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.
What do you do when you get an email that you know can be better answered by someone else? Chances are you Forward the email. I recently found out about Redirects which are often more appropriate than Forwards. Here’s how to do a redirect and why it may be better than Forward.
When you forward an email to someone, and the person replies, the reply comes back to YOU and not the original sender, so then you’re stuck forwarding it again.
You can avoid being the messenger-in-between by doing a REDIRECT instead of a Forward.
To Redirect an Email in Outlook:
Open the email in its own Window (i.e. you can’t do this if you’re looking at the email in the Reading Pane)
Select the Message Tab and then click Actions (or More Move Actions depending in your version of Outlook).
Click Resend this Message.
The message You do not appear to be the original sender of this message. Are you sure you want to resend it? will be displayed. Click Yes.
Address the email to the person you want to send it to (and type any notes etc. that you want in the email).
What happens when the recipient receives the email and clicks Reply
When the recipient receives the email, it will show that it is from you but on behalf of the original sender.
Now when the he or she clicks Reply, the reply will go to the original sender instead of to you.
Some final thoughts:
If you still want to be included in the reply to the email then I recommend that you use Forward instead of Redirect but remember to CC the original sender of the email too.
However if you just want to pass on the email and then stay out of it, Redirect is the way to go.
Did you know about Redirects (I didn’t)? Do you think they are useful? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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.
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.
Here’s a tip that may help to get your important (but not fun work done) and still leave you time to do your enjoyable work. The secret is based on structuring this work as if you were back in high school.
We all have things that we were created to do…. work that we enjoy doing.
It’s probably what we studied in college and what we started our careers doing. But..
Over the years, the roles have changed. Our responsibilities have included things that we don’t enjoy as much.
Our businesses need us to do other things too!
If you’re a lawyer… or an engineer… or a software developer… or in any creative field, you may find that over the years you have had to do more and more admin and sales work… in fact over time it may feel like you are spending more time doing that kind of work than what you actually signed up for.
Do you find yourself doing all kinds of unproductive things just to avoid making that important sales call, or looking at the accounts?
The type of things I do including checking emails, checking Facebook or going for a cup of coffee… any excuse will do!
This leads to TWO NEGATIVE results.
- The work that is important for the business does not get done and
- I find I don’t really enjoy the work that I normally would enjoy because (at the back of my mind) I feel guilty for not doing the work that needed to be done.
The solution turned out to be something very simple.
Schedule your (non-fun) work as if you were back in high school
Back when we were in school, we had different classes or periods. Maths was at 10 AM, English at 11 AM and so on. We spent time on all our important subjects because it was scheduled and done at a particular time.
I have found that I am much more productive if I use the same idea for the work that my business needs me to do (but I may not enjoy as much).
I have scheduled various 30 minute blocks of time into my week for Sales Emails, Team Mentoring, and Marketing Analysis. Some of these activities may get more than one period per week.
On the allocated time, I set aside what I am doing and focus on the “Subject” for 30 minutes. Sometimes the works gets done before the end of “class”.
Other times I keep going because I am in the flow and the work seems easy to do.
And if I am not in the flow, I work till the end of the “period” and then leave the subject for the next allocated time on my calendar.
This simple trick has helped me become much more productive. The work that is important to our business is now getting done.
A nice side effect has been that I find myself enjoying my work day much more as I no longer feel guilty for ignoring important work.
I hope that this tip helps you too. If you have other productivity tips, please share it with other readers by leaving a comment below.
The Cricket World Cup 2015 is about to start in a few days (14th February), so for all you Cricket Lovers who would not want to miss a single match, or at least not your favorite teams matches, here’s how you can download the times for all the games into your Outlook Calendar.
1. Make sure that your computer is setup to the correct time zone. This step is important to ensure that the game time gets shown at the correct time depending on where in the world you are. Go to the Windows Control Panel and open Date and Time.
(Your screen may be slightly different depending on the version of Outlook… it may have a separate tab for Time Zone).
Make sure that the correct Time Zone is displayed i.e. the time zone of where YOU are. (I am in Fiji so the screen shot above says Fiji). Click on Change time zone if you need to.
2. Click on the link below and save the .ics file to your desktop
Download Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule
3. Import the downloaded file into your Outlook by using the following steps. If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2010, click File - Open – Import. For all other versions of Outlook, click File – Import & Export.
4. Select Import an iCalendar (ics) or vCalendar file (vcs) from the list and click Next.
5. Use the screen that comes up to select the ics file that was downloaded in Step 1.
(You may get the following extra steps depending on the version of Outlook you are using)
Click either Open as New or Import. (I simply imported it to my main Outlook Calendar as it then synched with my Iphone too)
The times for all the games will now be in your Outlook.
Enjoy the games and may the best team win.
The web is full examples of what the dangers to organization due to emails sent to the wrong email address (including one that may have led to a $1B settlement). What are the risks to your organization from these kinds of mistakes, and what you can do to manage those risks? We answer these questions and also look at a solution that several large companies are now implementing.
How do these mistakes occur?
These mistakes typically occur when a user accidentally sends an email to the wrong person. The normal reason for this would be that there may be two people with the same or similar names.
Unfortunately Outlooks Auto Complete list (which generally helps by displaying a list of matching names and email addresses as you begin to type) makes these kinds of mistakes even easier to make.
(Strategy) What can you do to reduce the risks from these kinds of mistakes?
It is probably impossible to eliminate mistakes of this kind altogether. Therefore your organization’s strategy should be based on:
- Configuring Outlook to reduce the chances that users will make these mistakes
- Be able to show (in the event of litigation etc.) that your organization took reasonable action to prevent mistakes of these kinds
What can you do:
The actual actions you can take include:
- Asking users to be more careful and pay more attentions before emails are sent out.
- Turning off Microsoft Outlook’s Auto-Complete feature.
While both of the above are theoretically good solutions, they may not work as well in the real world for most organization because:
- Irrespective of how careful people are, mistakes are inevitable (it’s part of being human).
- Auto-Complete is actually a very useful feature and it is painful and counter-productive to use Outlook without this turned on.
Is there a better solution?
Yes! Send Confirm is an Outlook addin that integrates inside Outlook and automatically prompts for confirmation before emails are sent out.
The domain is highlighted in red as the greatest damage can be caused if confidential information is sent to the wrong organization.
Send Confirm has been designed with the needs of both small and large companies in mind.
- The warning prompt can be customized based on corporate/legal guidelines and policies
- Special filters can be setup to control when the prompt gets displayed (external emails only, all emails etc)
- All settings can be set and deployed centrally
We’ve actually Send Confirm available to users for several years as part of Send Guard for Outlook. However at the request of several larger organizations, we have now packaged Send Confirm as a separate component to make it more cost-effective for wider deployment in organization.
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information on how Send Confirm can be used to protect your organisation.
Do you know where your emails are saved on your computer?
They may not be where you think they are. Here’s how you can find out where your emails are so that you can be sure that they are part of your backup plan.
Last week at the golf club, I spoke to a frustrated fellow golfer who had just lost all his emails…
The harddisk on his old computer had crashed… and when he used his backups top restore his data to his new computer, he was in for a shock.
His Outlook emails were not there… despite having a well-thought out and implemented plan for backing up his computer.
Because Outlook does not actually ask you to save emails in a particular location, it is easy to forget about them.
Where does Outlook save emails?
If your emails are hosted with Office 365 or MS Exchange then a copy of your current emails will be on your server. Hopefully your network administrator is backing them up.
However, if you are using a POP3 mail account (which many people still are) or if you are archiving emails outside of Exchange, you need to know where your emails are being saved.
All your emails are generally saved in one big data file (PST file… which is short for Personal Storage Table). Unfortunately Outlook does not always create this file in a folder that you would remember to backup.
Some users may also have multiple PST files with additional files for Archives etc.
To find out exactly where all your data files are in Outlook 2010/2013:
- Click File.
- On the Info Tab, click Account Settings and then Account Settings again.
- Click Data Files to display a list of all your currently connected data files as shown below.
Makes sure that you are backing up all the Outlook data files shown above.
Additional Tip: If you’re not using Exchange, you may want to put your main Outlook PST files in your Documents folder. Assuming that you’re backing up your Documents folder regularly, you should be safe.
I love the New Year… and making New Year’s Resolutions. It feels like you get a brand new start to getting things right. Getting organized is the second most popular resolution (Losing Weight is #1) so we’re going to give you a series of posts on saving time by getting your emails organized this year.
What are the main reasons that email takes so much of our valuable time?
I am going to look at the common reasons. I’ll also give you some basic ideas on solutions that we will explore in more detail in later posts.
1. It is difficult to know what emails are important
Because of the sheer volume of emails, it is difficult to know which emails we should work on first. As a result, we spend a lot of time on unimportant emails… while important emails stay undone.
One solution for this is to only keep emails in your Inbox that you still need to work on and use Outlook’s flags to highlight more important emails.
However, unless you are very disciplined, you may find that you still end up with too many emails in your Inbox.
2. It takes too long to keep emails organized once we’re done with them
We need to keep emails or future reference. We need to keep them in a way that makes them easy to find in the future… and we need to be able to keep all related emails (sent and received) in a way that they are easy to retrieve them together when we want them.
The easiest thing to do is to create folders for your emails and then drag and drop them.
However because this process is very manual, many people tend to leave the emails in their Inbox or Sent Items folders which makes emails harder to find… and also harder to work on (see point 1 above).
3. We spend too long writing the same emails over and over again
A lot of the emails that we write are very similar to emails that we have written before… at least parts of them are the same. Instead of automating this, we tend to redo the same work over and over again.
For example, I often need to send our bank details to corporate customers. Typing it in each time (even if I copy and paste) can take 30 seconds or more (I need to find the old email to copy from first).
Outlook has some things built into Outlook such as Quick Steps and Quick Parts that can eliminate most of this rework for you.
A quick question for you…
I am going to do follow-up posts to offer solutions to the problems we identified above. I want to make sure that I focus on topics that you are actually interested in.
Please leave a comment below and tell me..
What email related issue is wasting (costing) you the most time?
Happy New Year to all our readers and their family and friends.
Hope you all had a great holiday de-stressing (hopefully not distressing) yourself and gearing up for the year ahead.
I understand it will be awhile till we all get back to actual work so we will keep the first post relatively simple.
I will just provide a quick overview of the year 2014 and the important events that took place in case you missed it… and also provide some links to the favourite post of our readers.
Mid-last year we launched a major upgrade to one of our bestselling email management tool Quick File for Outlook. The response to QuickFile for Outlook version 5 was so positive and over-whelming… I guess the credit for this goes to all the users who contributed with their awesome ideas and recommendations and pushed us to release another major upgrade after 5 years since version 4 was released.
Not just that… overtime we realized that different people used QuickFile differently based on how they work in Outlook and what they do…
On one end we had users who like to simply use QuickFile to file and organize their inbox and sent items while on the other end of the spectrum we had high end users who required much more than just filing.
To cater for all the different user groups, we created 3 different versions of QuickFile:
- QuickFile Standard
- QuickFile Pro
- QuickFile Ultimate
To view the difference between the versions and choose which one best suits your end… visit the Quickfile Comparsion page.
New to QuickFile: If email overload is a problem for you… if you think that you’re not getting the right work done because of the amount of emails in your Inbox… you MUST try this. You can download a fully functional 30 day trial and see for yourself.
Existing QuickFile users: If you missed out on the upgrade, you can view the upgrade options and upgrade to the QuickFile version 5 that works best for you now.
Now let’s have a look at the top 3 Outlook tips blog post for 2014. This posts have been selected based on the NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO READ THE POST!!!
TOP POST#1: Reasons why you should avoid using BCC for emails + Alternative Solution
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?
Find out the 3 main reasons plus what you can do instead of using the BCC field…
TOP POST#2: How to NOT Email Yourself when using Reply-to-All in Outlook
This post was a result of an interesting question that one of the readers asked
“Outlook includes my email address in the To field when I do a Reply-All. Clearly I do not want to email myself but Outlook lacks the intelligence to not add my email address to the email. Do you have a solution?…”
The reply to this was YES!!!
Find out what the solution was…
TOP POST#3: Saving (Exporting) Outlook emails with your other files
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 hard disk in Client folders along with Word files etc.
There are two formats by default which you can save the emails in Outside of Outlook, these are Outlook Message format and Text only, but in this post we also showed you how to save the emails in PDF format…
Well that pretty much raps up 2014 for us… time sure flew and without even realising we are now in year 2015.
The Standss team is ready for the year ahead and as always… we have big plans for this year as well and we will be notifying you of this once ready…
The whole Standss Team would like to once again which everyone a Happy New Year and great success for the year ahead… Thank you for being part of the Standss family and we wish to continue serving you the way we have and offering you solutions that saves you time and makes you productive.
Till next time… have a better Outlook.
Sending Personalized Holiday Season Invites, Greeting and Newsletters via Email/Fax/Traditional Post
Christmas is just around the corner… parties are planned and the invite list is ready.
This is the time of the year when businesses and individuals need to send out holiday season invites for parties/events… greetings to families, friends, colleagues and clients.
Most companies also send out newsletters during the year end to update their clients/members of the achievement for the year, plans for the New Year, and special offers for the holiday seasons etc.
Are you wondering how to send out personalized invites in the
most easiest and efficient way possible?
Depending on your contact list, the best way to send out your invites, greetings or newsletters this year may be using email, fax or post/hand delivery.
Most of these mailing can be considered “mass mailing” i.e. we want to send copies of the same mail to everyone… possibly customized with their name and address at most.
Microsoft Outlook and Word have some built-in features that automate this process for you. In addition we have built our own tools to further speed up and simplify the process for you.
In this post I’ll discuss both, the built in free way as well as our own addins.
Send Personalized email Invites, Greetings and Newsletters directly from Outlook.
I am going to start with what I consider to be the easiest, fastest and most powerful way of doing this… our own EmailMerge PRO for Outlook.
Seeing is believing so check out this short video on how to send out Invites, Greetings and Newsletters using EmailMerge Pro.
Send unlimited emails to unlimited number of contacts directly from Outlook. EmailMerge supports HTML emails so don’t hold back in creating beautiful and colourful emails this Christmas season
We also have built-in email templates for invites, greetings and newsletters. You can easily customize this emails to suit your style and personalize it yourself. You don’t have been be an expert at HTML, you can customize this templates using the standard word formatting options in Outlook.
|“I have found emailmerge pro the most useful tool in my marketing armoury! It is simple to use, has some great options for sending emails and is of great value to any businesses wanting a mass email facility.”
- Lori Hope, Spraytanz Ltd
|“Emailmerge Pro is a fantastic tool to personalize emails for large or small groups of people. The ability to mail merge gives you unlimited abilities to create very personalized emails. I use it to improve communication to groups ranging from 8 – 1000+.”
- Jack Fiscus, first Baptist Orlando
How to Fax out Invites, Greetings and Newsletters.
Despite what many people will have you believe, Faxing is not dead.
In fact in terms of deliverability, it can beat email – there is almost no chance that your fax won’t get delivered because of an over-zealous spam filter.
You can use Microsoft Word and the free fax printer that comes with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 to send out personalized faxes to your customers this year.
The Bad News: Windows Fax and MS Word don’t talk easily to each other out of the box.
The Good News: Fax4Word allows you to fax merge straight from Word to the Windows Fax printer.
How to Print Letters and Envelopes for Posting and Hand Delivery
Even if you will be sending paper based mail this year, technology can help you.
Here are step-by-step instructions to:
I hope you find the above information helpful in staying in touch with friends, families and clients this year.
Merry Christmas to all our readers from the Standss Team.
Till next time… have a better Outlook
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