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.
Here’s a super shot quick and easy to hide or show the ribbon in Outlook. This is a useful tip if you want to make better use of your screen space but still use the buttons on the Ribbon too.
- To hide the Ribbon, simply press CTRL+F1
- To show the Ribbon, press CTRL+F1 again
Do you have your own keyboard shortcuts that you find useful… or tips on making better use of the Ribbon. Let us know by leaving a comment below. Related Posts Keyboard Shortcuts on Ribbons in Outlook 2010 (and 2007) Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook
I’m not a big fan of using keyword shortcuts but with the number of emails I have to deal with and set reminders, I particularly like using this shortcut key to flag or set a reminder on the email.
I find this much easier than either finding the right button on the ribbon or right-clicking on the email.
- Select the email in your inbox (or any other folder)
- Press CTRL+SHIFT+G to display the following screen:
- Add a flag or reminder and click OK.
I hope you find this tip useful.
Do you have your own favorite keyboard shortcut?
Share it with us by leaving a comment below.
For those who are keyboard shortcut fans and also those who are looking to learn the Outlook keyboard shortcuts, you can get a list of the keyboard shortcuts in an earlier post on Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook
Do you have certain phrases or boilerplate text that you use often in emails? Here’s a time saving tip for making Outlook automatically insert those phrases for you into your emails as you type.
What is AutoText?
The easiest way to illustrate what AutoText is is with an example. I have set up an entry in my Outlook for I look forward to hearing from you. As I start typing the phrase, Outlook automatically prompts me to see if I want it to finish the phrase for me.
All I have to do is press Enter if I want the phrase entered. Otherwise I just keep typing whatever I want and the prompt disappears.
Setting Up AutoText entries in Outlook
Setting up your own entries is super easy.
- Type the phrase that you want (in an email).
- Select the text using your mouse.
- Click Insert on the ribbon.
- Click Quick Parts > AutoText.
- Click Save Selection to AutoText Gallery to display the following screen.
- I normally use the default options for AutoText but you may want to change the Name or Category.
- Click OK.
The next time you start typing the phrase, Outlook will offer to complete it for you.
Try it out. An added benefit of this tip… you’re less likely to send out emails with spelling mistakes or correctly spelling but incorrect words (my favourite… I look forward to jeering from you… who put the h next to the j on the keyboard!)
Outlook normally shows a ScreenTips when you hover the mouse pointer over a toolbar button. Here is how you can show or hide the ScreenTips:
In Outlook 2003 and 2007:
1. In the main Outlook window, click Tools > Customize…
2. Click the Options tab. look at the “Other” section at the bottom of the dialog box.
3. Tick the checkbox for “Show ScreenTips on Toolbar“. To hide the ScreenTips, simply untick the checkbox.
4.You can also tick the checkbox for “Show shortcut keys in ScreenTips” if you want to see the shortcuts as well.
5.Click Close to return to the main Outlook window.
In Outlook 2010:
1. In the main Outlook Window, click the File tab > Options…
2. In the General section, look under “User Interface Options“. For ScreenTip style, select “Show feature description in ScreenTips” from the drop-down as shown below.
3. Click Ok to return to the main Outlook window
If you now hover your mouse over one of the button, you will notice a ScreenTip appearing.
The Ribbon was a great addition to Outlook 2007 and carried forward to 2010 however it does take up alot of screen space. With a simple Keyboard shortcut, you can make the Ribbon disappear and appear again.
* To hide the Ribbon, simply press CTRL+F1
* To show the Ribbon, press CTRL+F1 again
When you’re having problems with Outlook you may be told to start Outlook using a specific command line switch (the most common switch is probably the “safe” switch).
To do this:
- Close Outlook
- At the Start menu, Select Run
- Enter Outlook /switch. The screenshot below shows how you enter it, using the /safe switch as an example.
* Then click OK to start Outlook.
Occasionally you’ll need to use the full path to Outlook, then the command line looks like this:
If you are using Outlook 2010:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\OUTLOOK.EXE” /switch
If you are using Outlook 2007:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE” /switch
If you are using Outlook 2003
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\OUTLOOK.EXE” /switch
Before using a command line switch, you need to close Outlook and verify it’s closed in Task Manager’s Processes tab.
Paths that include spaces between words must be enclosed in quotation marks (“) and are case sensitive.
If you use Vista or Windows 7, you can type the command line in the Start Search field on the Start menu or type Run to open the Run dialog. The Windows key+R will also open the Run dialog in Windows XP, Vista, and Win7.
If you want to create desktop shortcuts using a switch, you’ll need the full path, such as to open Outlook to a specific folder:
If you are using Outlook 2010:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\OUTLOOK.EXE” /select outlook:calendar
If you are using Outlook 2007:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE” /select outlook:calendar
If you are using Outlook 2003
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\OUTLOOK.EXE” /select outlook:calendar
Listed below are some of the more useful switches for beginners:
Clears and regenerates reminders.
Restores default views. Use with care as all custom views you created are lost.
Starts Outlook without checking mail at startup.
Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane or Preview pane off (and removes the option from the View menu for Outlook 2002 and older).
Loads the specified profile. If your profile name contains a space, enclose the profile name in quotation marks.
Using the default profile name Outlook uses when you use the wizard to create a profile:
outlook /profile Outlook
Create desktop shortcuts to load a specific profile (such as when two users share the same Windows logon) – use the following command line in the shortcut, replacing my name with your profile name:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.exe” /profile “Sanjay Singh”
Opens the Choose Profile dialog box regardless of the Options setting on the Tools menu.
Starts Outlook using an existing Outlook window, if one exists. Can be used in combination with /explorer or /folder. The Outlook shortcut in the Quick Launch bar uses the /recycle switch.
The following can be useful when troubleshooting problems in Outlook:
Starts Outlook without extensions, Reading Pane, or toolbar customization. Works with all versions.
Starts Outlook with the Reading Pane off. Outlook 2003 only.
Starts Outlook without checking mail at startup. Outlook 2003 only.
Starts Outlook with extensions turned off, but listed in the Add-In Manager. Outlook 2003 only.
Starts Outlook without loading Outcmd.dat (customized toolbars) and *.fav file. Outlook 2003 only.
Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010 have a handy Favorite Folders list that can be a major productivity booster when used properly. It can even be used as a project management tool to remind you of what YOU WANT to work on.
When should you use Favorite Folders and how?
I haven’t really used Favorite Folders until recently. I use QuickFile 4Outlook to manage my emails. Dragging and dropping can be a nuisance when you have many nested folders and QuickFile lets me file both incoming and outgoing emails (Send&File in one step) at the click of a button. It also has a “Find&Goto Folders” button that lets me open any Outlook folder simply by typing a few characters from the name of the folder.
So there was little use for Favorite Folders … or so I thought. I recently updated my productivity tool set to include it. Here’s why …
What is the Favorite Folders List?
Favorite Folders provide users with quick access to mail folders that are used often. They are located at the top of the Navigation Pane on the left side of the Outlook window.
You can add any email folders that you want to this list. The folders physically still stay wherever they were but the Favorite Folders list puts them one click away, and not buried at the end of the folder list.
What Should You Use it For?
Any folders that you use often … but this is what I use it for …
I add my CURRENT PROJECT folders to the Favourite Folders list. This serves two purposes:
- It provides me with quick access to a folder when I need it.
- Looking at the list reminds me of what MY current projects are. This way I don’t get as distracted working on other people’s priorities because they are making the most noise (via email).
In order to keep the list effective, I maintain it by adding new folders when I start new projects and removing folders once projects are completed.
How to Add Folders to the List?
To add a folder to the Favorite Folders:
If you are using Outlook 2003/2007, right-click over the folder and click Add to Favorite Folders. You can also drag folders from the Folder list to the Favorite Folders list.
If you are using Outlook 2010, right-click over the folder and click Show in Favorites
How to Remove Folders to the List?
To remove folders from the Favorite Folders list, right-click the folder and click Remove from Favorite Folders.
Should you use Favorite Folders?
Definitely YES if you have many folders to organize your email.
For me, Favorite Folders is NOT a replacement for a tool such as QuickFile. You wouldn’t want to add too many folders to the Favorite Folders list and it isn’t going to Send&File for you.
However it is a handy (free) tool which is built right into Outlook that can greatly boost your productivity.
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.
Many productivity gurus say that keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time. I don’t use keyboard shortcut too much myself but there are a few that I do find useful. Here’s a list of the main keyboard shortcuts in Outlook.
Let me know what you think is the most useful shortcut by leaving a comment on the blog. My favourite is CTRL-SHIFT-G to add reminders to emails (aside from CTRL-C for copy and CTRL-V for paste).
This list is pretty big… I’ve highlight the ones that I find useful in Red.
|Ctrl-Shift-I||Go to Inbox|
|Ctrl-Shift-O||Go to Outbox|
|Alt-S or Ctrl-Enter||Send|
|Ctrl-R||Reply to a message|
|Ctrl-Shift-R||Reply all to a message|
|Ctrl-F||Forward a message|
|Ctrl-Alt-F||Forward as attachment|
|Ctrl-Alt-J||Mark a message as not junk|
|Ctrl-Shift-I||Display blocked external content (in a message)|
|Ctrl-Shift-S||Post to a folder|
|Ctrl-Shift-N||Apply normal style|
|Ctrl-M or F9||Check for new messages|
|Ctrl-N||Create a new message (when in Mail)|
|Ctrl-Shift-M||Create a new message (from any Outlook view)|
|Ctrl-O||Open a message|
|Ctrl-Shift-G||Display the Flag for Follow-up dialog box|
|Ctrl-Q||Mark a message as read|
|Ctrl-U||Mark a message as unread|
|F4||Find or replace in a open message|
|Shift-F4||Find next in an open message|
|Alt-Enter||Show the properties for the selected item|
|Ctrl-B||Display Send/Receive progress|
|Ctrl-Shift-A||Create a Appointment|
|Ctrl-Shift-C||Create a Contact|
|Ctrl-Shift-L||Create a distribution list|
|Ctrl-Shift-X||Create a fax|
|Ctrl-Shift-F||Create a folder|
|Ctrl-Shift-J||Create a Journal entry|
|Ctrl-Shift-Q||Create a meeting request|
|Ctrl-Shift-M||Create an e-mail message|
|Ctrl-Shift-N||Create a note|
|Ctrl-Shift-H||Create a new Microsoft office document|
|Ctrl-Shift-S||Post to this folder|
|Ctrl-T||Post a reply in this folder|
|Ctrl-Shift-P||Create a search folder|
|Ctrl-Shift-K||Create a Task|
|Ctrl-1||Go to mail|
|Ctrl-2||Go to Calendar|
|Ctrl-3||Go to Contacts|
|Ctrl-4||Go to Task|
|Ctrl-5||Go to notes|
|Ctrl-6||Go to the folder list in the Navigation Pane|
|Ctrl-7||Go to shortcuts|
|Ctrl-.(period)||Go to the next message (when you have a message open|
|Ctrl-,(comma)||Go to the previous message (when you have a message open|
|F6 or Ctrl-Shift-Tab||Move between the Navigation Pane, the main Outlook window, the Reading Pane and the To-Do Bar|
|Tab||Move between the main Outlook window, the smaller panes in the Navigation Pane, the Reading Pane and the sections in the To-Do Bar|
|Arrow Keys||Move around within the Navigation Pane|
|Ctrl-Y||Go to a different folder|
|F3 or Ctrl-E||Go to the Search box|
|Alt-Up arrow or Ctrl-,(comma) or Alt-Page Up||In the Reading Pane, Go to the previous message|
|Alt-Down arrow or Ctrl-.(period) or Alt-Page Down||In the Reading Pane, Go to the next message|
|Left arrow or Right arrow||Collapse or expand a folder in the Navigation Pane|
|Alt-B, Alt-Left arrow||Go back to the previous view in main Outlook window|
|Alt-Right arrow||Go forward to the next view in main Outlook window|
|Ctrl-Shift-W||Select the infobar and, if available, show the menu of commands.|
Don’t forget to let me know your favourite shortcut by leaving a comment.
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