Organizing Emails: Folders versus Tags

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

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Last week I sent out an email to almost 40,000 readers asking them what they wanted help with. The overwhelming answer was some way of managing and organizing emails.

In this post I look at the two main ways of organizing emails… Folders and Tags. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one so that you can decide which one works best for you.

We will also look at a couple of Outlook addins that you can use for each style of email management if you don’t want to do it all manually.

But before that…

What do we need from any email organization system?

Irrespective of the way we organize our emails, this is what we need.

1. We want to easily see which emails still need our attention.
2. We want to file away emails that we have finished with but need to refer to in the future. Ideally sent and received emails for a project/client etc should be in the same place so you can see them all together.
3. We want to quickly find and retrieve any one filed email or a group of filed emails.
4. We want to do all this without wasting our day shuffling emails around.

Organizing emails either in Folders or with Tags can meet 3 of the above requirements and you can use the addins that we mention below to do it to meet the last requirement.

Let’s look at each of the two methods now…

Method #1: Emails and Folders

The first way of filing that most people use in Outlook is Folders i.e. create folders inside Outlook and then file emails into these folders.

This method works well for most users because most of us are used to folders in the physical world. As a result, this paradigm is easy to understand.

Furthermore, Outlook was designed with folders in mind. It is easy to create folders quickly inside Outlook and then drag and drop emails into them.

Tip: If you have a system of paper folders in the physical world, we recommend that you create a similar folder structure inside Outlook. Having the same structure in both places makes is extremely easy to find emails when you need them.

The problem with folders is that is can be time consuming and error prone to move emails. It is easy to accidentally drop an email into the wrong folder… or to forget to file emails from the Sent Emails folder… and it can be cumbersome to locate folders once you have a lot of folders. Unless…

Automating Folder Filing in Outlook

If you are already using folders (or would like to) for your emails, then we recommend Quick File for Outlook (the PRO version is what most busy professionals choose).

QuickFile adds a few buttons inside Outlook for you. It recommends folders based on your previous actions. You will be able to file up to 90% of your emails to the correct folder at the click of one button.

It also prompts you (with a recommendation) when you send out emails so that sent emails are automatically filed in the correct folder.

There is a handy Search feature so that you can quickly locate any folder simply by typing a few characters from the folder name.

Users have reported to getting back up to 2 hours each week that was previously lost to email.

Try QuickFile for Outlook

Method #2: Tagging Emails

Tagging basically involved tagging (or marking) an email with one or more keywords. The tagged emails can then be moved out of the Inbox to an archive folder.

You can think of tags as being similar to folders… without actually needing to create folders… or you can think of tags as keywords.

You may already have used tags to organize photos (or to organize emails inside Gmail where tags are called labels).

The great thing is that each email can have multiple tags (no more worrying about which folder the email goes into)… and you can easily see all emails with a particular tag when you need to.

Outlook’s built-in search can then be used to find the emails that you have tagged with specific keywords.

The problem with Tags however is that there is no built-in way to do it easily inside Outlook. It is difficult to tag emails and difficult to find them easily later… until now.

Automating Tagging in Outlook

If you like the idea of using Tags to organize your emails inside Outlook, then we recommend that you look at Email Tags for Outlook.

Email Tags for Outlook is a powerful addin that works inside Outlook. It saves time and ensures that emails are tagged correctly by recommending tags (A list of tags is also automatically maintained).

It can automatically move your tagged emails out of your Inbox to an archive folder so that your Inbox only shows you what you still need to work on.

Email Tags can also tag outgoing emails so that they are automatically organized with your received emails.

Best of all it has a powerful search feature to locate your tagged emails later.

Try Email Tags for Outlook

How to choose what works best for YOU!

It depends on that nature of your work!

If you are already used to Tags then tagging emails should work well for you, particularly when used with Email Tags for Outlook.

Other people may find Folders easier because it mirrors the concept of folders in the paper world that we have all grown used to.

In our experience Folders work particularly well for people who work with well-defined projects.

We already have thousands of Lawyers, Engineers, Architects etc. using QuickFile for Outlook to save hours of billable time each month that was previously lost managing Outlook email folders.

We hope this post helps you make the right choice to have a more organized and productive Outlook.

 

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Make Outlook search your Inbox Faster

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Here’s a little tweak that I did to Outlook Search (in Outlook 2013) to make it work faster for me.

What is Outlook Search

Outlook displays a Search box at the top of your emails. Simply click in the search and type the words that you are looking for.

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In Outlook 2013, you can also change where the Search is done (current folder, current mailbox, all mailboxes etc) directly from the same screen

How to make Outlook Search your Inbox faster

By default Outlook searches for emails in the current folder except if you’re in the Inbox. IF you are searching from the Inbox, Outlook searches for emails in all folders in your current mail box.

The problem with this is that Searching for emails from your Inbox can be slow because it is searching for emails in all folders instead of just the current folder.

You can change where to search each time but this seems to almost hang Outlook if the Search has already started.

Instead you can change Outlooks settings to search only the current folder when you are in the Inbox.

Open Outlook

Click File > Options

Click the Search tab to display Search Options.

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Select Current Folder and click OK

Now when I do a Search from the Inbox the results are almost instant. I can still Search all folders by selecting Current Mailbox or All Mailboxes from the list on the right of my Search box if I want to do a wider search.

Why this works for me

This works for me because I usually go to the folder I am interested in before I do my Search. When I am searching my Inbox, I know that I am looking for an email in my Inbox.

Share your own thoughts on Searching by leaving a comment below.

 

Categories : outlook 2013, Outlook Search Tips Comments ( 0 )

Q: Why CTRL-F is NOT Find in Outlook?(Ans: Bill Gates)

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Have you ever pressed CTRL-F to find something (in Outlook) to discover that it does not work! For some reason CTRL-F does a Forward instead of a Find. Here’s a bit of history as to why this (strange) decision was made and alternative keyboard shortcuts to do a Find in Outlook.

CTRL-F is probably the best and most widely used Keyboard shortcut. Whether you’re using Excel, Word, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Chrome… the list goes on… CTRL-F brings up the Find dialog. Except in Outlook…

Why… Oh Why???
According to The Old New Thing the reason for this strange behaviour is Bill Gates.

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What keyboard shortcuts can you use to Find in Outlook?

Unfortunately there is no way to change how Outlook handles CTRL-F. The two alternatives you can use are F4 or CTRL-SHIFT-F. By the way these shortcuts only seem to work when you have an actual email open (and not from a folder).

Thank you to reader Bruno for the following addition to this tip.

The easiest thing to do is press Ctrl+E, which brings you directly to the Search (= simple Find) function at the top of the Outlook window – and without needing to have an email open.

Hope you found the bit of history interesting. Feel free to rant by leaving a comment below.

Categories : General, Outlook Email Tips, Outlook Search Tips Comments ( 2 )

Outlook Notes Tip: Why (and how) we need to make Notes on Emails in Outlook

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Why (and how) we need to make Notes on Emails in Outlook
 

I was at a friends office yesterday and observed him rummaging through his desk looking for email printouts… on which he had hand-written notes.  We got into a discussion on why we need to make notes on emails at all… and a way of making notes on emails directly in Outlook.

Why do we need to take notes on emails?

It turns out that many conversations are started via email… and then get added to by our own thoughts or phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Adding notes (handwritten or electronic) to emails just makes it easier to refer to the FULL conversation or take action later.

For example:

1. Emails from people outside our own companies are often followed by phone calls… it is convenient to record follow-up notes directly on the email so that all the information is in one place.

2. We often delegate things to other people in our team via email… and then clarify them via phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email makes it easier to check if a delegated task has been fully completed.

3. Similarly we may have work that has been delegated to us via email initially but then followed up by phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email improves our chances of carrying out the delegated tasks fully.

4. Like many people I have a habit of quickly scanning through my emails… if an email relates to something I can do easily, I take action… otherwise I work on it later but… I may have ideas immediately and it is useful to record it with the email… ready for me to use later. This way I don’t lose thoughts or ideas related to an email.

One way of writing notes on emails is to do what my friend used to do… print out the emails… handwrite on them… and hope you can find them later.

The downsides of this method are that we waste a lot of paper… and the emails and notes are difficult to find when we need them

There is an easier way… use Email Notes for Outlook… an Outlook addin that adds a button inside Outlook for you so that you can easily add, view, edit and print notes on emails… all from inside Outlook.

You can learn more about and download a fully functional version of Email Notes for Outlook from our website.

Here are what some existing customers say about Email Notes for Outlook.

I help people with insurance and Email Notes makes it so much easier for me to work. I make the note on the email lead and it makes it so much easier to keep myself organized. Those notes have made a difference in my closing ratio. – Jim Lambert

EmailNotes gives me an immediate way to jot a reminder to myself connected with the e-mail. Absolutely hassle-free installation and use with Outlook. Wonderful utility!! – Pam Rolph

I don’t have to print the email message, hand write a note on it, and then keep track of it on my desk. Eliminates extra desktop paper and the info doesn’t get accidentally put in a job folder lost forever. – Patrick J. O’Leary, Estimator/Project Manager

Hope you find this tip useful.

Let us know what you think about the tip or Email Notes by leaving a comment below.

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How to Tag (Categorize) Emails in Outlook so that it is easier to find them later

By standss · Comments ( 5 ) Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

In the last post I showed you how most Outlook users were changing the subject of the emails to make the email findable later.

I don’t personally change the Subject of emails. Instead I use Email Tags to tag my emails with keywords for searching later.

My suggestion appeared to grab the attention of a lot of Outlook user’s who were till date changing the subject of their email BECAUSE there was no other way of making the emails findable. They requested me to elaborate more on what EmailTag was and how to use it.

I realized there might be others facing the same problem so thought to do a blog post explaining about Email Tags.

There has been a shift away from filing things into folders and to using tags/categories over the last few years. This can be seen in programs such as EverNote, Gmail, Picasa… Here is a simple way that you can apply tagging to your emails in Outlook.

We built Email Tags for Outlook on top of Outlook categories to give you the perfect email tagging (and finding) solution.

Outlook’s built-in categories provide a good start to email tagging because they allow the same email to have more than one category.

Here is how Email Tags makes it even better.

How to tag an Outlook email using Email Tags

Email Tags adds a couple of buttons to your Outlook ribbon/toolbar.

Click Tag It to display the Email Tags screen.

 

Email Tags has built in intelligence to recommend tags to you. Alternatively you can type in a new tag or select a tag from your list of tags directly on that screen.

You can even choose to file the email out of your Inbox with the tag, all in one step.

Email Tags will also prompt you to tag your Sent Emails so that all your emails are organized properly.

Video: How to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders

How to search for emails that you have tagged in Outlook

The main reason for tagging emails is so that they are easy to find later. Finding tagged Outlook emails is easy if you’re a Email Tags user.

Just click the Search button on the Email Tags toolbar to display a full list of your tags.

Click on a Tag (in the list) and Outlook will carry out a Search and display all relevant emails to you.

Watch demo video of Email Tags for Outlook

If you haven’t tried Email Tags yet, you can download a fully functional 30 day trial to see just how easy it is to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders.

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QuickFile for Outlook Add-in Update (Free)

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

I know that it’s only been a few weeks since we released the new version of QuickFile but we’ve had so much great feedback from users that we felt had to be implemented and put out there for you to use right now.

This update is free for all existing registered users of version 5.

Fixes and Features in this upgrade include:

  • Show Sub folders: In previous versions of QuickFile, it was possible to see subfolders of a folder (after searching for it). We’ve put this feature back in Version 5 and done a separate blog post on how to use it.
  • Remove suggestions: Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion. You can do this now by right clicking over the suggestion on the QuickFile screen as shown in this blog post.
  • Significant speed improvement when moving emails: Some users found that QuickFile as a sometimes slow when moving emails. We’ve rewritten the moving code.
  • Bug Fixes: There were a number of small bugs in other screens that have been tidied up.

Click to download the updated version (or a fully functional trial version) of the QuickFile Outlook addon.

Registered Users: Download the trial version and install it on your computer. It will automatically pick up your existing registration and settings.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

Removing Suggestions in QuickFile Version 5

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion (e.g. if you accidentally used a folder).

Step by Step

Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.

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Right click over any folder in the Best section.

Click Remove from Best.

If the suggestion was for this particular contact or conversation, it will be removed from the list of suggestions.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

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Myth: Sorting and Organizing emails makes us more productive

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Thursday, September 19th, 2013

A recent study by the University of California found that email technologies are now so good that filing emails into folders may actually make them harder to find! It also wastes more of your time both filing and finding emails.

I moved my own email organization system to a non-folder based system some time ago. I was a little apprehensive when I first made the move but the results have been well worth it.

How/why do I use an Archive folder?

Although I don’t use project/client based folders for emails anymore, I don’t use my Inbox to hold everything. Instead I have created an Archive folder inside Outlook.

Once I have finished with an email, I either DELETE it or ARCHIVE it. This way my Inbox only contains emails that I still need to work on.

You can Archive your email simply by dragging and dropping it into the Archive folder.

You can also use the categories feature of Outlook to tag your emails with keywords (project names, client names etc) so that they are easier to find.

A large part of my day is spent in Outlook and I use Email Tags for Outlook to automate the archiving and finding process.

Finding Emails in the Archive folder

In the “old” days, folders were used so that we could find emails later. Under this new system, all your old emails are in the one Archive folder.

I find that Outlook’s own built-in Search is now good enough to quickly find emails for me. You can go to the Archive folder and use Outlook’s Search box.

Outlook Archive folder

You will see in the image above that I have also added the Archive folder to Favorites (inside Outlook) to make it even easier for me to jump to that folder when I want to.

As mentioned earlier, I also use Email Tags for Outlook to tag my emails with Project Names etc. Email Tags also has a special search function which makes my emails even more findable( and groupable… I can see all emails in a project as if they were in a folder… without the effort and time of filing in folders)

All you need is Outlook… but Email Tags can save you a lot of time

The archiving system described above works with nothing but what comes built into Outlook. However if you spend a lot of time writing and responding to emails, Email Tags will pay for itself in a few days.

Here’s what one customer said…

” … One of the most useful software applications we own … No more lost e-mails, no more trying to figure out which folder I put it in, no time wasted searching for an e-mail.”
– Justin Henderson

You can go here to Download a Fully Functional Trial of Email Tags or View a Short Demo Video.

Improve Outlook Search by Editing the Subject of Received Emails

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

A reader recently asked if it was possible to edit the Subject of Outlook emails. He wanted to put in terms that would make the emails easier to find using Outlook Search later. The short answer is YES.

Here is how to edit the subject:

  • Open Outlook
  • Double-click on the message you want to edit to open in a new window
  • In Outlook 2003 or earlier, click Edit > Edit Message
    In Outlook 2007, on the Message tab go to the Actions group > click Other Actions > Edit Message
    In Outlook 2010/2013, on the Message tab go to the Move group > click Actions > Edit Message

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  • Make the changes to the email subject (and body if required)
  • When done editing, close the email and you will be prompt to keep the changes or not. Click Yes to save the changes.

NOTE: I don’t personally change the Subject of emails. Instead I use Email Tags to tag my emails with keywords for searching later.

We will also be releasing a report in the next few days to give you a much better method of controlling your to-dos from your Inbox. Subscribe to our Outlook Tips Newsletter to get a free copy of the report when it is ready.

How to tag (Categorizing) Outlook email for easier finding

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

There has been a shift away from filing things into folders and to using tags/categories over the last few years. This can be seen in programs such as EverNote, Gmail, Picasa… Here is a simple way that you can apply tagging to your emails in Outlook.

We’ve built Email Tags for Outlook on top of Outlook categories to give you the perfect email tagging (and finding) solution.

Outlook’s built-in categories provide a good start to email tagging because they allow the same email to have more than one category.

Here is how Email Tags makes it even better.

How to tag an Outlook email using Email Tags

Email Tags adds a couple of buttons to your Outlook ribbon/toolbar.

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Click Tag It to display the Email Tags screen.

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Email Tags has built in intelligence to recommend tags to you. Alternatively you can type in a new tag or select a tag from your list of tags directly on that screen.

You can even choose to file the email out of your Inbox with the tag, all in one step.

Email Tags will also prompt you to tag your Sent Emails so that all your emails are organized properly.

Video: How to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders

How to search for emails that you have tagged in Outlook

The main reason for tagging emails is so that they are easy to find later. Finding tagged Outlook emails is easy if you’re a Email Tags user.

Just click the Search button on the Email Tags toolbar to display a full list of your tags.

search tags

Click on a Tag (in the list) and Outlook will carry out a Search and display all relevant emails to you.

Watch demo video of Email Tags for Outlook

If you haven’t tried Email Tags yet, you can download a fully functional 30 day trial to see just how easy it is to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders.

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