Professionals Reveal Their Microsoft Outlook 2016 Top Tips

Looking for quick tips to optimize your Microsoft Outlook experience? Check out this article that includes all you need to know to get the most out of Microsoft Outlook.

Outlook Tips and Tricks

With over a billion users worldwide, Microsoft Outlook is the preferred email program for business owners. Though other email programs have some of the same features, no single one of them addresses the everyday needs of business professionals better than Outlook.

In spite of its popularity and its versatility, many users are not getting the full range of benefits Microsoft Outlook has to offer.

This program provides a rich array of valuable features. It allows users to sort, filter and categorize all emails. In addition, there are numerous other email shortcuts that can save users time and reduce their daily frustration. Below, we discuss some of the biggest time-savers. Please note that these shortcuts are based on Outlook 2010, but most will work on later versions, as well as earlier ones.

Learn the Keyboard Shortcuts

It may not seem like it to some people, but having to move your mouse around and click on something takes a lot longer than just pressing two keys. For people whose world revolves around email, the wasted time can really add up. Therefore, it’s expedient to learn a half dozen of the most commonly used shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+R: reply to email
  • Alt+S: send email
  • Alt+R: reply to all in email or switch to work week calendar view
  • Ctrl+M: or F9 to Send/Receive all
  • Alt+W: forward email or switch to weekly calendar view
  • Ctrl+G: open the “Go to date” dialog and jump to any date in the calendar

New to Outlook?

You won’t be a newbie for long once you learn these tricks. Below are a few great tips for newcomers that will have you working like a pro in no time.

Switching Tasks

This tip lets you easily switch between your calendar, contacts, email and other items by pressing Ctrl + [the place number of the item]. This can eliminate lots of clumsy maneuvering in the navigation pane.

Quick Steps

This feature, first introduced in Microsoft Outlook 2010, is the fast, painless way to create your own shortcut when performing any multi-step action (it’s also available for modifying default Quick Steps). For instance, let’s say you want to create a Quick Step for marking emails as read, then forward them to a specific group of people.

Go to the Home tab and click Mail, then in the Quick Steps section, click the More arrow. Next, click on Manage Quick Steps. Select the Quick Step you would like to change, and then choose Modify. Look for Actions, then change or add the actions you want this Quick Step to perform. In the Shortcut key box, assign this Quick Step a name. You can also change the icon next to the Name box by clicking on it, then click OK.

Create a New Item from the Clipboard

This one is a real time-saver. Instead of going to Outlook, opening a new item and then copying and pasting content into it, you can do all this in one smooth step. Simply copy text to your clipboard and press Ctrl-V to create a new message that contains the selected text.

Using Outlook for A Short Time?

Sometimes we all must work on a specific project or with a team that’s already using Microsoft Outlook. For those people, it can be a hassle to get up to speed on how to carry out common tasks. The tips below will have you whizzing through your emails.

How to Create a Calendar Event

Most new users think you have to scroll through the calendar to find a date that works for your upcoming meeting or appointment. Outlook allows you to simply type phrases like “three weeks from now” or “next Wednesday”. Your calendar automatically sets up the appointment. Of course, you can always change these dates if you need to.

Modify Desktop Notifications

If you get lots of emails each day, you understand how distracting it can be to constantly be notified of a new email. Many of the emails we all get aren’t that important anyway. Outlook allows you to set your desktop notifications so that you are only notified of messages from people that you specify.

You can set up a VIP email folder by going to Rules > New Rules, then select “Advanced Options”. The “Rules Wizard” allows you to specify which emails should be sent directly into the VIP folder. That way, you’ll have your important messages all in one place. Using the Rules Wizard, you can set up all your Mail Options so that they work for you, not against you.

Creating Email Templates

During an ordinary workday, we often send out similar messages to people. Why not create an email template for those? Open the email, then select File > Save As > Outlook template. Now when you want to send the message out to someone, go to New Items > Choose Form. Browse through your “User Templates in File System” to find the template and click on it.

Seasoned Outlook Vet?

Maybe you’ve been using Outlook for years and are ready to learn some new tricks. Below are a few amazing time-savers.

Schedule Email Delivery

Whether you’re running off to a meeting or rushing to the airport, you may want to send emails to special people later that day or even weeks in the future. First, write the email, then go to Options > Delay Delivery > Do not deliver before. and then simply type in the date and time you want the message sent out.

Make Folders for Emails

Organizing emails into specific folders is a great way to streamline your Inbox. A good folder system can save you time and prevent important messages from getting lost. Once you have your folders set up, simply drag emails into the right folder. Go to Folder > New Folder and enter a name for it. In the pull-down menu called “Folder Contains”, select “Mail and Post Items”, which formats the folder for email messages. Next, choose “Select where to place the folder” to assign a location for it, and click OK.

You can use this to create folders for people or businesses that you get regular emails from. You probably get daily emails from your boss, so it’s a good idea to set up a folder with his name on it. You may get emails from important clients, each one of which can have their own individual folder.

Once you get all your folders set up, be sure to create Rules so you can easily route mail to the correct folders. The easiest way to do this is to open the email message, go to the Move group on the Home tab and click on Rules. A list of suggested rules will appear.

Let’s say you wanted to set up all emails from your boss, Jay Jones, to go into a folder with his name on it. Click on “Always Move Messages From: Jay Jones”. Click on the “Jay Jones” folder to select it, and click OK. From now on, every message from Jay Jones will go directly into a folder with his name on it. No more searching endlessly for important messages from the boss.

Create Sticky Notes for Quick Reminders

Have a fun luncheon coming up with friends? There’s no need to create a calendar event for tasks like this. With Outlook open, you can create a new sticky note by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N. Your note can be dragged anywhere on the screen. Now you’ll have that little reminder so you don’t miss important events.

A Few More Quick Tips

Microsoft Outlook has many more fast, convenient ways to streamline your daily email experience. For example, it’s easy to group long email threads into one message. Simply click on the message, then click View > Show as Conversation.

Block emails from specific people by going to Home > Junk email options. A new window will open, in which you can select which senders you wish to block.

You can quickly Flag a message for further inquiry. Simply press the Insert key to toggle the flag off and on. In newer versions of Outlook, a small flag appears in the upper right corner. You can click on this flag to specify follow-up options.

Cloud Advantages

With everything moving to the cloud, newer versions of Outlook will have more features that are web-based, which users will be able to access from any device or location. This is the future of all Internet programs. Today’s savvy business people need to work on airplanes, in hotel lobbies and from phones, as well as laptops. With the cloud, you can take your work home or even on vacation with you. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. We all do need some time away from work each week.

The Future of Outlook

With millions of faithful users, Microsoft Outlook should remain the go-to email program for business owners. Microsoft has tweaked the program over the years to make it more intuitive and less intrusive. Their use of helpful built-in features appeals to business professionals.

As the program continues to expand, users can save time and get the drudgery of daily emailing completed much quicker. It’s a good idea to check the Microsoft website for new updates each year and become a true Outlook guru.


I first hired John directly as an employee back in 1999.
He was an excellent addition to a growing team at a small technology company. Subsequent to the sale of the company, John branched out on his own and started an IT consulting firm. Since that time, I have not used anyone else. John is capable, personable, has integrity and is also very likable. I would recommend him without reservation.”

  Kevin DiCerbo   

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