The Reply-to-All button in Outlook can be both dangerous and an enormous time-waster, particularly in larger organizations. In this post we look at when it is OK to Reply All and how you can configure Outlook so that you (and others) make the correct choice between Reply and Reply-to-All.
What is the problem with Reply-All?
- Productivity: It wastes time and important network bandwidth.
Have you ever been part of an email chain in where people start doing Reply-Alls and saying things like “Noted”, “Received” or “Thanks”?
Now imagine this in a big organization where hundreds of users are wasting valuable time looking at those emails.
Sometimes you want to email only the Sender of the email with your thoughts and extra information. Clicking Reply-All can accidentally put everyone in the loop and can lead to embarrassing and possibly expensive mistakes.
When should you use Reply All?
This article from the Huffington Post on Email Etiquette has some scenarios that provide guidance on deciding.
The answer to this is common sense.
Use Reply All only when all recipients NEED to be kept informed. Otherwise just Reply to the people who actually need to be emailed.
The other way to decide is to look at the original email to see if it meant to be a conversation or discussion. If the answer is YES, and you are adding something of value then a Reply-All is appropriate.
When should you NOT use Reply All?
- For a personal comment or conversation with one of the recipients, particularly if you are bad-mouthing one of the other recipients.
- When you want to acknowledge to the original sender that you have received the email with a short.
Is it possible to reduce Reply-Alls in your organization?
Out of the box, Outlook requires users to exercise restraint. Unfortunately this rarely happens. It is too easy to click Reply-All.
We created Reply-Guard for Outlook to assist with this. Reply Guard is a component of our Send Guard for Outlook product that is already used by thousands of companies around the world.
Reply Guard does more than just warn users. It immediately makes it obvious to users exactly who will be receiving the email.
Outlook users BCC emails for two main reasons… sending sales/marketing emails or sending someone a copy of the email without letting the other recipients know. We strongly recommend that you DON’T use the BCC field for either purpose. Why?
- Your sales/marketing emails will probably get caught in SPAM filters: Stuffing the TO/CC/BCC field with email addresses makes your email look like spam and it might be caught by the SPAM filters, which means your recipients might never receive your email about an important announcement/sale/event etc.
- Your sales/marketing email might not get read even if it gets past the spam filter (because it looks too much like a sales email to the recipient)
- If you used BCC to keep a recipient hidden from others, imagine what would happen if the hidden recipient did a reply-to-all! Suddenly the other recipients would be aware that you had been using BCC and depending on the nature of the email conversation, this may be viewed as dishonest or sneaky.
What to do instead of using the BCC field?
Send Personalized Individual emails (Marketing or Sales emails)
Your emails have a better chance of reaching the recipients inbox if it is personalized and addressed to that person.
You can either send the same email to the recipients one at a time (compose a new email and copy paste the content) which would be time consuming… or
You can use an easy mail merge tool like Email Merge for Outlook to send out personalized individual copies of the email to each recipient. Each recipient will get a personalized copy of the email which is addressed only to him/her.
Forward Emails (when you need to hide a recipient from the others)
If you need to send someone a copy of an email without others knowing about it, don’t BCC them on it. Instead send the email out to the “disclosed” list of recipients. Then forward a copy of the Sent email to the “hidden” recipient. Now if the hidden recipient reply’s to the email, the reply will only come to you.
Avoid accidental Reply-To-Alls yourself
If you or others in your organization are dealing with confidential information that you are BCCed on, you might want to also look at Send Guard for Outlook to avoid doing an accident Reply-to-all yourself!
Send Guard has special filters that check emails as you respond to them and as they are sent out.
A special prompt will warn you and ask for confirmation if you reply to an email on which you have been BCCed.
This can avoid the accidental disclosure to other recipients that we referred to earlier.
I hope you find this tip useful.
If you know of other email abuses or ways to avoid email abuses, share it with us by leaving a comment below
Do you have lists in Microsoft Access that you need to send sales or marketing emails to? You can now email merge directly from Outlook using data stored in Microsoft Access.
Mail Merge is the process of taking one letter (or email) and then personalizing and sending it out to many people. Each person gets a separate copy of the email with only their own name on the To field. The email subject and body can also be personalized with their details.
Thousands of users have been using our best selling addin Email Merge PRO for Outlook to send out sales and marketing emails from Outlook using Outlook data or lists saved in Excel spreadsheets.
We have now updated Email Merge PRO so that you can also use data from Microsoft Access databases.
Email Merge gives you an easy step-by-step Wizard that results in individual personalized emails.
If you’re an existing user of Email Merge PRO, you can download the update for free.
If you haven’t tried it yet, download a functional trial of Email Merge PRO from our website.
Here’s a quick tip on how you can save one or more emails outside of Outlook. This is very useful if you want to save your emails on your harddisk in Client folders along with Word files etc.
Go to the folder (inside Outlook) that has the emails.
Select the email you want to export out of Outlook (You can also select multiple emails by holding down the CTRL button on the keyboard and then clicking on the emails).
Click File-Save As.
Enter a filename.
Choose a format from the drop-down.
What format should you use?
The two common formats that you can use are:
Outlook Message Format (msg): This creates a copy of the entire emails outside Outlook for you and has any attachments etc still as part of the email. This only works when you are exporting single emails. You will also need to have Outlook to view the message in the future.
Text Only (txt): This creates a plain text file (all formatting and attachments are removed). This option is also available when you try to export multiple emails… all emails are put in the one text document with header information (date/sender/recipient/Subject) clearly identifying each email.
What about exporting to PDF?
Outlook cannot export directly to PDF format. However if you are using QuickFile for Outlook-Ultimate Edition<http://www.standss.com/quickfile>, you can export all or selected emails from any folder into a PDF file. The PDF file will have a clickable table of contents (list of emails in date order) at the top and will also have links to all attachments.
On the QuickFile section of the Ribbon, click More Actions-Export Emails.
It’s hard to believe that 6 months have already gone by for year 2013… and the next 6 months will pass by even faster.
To ensure that we all continue to be organized and productive for the rest of the year, we decided to share with our readers the 5 essential tips to be organized, productive and safe from embarrassment at work.
If you missed out on any of the following tips earlier, this is your chance to look at them and apply it to your work for the rest of year.
Tip 1: Avoid filing emails in the Outlook Deleted Items folder
It is strange but we found out that a lot of people file their emails in the Deleted items folder (outlook’s rubbish bin).
Yes, the deleted items is referred to as a “folder” in Outlook but it is not for the purpose of filing/storing emails which you would want to refer to later.
We do not store anything in the rubbish bin in the real world to grab it out later right… then why do it in the virtual world.
Tip 2: Easy Email Search Tricks in Outlook
Jumping from folder to folder in Outlook was old-school style of finding emails which wasted a lot of your precious time. Outlook has improved its search over the years so finding emails is now easy particularly if you know some tricks to help you get more accurate search results.
Tip 3: Mark Outlook Emails Read only after you actually read them
Every morning, the first thing we do in Outlook is skim through the new emails in the inbox to see which ones need our immediate attention and which ones can be dealt with later.
But while you click through each email, Outlook marks this emails as “Read” and removes the bold highlight… this makes the emails less visible to you and moves them further down as you continue receiving emails through the day. You could end up losing sales because you forgot to reply to the email, end up with frustrated customers due to lack of response and find an inbox that is stacked up with non-responded emails.
Here is a simple setting in Outlook which lets you set a minimum time that you need to be on an email before it is marked as read (I have set mine to 5 second).
Tip 4: Use Outlook Search Folders to never miss an Important Email from your Boss/Client
How many times have you not responded to an email from your Boss or an important client because the email got buried under other 100’s of emails in your Inbox?
Probably because you clicked on the email and Outlook marked it as Read as discussed in Tip 3.
You can easily solve this by using a feature built directly inside Outlook called Search folders.
Tip 5: Avoid Common Emailing Mistakes that make you look unprofessional and waste precious billable time
Please raise your hands if you are guilty of committing any of the following mistakes:
- Forgot to attach a document to an email message.
- Clicked Reply when you meant Reply-All and wasted precious time re-sending the email to each recipient
- Click Reply-to-All when you meant Reply and disclosed information to unintended recipients.
- Forgot to write a subject.
- Emailed someone using the wrong email address (for those of us with more than one email address).
- Fired off an angry message that you later regretted.
This may seem small errors but if you are running a business, these seemingly “small errors” can make you look unprofessional and waste precious billable time.
To keep you (our readers) organized and productive for the rest of the year, we will share some more popular tips in the next post.
I hope you find this tips useful.
Let us know what are your plans for the second half of the year to have a better Outlook by leaving a comment below.
Do you read the content of your email to yourself while you are actually typing the email?
How many times have you used Outlook to send out emails with correctly spelt but the wrong words in them?
I’m sure this is the same with everyone, as we type the content of our email, we usually read to ourselves what we are typing, but often we say the correct word to ourselves but type the wrong word.
In the earlier post this week, I showed you how you can avoid common spelling mistakes using Outlook’s Autotext.
Here is another great way to avoid spelling mistakes…
Get Outlook itself to READ OUT the email to you!!!
Let’s look at the example we discussed in the earlier post again:
“Our sincere apologize for any inconvenience caused”
The word “apologize” was spelled correctly but was incorrectly used. The correct word was “apologies”.
These mistakes are easy to pick up if you use Outlook’s built-in (but well hidden) feature that will read the email aloud to you.
Windows already has the ability to read text back to you. Here’s how you can add a button inside Outlook to read out selected text to you.
Note: The following tip works in Outlook 2010 and 2013 only.
- Create a new email.
- Right Click on a blank area of the Ribbon
- Click Customize Quick Access Tool Bar
- Choose Commands not in Ribbon in drop down
- Scroll and select Speak
- Click Add
- Click OK
Outlook will add a new button to your Quick Access Tool Bar as shown below.
How to use the button to get Outlook to read the email aloud to you
- Create a new email
- Type some text
- Select the text that you want read out to you.
- Click the new button that was added in the previous steps.
Outlook will read the email out to you.
You may also want to add the “Speak Selected Text” button to your Inbox so that you read emails that you are reading in your Reading Pane.
Go to your Inbox and follow the steps above to add the button.
Finally you can also open an email that you have received and follow the same steps so that you can hear any email that you have received or already sent.
This simple tip has improved the quality of our emails here at Standss… hope it does the same for you.
A friend called me yesterday and asked:
“Where are my signatures in Outlook saved and how do I move them to my new machine”
Surprisingly the Outlook signatures are not saved with the rest of the Outlook data so I’m sure there are others out there who are unable to locate them as well…
After helping my friend and having an awesome lunch (my friends treat for helping him), I thought I should do a quick post on this to help our readers who might be in search for their signatures.
Here’s a super easy way to copy or backup your signatures in Outlook…
Microsoft has built in a hidden way to jump straight to the folder that has your signatures saved.
NOTE: This works in all versions of outlook… from 2000 to 2013, but the instructions below are specifically for Outlook 2010 and 2013
To Backup your Outlook Signatures
- Open Outlook
- Click File > Options and then select the Mail tab from the left pane
- Now hold down the CTRL key and click on the Signatures button. Outlook will open the folder on your computer that contains all your signatures.
Copy all the files and folders in the open folder to your backup device (USB Drive, External Drive, DVD etc)
To Copy backed up Outlook Signatures to your new computer
- Open Outlook on your new computer
- Click File > Options and then select the Mail tab from the left pane
- Hold down the CTRL key and click on the Signatures button.
- Copy the files from your backup device over to the opened folder.
The next time you try and insert a Signature in Outlook, they will all be there.
I hope you find this tip useful.
OPTIONAL RELATED OUTLOOK ADDIN: If you use Signatures as an essential part of your business you may also want to look at our Outlook addin Signature Switch for Outlook.
Feel free to share this post with your friends, family or colleagues who might be searching for their signatures, you might just earn a free lunch or dinner like me…
Like many other email clients, images are turned off by default in Outlook. What does this meant to you if you are sending sales and marketing emails to Outlook users?
First… why are images turned off in Outlook?
- It helps users avoid viewing potentially offensive material (when external content is linked to the message)
- It helps to keep malicious code from damaging the data on your computer.
- It stops spammers from tracking which users actually opened their emails.
You can find more information on why images are turned off in Outlook at this link.
How will recipients see your images?
Most recipients will NOT have the images displayed when they receive your email. Instead they will see a red X.
In order to view your images they will need to MANUALLY right click over the space where the image should be displayed and then click Download Pictures.
Can you make sure that recipients will see the images in the emails you send?
NO! There are settings in Outlook which you can use to display all images, or images from selected recipients but… you cannot control them as the sender.
Each user controls how they want to view emails that they receive by changing their settings BUT…
A study by Jared Pool shows that less than 5% of users have changed any settings at all.
So what should an Email Marketer do?
- Assume that users have not changed their settings… and that they cannot see your images.
- Build a relationship with recipients by sending useful emails so they actually want to read your emails. This may mean sending emails with more text than images to start with.
- Use colors, highlighting and other HTML ideas to format your emails. Don’t just rely on images
- Structure your email with a mixture of text and images so that recipients actually WANT to see your emails.
- TEST the emails by sending them to yourself. Make sure that the view images setting in your Outlook is OFF. Do you see enough in the email to want to view the images?
I hope that this blog post helps you make better use of images in your emails.
Email Merge is already used by thousands of Outlook users around the world to improve deliverability and response rates for sales and marketing emails.
Updated Outlook Reply protection is much more than just a warning prompt (Outlook 2007, 2010 and now Outlook 2013)
We have updated the Reply Guard feature in Send Guard so it fully supports Outlook 2013.
What is Reply Guard and why do users need it even when newer versions of Outlook have built in warnings?
How many times have you accidently done a Reply-All (when you really meant to do reply) and disclosed confidential information to people who should not have received/seen it… or maybe you accidentally did a Reply instead of a Reply-all and missed some people?
Send Guard protects you from accidental Reply-Alls with much more than just a warning prompt.
Whenever you click Reply or Reply-to-All on an email with multiple recipients, the Reply Guard feature in the Outlook addin will display a list of all the original recipients so that you can visually see and change who your reply is going to.
If you’ve accidentally addressed the email to the wrong people, just untick them. If you’ve forgotten to include some people, just tick them.
Reply Guard virtually ELIMINATES any chance of you replying or replying-to-all to the wrong people!
Send Guard for Outlook works with Outlook 2007, 2010 (32 and 64 Bit) and Outlook 2013 (32 and 64 Bit).
The latest version of SendGuard (1.1.4898) now fully supports Outlook 2013’s new Inline Response feature.
This update is FREE for Existing users of SendGuard. Install it over your old version and your registration information will automatically be retrieved.
Do you regularly send out marketing emails, newsletters or family greetings to the same group of people?
If yes, then you can make this quick and easy by creating Email List in Outlook.
You can create Email List for different groups of people for example, you could have an Email List called Family and add the email addresses of all your family members to that group. Similarly you can create list for newsletters etc…
This saves you a lot of time when sending email blast as you are not required to individually type in email addresses… just select the group and Outlook sends a copy of the same email to all contacts.
Here are the steps to create an Email List in Outlook: (Instructions are for Outlook 2013 unless specifically mentioned)
- Open Outlook
- Click the Home tab > click New Items > click More Items > click Contact Group. This will display the blank Contact Group screen as shown below.
- Enter a Name for the group/list
- Click Add Members button on the ribbon. You have the option to select your contacts from your Outlook Contact list, Address Book or add a new contact. Select one of this options from the drop-down list
- Now add your contacts to the group by clicking on the contact and click Members -> button. To select multiple contacts, press the CTRL button on the keyword and click on each contact and then click the Members -> button
- Click OK
- Click Save & Close
This will now save all your contacts to that group. You can repeat the same steps above to create different groups.
When you need to send an email to this group:
- Open a new email
- Click on the To: button
- Select the Group you want to send the email too
- Send the email
The email will be sent to all the contacts in the group.
NOTE: the emails will not be personalized and it will show the email address of every person this email is sent to in the TO: field on the recipient’s side.
So if you are looking for a quick way to send a non-personalized email blast, this works perfectly for you.
However if you are looking for a way to send emails which are personalized and individually addressed to the recipient, you can try out our Email Merge for Outlook addin.
With EmailMerge, you can personalize your emails for example Greetings/Salutation:
When the email is received by the person, he/she will only see THEIR email address in the To: field therefore they are more likely to read and respond to your email.
I hope you find this tip useful.
If you know of other ways to send out email blast from Outlook, share it with our readers by leaving a comment below.
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- Miles Barry on How to Schedule Appointments without Overwhelming Yourself
- standss on Q: Why CTRL-F is NOT Find in Outlook?(Ans: Bill Gates)
- standss on Keep Outlook Emails as Unread until after you actually read them
- robert on Keep Outlook Emails as Unread until after you actually read them
- http://blogs.forbes.com on Should you Forward or Redirect emails?