook.
Here’s what you need to do.
Write your email as you normally would.
Click the attach file icon (paper-clip) on the ribbon. You will be presented with a list of the 12 most recent files that you have used in other programs (PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, plain text files etc).
Click on one of those files if appropriate (it usually is for me). Otherwise, click on Browse this PC or Browse Web Location which appear at the bottom of the list to select a different file.
This simple improvement saves me a lot of time every day as I find that 90% of the files that I need to send are there on the Recent Items list for me to pick.
If you have your own tricks for working better with attachments or know of other time-saving improvements in the latest versions of Outlook, let us know by leaving a comment below.
Do you find that Outlook is incorrectly sending legitimate emails to your junk mail folder? Here are a few tips to help your junk mail filter work properly.
These tips are based on the Safe Senders List. The Safe Senders list is basically a list of email addresses (or domains) that you say should NOT be treated as junk.
Change Settings to trust emails in your Contacts list and to trust people who you have sent emails to
The first thing you need to do is to tell Outlook to trust email addresses that are in your Contact list. You can also tell Outlook to add people to your Safe Senders list anytime you send them an email (even if they are not in your contact list)
- Right click over any email in your Inbox.
- Click Junk and then Junk E-mail Options.
- Click on the Safe Senders tab.
- Tick the checkbox to “trust emails from my Contacts”.
- Tick the checkbox to “automatically add people I email to the Safe Senders List”.
Add people who end up in the Junk Mail folder to the Safe Senders List.
You will still find that some legitimate emails may end up in the Junk Emails folders. Here’s what you need to do to add them to the Safe Senders list.
- Go to your Junk Email folder.
- Right click over the email.
- Click Junk and then click Not Junk.
- Make sure that the “Always trust….” checkbox is ticked.
- Click OK.
The senders email address will be added to the Safe Senders list and the email will be moved to your Inbox too.
I hope that the tips in this post help you to not miss out on important emails because they ended up in the Junk Email folder.
If you have your own ideas for managing junk emails, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.
Do you have a great looking signature for your HTML emails but find that it either looks terrible or has missing information on plain text emails? Here’s what you need to do.
When you create a nicely formatted HTML signature in Outlook, it creates its own plain text version of it (for those instances when you send out or reply to plain text emails). The problem is that this automatically created version often does not contain essential information from the HTML version.
In this post, we show you how to create a plain text version of your signature in Outlook. It probably won’t look as great as the HTML version (you can’t don any formatting in plain text) but you can at least ensure that it still contains all the information you want to put in.
(In Outlook) Click File and then Options.
Click on the Mail tab on the list of tabs on the left hand side.
Locate the Signatures button but do NOT click on it yet.
Hold down the CTRL button and click the Signatures button. This will open the Windows folder that contains all the files that are used by Outlook to insert signatures in your emails.
Find the txt version of the signature that you wish to modify. The txt version defines the plaint text version of that signature.
Double-click the file to open it in Notepad. You will find that all formatting and images have been removed. You may also find that links etc are not where you expect them to be.
Edit the file to back the information you want. At the minimum, I recommend you put your name, company name, email address and website. You may also want to put a slogan if one is appropriate for your company.
Testing Your New Signature:
Create a new email and insert the signature.
Click Format Text on the ribbon and click Plain Text.
You will find that the email has been changed to Plain Text but now your signature contains all the information you want.
Thousands of Outlook users use EmailMerge for Outlook to send personalised emails to their customers. Now you can also know exactly who has opened or clicked on an email…and do follow-up merges to them.
The video above shows you exactly how easy it is to send and track your emails… but here’s a quick summary.
Use the Email Merge Wizard as normal. The last step of the Wizard has a tracking section as shown below.
Tick the check box, give this merge a name and click Finish to create and send out your emails.
Viewing Tracking Data
You will be notified immediately if someone or a recipient opens or clicks on a link on your email.
This notification is displayed at the bottom right hand corner of your screen but you can optionally get email notifications that tell you who has opened the email, where and using what device.
You can also view summaries and details of the tracking information on EmailCaddie.com, a website that we have created specially for tracking.
Doing Follow-Up Merges
EmailMerge doesn’t just tell you who has opened or clicked on an email. You can also use the information inside EmailMerge to do follow-up merges. For example:
You can send out additional information only to the people who clicked on a particular link or..
You can send out reminders to the people who have not opened your email.
The video above shows you just how easy this is to do.
If you’re new to EmailMerge, download a 30-day trial today and see why thousands of Outlook users around the world use it daily to communicate with their customers and members.
Is you Inbox full of emails that you don’t want to work on but you don’t want to delete either? Here’s a tip on how you can keep them in your Inbox and remove them at the same time. Confused? Read on.
My general strategy to Get Things Done is to only keep emails in my Inbox that I actually need to work on. However..
There are many emails in my Inbox that I know that I won’t be working on today… or even this week. I don’t want to delete them because I (maybe) will work on them someday.
Here’s a simple thing I do weekly that helps me have a clean Inbox to work from… and still keep those unurgent emails around.
I will show you two ways of doing things… a manual way and an automated way using eemnders for Outlook.
1) The Automated Way
Once a week I do a Weekly Review.
I look at the emails and decide what I will work on this week. Those emails get to stay in my Inbox. The others get moved out.
I use eeminders for Outlook to move emails out of the Inbox. I’ll show you the steps in a minute but basically…
eeminders installs inside Outlook lets me select emails to “defer” or “snooze” to a date and time of my choosing. The selected emails get moved out of your Inbox but then magically reappear on your chosen date and time.
You can use eeminders to snooze your non-urgent emails for a week using the following steps.
Go to your Inbox.
Select the emails that you want to move out (press the CTRL button to select multiple emails if you want).
Right-Click over one of the emails and then click eemind me – 1 Week.
The selected emails will get moved out of your Inbox into another folder called eeminders. A week later they come back into my Inbox.
Why I like this?
- I don’t have to think too hard and the process is FAST. It’s not like I am deleting the emails. It is easy to identify emails that I won’t be working on this week.
- The emails will come back into the Inbox so I WON’T FORGET THEM! Chances are that in next week’s weekly review, I am just going to defer them for another week but that’s OK. At least I won’t forget them.
- In case I run out of things or change my mind, I can always go to the eeminders folder and retrieve an emails that I need to work on.
2) Doing this Manually
(In case you skipped it, please read the Automated Way above first to understand the idea of the Weekly Review)
You could also do this manually by creating a folder and calling it something like Next Week. Then when you do your Weekly Review:
- Go to the Next Week folder and drag any emails that you plan to work on this week into your Inbox.
- Go to your Inbox folder and drag any emails that you do not plan to work on this week to the Next Week Folder.
My own experience (and the experience of many many Outlook users who we work with) is that the manual method requires too much will-power and discipline and after a while we stop doing it.
I have been using eeminders in this way for the last 3 months and my Inbox has been a joy 🙂 to work from.
The majority of the emails that you send will be read on Smart Phones and tablets. That means you could be missing out on important business if your emails are not displaying correctly on mobile devices.
In this post we look at things you MUST do to ensure that your emails are displayed correctly on computers, tablets and most importantly smart phones.
Stats say 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device (Litmus “Email Analytics” -March 2016) and the numbers are expected to increase. In fact it is already up 500% since 2010.
Here are 3 quick and easy things you can do in Outlook to ensure that your emails look right, get read and most importantly get responded to.
- Use a BIGGER font size
Mobile device screens are small and you need to make sure that your text can be read easily. We recommend a minimum font size of 14 pts for body text.
- Use a dark text color (Black) on a light background (White)
Don’t get too creative with your font colors and backgrounds. Dark text on a light background usually works best.
It is readable in most conditions…like in bright sunlight. It is also readable if users have turned down the brightness of their screens to save battery life.
- Don’t use too many images
You can’t assume that your images will be displayed because many mobile operating systems (e.g. Android) turn images off by default.
Users often don’t download images in order to save data.
We recommend that you add images for effect but still write emails that convey your full message even if the images were turned off.
4th (Bonus) Tip: Write what is important at the top of the email
People often use their mobiles for “pruning” their emails before doing the real reading and responding on their computers.
Make sure you make your point quickly or your email could be deleted and never actually re-read on the desktop.
We are relooking at all of our Outlook addins for Business to ensure that they continue to serve you in the new era of mobile devices. Next week, we will be making an announcement for Email Merge for Outlook which thousands of Outlook users are using to send out sales and marketing emails to their customers.
In the meantime, please let us know if you have your own tips on making emails more readable on mobile devices by leaving a comment below.
Studies clearly show that people who do not multi-task can focus for longer periods of time and feel also less stressed. But emails makes it difficult to NOT multi-task, particularly if you get notified each time an email comes in. This post shows you 4 things you need to can do to be more productive with emails without multi-tasking.
Turn OFF email Notifications
Be default Outlook displays a little notification in the bottom right hand corner of your screen every time an email comes in. It may also play a sound or show a little envelope icon in the taskbar.
Unless your work requires real-time notification of emails, we recommend that you turn off ALL email notifications.
Click File and then Options.
Click on the mail tab.
Scroll down to the Mail Arrival section and make sure that all the boxes are un-ticked as shown below.
Have Email Processing Scheduled in Your Calendar
Try and have a fixed time where you go through your Inbox and delete out stuff that doesn’t need to be there, respond to important emails etc.
This is your main email time during the day. Don’t worry… you will still get to see emails again later in the day.
Turn off Outlook when doing non-email related work
Many users turn to emails looking for a distraction when they are at a point in their work that is difficult or requires a decision. They turn to their Inbox hoping to find an excuse to avoid what they really need to work on.
You’re less likely to do this if your Outlook is closed… and even if you do, the time Outlook takes to start up will remind you to go back to your work.
Reward yourself by going to your Inbox when you finish a reasonable chunk of work… or when you finish a particular piece of work
Even if email is a distraction, a lot of real work gets done using it.
I go back to my Inbox roughly around once every one or two hours. This give me my email-fix as well as giving me the opportunity to respond to anything important that may have come up while I was doing other work.
Try these 4 quick tips today. They won’t solve all your email problems but they will put you more in control. You should find you’re getting more work done, feeling less stressed and still getting your emails answered.
Microsoft introduced the Clutter feature for Office 365. In this post, I share how Clutter was designed to declutter your Inbox… my own experience… and what you can use instead.
What is Clutter
Clutter was introduced for Office 365 users at the end of 2014. Microsoft says that Clutter was designed to help you focus on your most important messages in your Inbox.
It uses machine learning to identify lower priority messages and move them out if the Inbox to a new Clutter folder.
How to use Clutter (if you have Office 365)
By default, Clutter is turned off. You need to go to Outlook Web Access (OWA) to turn Clutter on (or off).
I find that Clutter does a pretty good job of identifying which emails are newsletter etc and moving them away to the Clutter folder. My Inbox has less emails and they are mainly the ones that I need to work on.
To be honest, I don’t read (or need to read) most of the emails in the Clutter folder.
However… the problem is that Clutter also gets it wrong!
I have found that it occasionally moves out emails that need my attention… and sometimes those emails need timely responses.
As an example, a few weeks ago I had to get my credit card reissued because it had been used fraudulently. The card in question has several important monthly online payments linked to it… payments that were essential for our business.
The payments for these (obviously) could not be processed because the card had changed. Unfortunately, some of the emails related to the card failing ended up in the Clutter folder.
It was only by coincidence that I looked in the Clutter folder for something else and discovered the payment warnings.
So…if you decide to use Clutter, I recommend checking the clutter folder once a day for any important emails.
Otherwise you can turn it off and try the following
Getting the Benefits of Clutter (without using Clutter)
I think the goal of Clutter is still worth achieving i.e. getting lower priority emails out of your Inbox and to a separate folder which you can read at a time of your choosing…
… and to be honest you probably will find that you don’t choose to read those emails very often. I know I don’t.
You can achieve this by creating a folder (called say Newsletters) and then using Rules to move the relevant emails to the folders automatically.
You can find instructions on using Outlook Rules to Declutter your Inbox here.
The problem with this as that it takes a lot of work to maintain rules.
The automated way: Use the Newsletters feature that is built into QuickFile for Outlook.
Both the Pro and Ultimate versions of QuickFile have a feature that aims to do what Clutter does but leave control in your hands.
If you’re one of the thousands of user of QuickFile for Outlook, this is all your need to do.
Right Click over the email and click Newsletter.
The email will automatically be moved to the Newsletters folder (created by QuickFile inside your Inbox). All future emails for the same newsletter will automatically be moved there.
Now your Inbox will stay clear of these emails but your important emails will still make it through.
Note: QuickFile for Outlook works can be used with any type of email account in Outlook including POP3 and Office 365.
If you’re not a user yet, you can download a trial copy of QuickFile for Outlook from here.
This post continues with the theme of Getting and Staying in Control over Your Email and your Inbox. I am going to show you a simple way you can setup your Inbox to show you only what you need to work on this week… with today’s action emails at the top.
This system does NOT require anything extra. All you need is Outlook to get started.
While a lot of productivity gurus advise that we should NOT use our Inboxes as a To Do list, most of us still do. Why?
Because it still is the place where most of our To-Dos arrive. It’s easier to leave them there than to transfer them somewhere else. However …
The Problem with working from your Inbox is…
The emails do not arrive in the order in which you need to work on them.
Having them all in the Inbox at the same time can be overwhelming because you’re presented with too much information … you see everything that you need to work on… without any way of knowing what you need to work on first.
You can solve the problem using ONE folder and 2 New Habits
Assumption: I am assuming that your Inbox only has emails that you still need to work on. Emails that you have finished with have either been deleted or filed out of the Inbox (last week’s post compares advantages of filing emails by folders or tags in Outlook).
Here’s what you can do to have your Inbox show you what you need to work on this week, with the emails that you need to work on today at the very top.
Setting up the One Folder System
- Create a folder under the Inbox called Later
- Drag and drop the emails that you don’t need to work on this week into this folder.
- Flag (using the follow up flag in Outlook) the emails that you want to work on today.
- Sort your Inbox by the flag/follow-up column so that flagged items will now appear at the top.
Why do I keep all emails for the week (instead of the day) in the Inbox?
Because I can get a quick overview of what I need to work on in the near future by simply glancing at the Inbox…plus it makes the system easier to use if I only need to look at unurgent emails once a week.
Habit #1: Daily Review
You will need to do the following each time you get new emails in your Inbox.
Either delete or file emails that no longer need your attention. Once you complete this your Inbox will only have emails that still need your attention.
Move emails that you will not be working on this week into the Later folder.
Flag any emails that you will be working on today (and unflag any emails that you have changed your mind about).
Habit #2: Weekly Review
At the start of every week, go to your Later folder and move any emails that you plan to work on this week back into your Inbox.
That’s you new Clean Inbox but…
Probably the biggest problem with this system is the need to manually move emails back into your Inbox.
It is easy to forget about the emails that have been moved to the Later folder and as a result miss out on opportunities (and annoy customers) because of tasks being left undone.
You can solve this problem with a simple bit of automation that eliminates Habit #2
eeminders for Outlook addin installs inside Microsoft Outlook and adds a button to the Outlook ribbon for you. Now when you process the emails in your Inbox, you can tell it when you plan to work on an email.
The email will be moved out of the Inbox to the eeminders folder…. and then automatically (magically) returned to the Inbox at the date and time of your choosing.
Don’t worry. Your emails are safely inside your Outlook. You can go to the eeminders folder at any time if you need to “reschedule” an email.
(If you are also looking for a folder based solution for email filing, then we recommend QuickFile Pro for Outlook which has eeminders intergrated in it. Make sure you select the Pro version)
This simple system (ONE FOLDER and 2 HABITS) will unclutter your Inbox and help you get the right things done by removing (currently) unimportant emails that may distract you.
Instead of hundreds of emails, your Inbox will now show you only what you need to work on this week, with the most important emails at the top.
This system does NOT require anything extra. All you need is Outlook.
The only downside is that it requires some discipline in moving emails back to the Inbox again on a weekly basis.
As a result we have also recommended eeminders for Outlook, an addin that can automatically move emails our of your Inbox and then back again on the dates that you plan to work on them.
Eeminders is very reasonably priced and most users will find that it pays for itself within a month at the most.
- Outlook Quick Steps: Forward emails to the RIGHT person at the click of a button in Outlook
- Download the NBA 2016/17 Schedules into Outlook Calendar
- It is easier to send attachments in Outlook 2016
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- How to Stop Legitimate Emails from Ending Up in the Junk Folder
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