5 Microsoft Outlook Hacks That’ll Help Slay the Email Monster
Dealing with emails is like squaring up for a boss fight. You wake up on Monday morning, flick on your laptop and get punched in the face with that dreaded mountain of unread emails. You’re still feeling groggy from a weekend spent on the couch slaying enemies online, now you’re facing the ugliest monster of all: Microsoft Outlook emails. 👹
It doesn’t help that most of us are working from home. We can’t seem to agree on whether it’s a good or bad thing for productivity, but one thing’s for sure: it helps to know some sneaky hacks for staying focused throughout the day.
So what are the secrets to grinding down the HP of this boss?
Never miss another email from your clan leader
It’s 5:03PM. You see an urgent email from your boss sent just after lunch, asking you to respond before 5:00PM. You enter panic mode. 🚨🚨🚨
Missing emails from the head honcho could be a #GG for your career, so here’s a handy safeguard. Right click one of their emails and select Rules.
Set how you want to be notified when you receive a message from this contact with things like a desktop notification or an audible alert. You can also tell Outlook to automatically mark it as important, flag it for follow up or make an exception for when you are cc’ed.
Turn Outlook into your filing assistant sidekick
You may already know you can create folders to sort emails within your Inbox. But here’s the REAL hack: using Rules, you can tell Microsoft Outlook emails to automatically move into a folder when they arrive.
Next time you receive a relevant email, right click it and choose Rules (or go via the Tools menu on a Mac). Choose ‘Move to Folder’, make sure their email address is pre-filled and select the corresponding folder. Add extra criteria if needed, save the rule and you’re done! 😎
Up your efficiency with shortcuts and hotkeys
When you play League of Legends or Dota 2, you don’t click everything like a noob. You use hotkeys to get the edge over your opponent. Microsoft Office 365 is no different, especially Outlook. Using shortcuts makes it so much easier to quickly grind through your inbox and get back to more important tasks. There are countless shortcuts you can use, but here’s a bunch to start with:
- Switch to Mail tab = Ctrl + 1
- Switch to Calendar tab = Ctrl + 2
- Switch to Contacts tab = Ctrl + 3
- Switch to Tasks tab = Ctrl + 4
- Switch to Notes tab = Ctrl + 5
- Switch to Inbox = Ctrl-Shift-i
- Reply to email = Ctrl + R
- Compose new email = Ctrl + Shift + M
- Schedule calendar appointment = Ctrl + Shift + A
- Search in Outlook = Alt + Q
Dual-wield your inbox and calendar at the same time
If you use your Microsoft Outlook calendar just as much as your inbox, flicking between the two all day is enough to make you dizzy. Whether you’re using a dual screen or just the one, you can view both windows at once like a ninja with a double-edged sword on a quest for email domination. ⚔️
Simply right click Mail or Calendar (or any other tab) on the bottom left of Outlook and choose ‘Open in new window’. When it opens, you can either drag it to your second screen or resize the windows to fit on one desktop. EZ game.
Keep your favorite weapons (sorry, folders…) within reach
You might have a crowded inbox packed with all sorts of folders, but you’ll always use some more than others. Click a frequently used folder and drag it up to the Favorites section of the Navigation panel or right click and choose ‘Show in Favorites’ for Windows or ‘Add to Favourites’ for Mac.
This puts a shortcut to the folder high up in the Favorites section, making it easy to access whenever you need. You can even drag the Favorites around to make a custom order based on your preferences; no more digging through a big pile of loot to find what you need!
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Carrie is a problem-solving adventurer at Circles.Life. While she’s off-duty, she wears many other hats: does photography that #SparkTheOrdinary at @carriesimitaiji, writes on her lifestyle blog carriesim.com, and spread body positivity on her Instagram account @carriesim.