Outlook Hacks to Make Your Emails Work for You

Chances are that emails are a part of your every day life, and even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Microsoft Outlook is one of the most popular email servers in the world. Follow these hints and tips to get the most out of using the software.


Create ‘rules’ to programme your email app to file emails from certain people or with certain subject lines in a specific place.

Simply right click on the email you want to create the rule for, hover over ‘rules’ and select ‘create rule’. You’ll then get to choose to sort emails based on things like sender or subject content.

You can choose whether these emails are moved to certain folders, and even assign different sounds to emails from certain senders. If you want to know by sound whether an email is from an important client, this is a great tool to use.

There are also tonnes of advanced options to play around with too.

Schedule Your Out of Office

Picture this. You’ve got a week’s leave coming up but you have heaps of stuff to get through before you log off on that Friday afternoon. 5pm rolls around, you’ve sent your last email, ticked off the final item on your ‘to-do’ list. What’s the one thing that’s easy to forget? Putting on the Out of Office response telling your colleagues and clients that you are away from your desk. It’s a horrible feeling to have to log back on to turn on the Out of Office function.

But with Outlook, you’ll never forget to put on your out of office ever again. Schedule the days and times you want your out off office response to apply by going to ‘File’ —- ‘Automatic Replies’. You can then choose to send replies ‘only during this time range’. Select the dates you’ll be away to the nearest minute if you wish. You can set this hours or even days before your leave begins.

Use Flags and Categories to Organise Your Priorities.

Not ready to file those emails away? Want them to hit you in the face as soon as you open outlook? Handy colour-coded categories can help you organise the emails you’re not ready to hide in your left hand side filing system yet.

Your top toolbar will have an icon with four multi-coloured squares and a drop-down list. These are called your categories: handy colour coded little things which keep emails sorted in your inbox in any way you choose. You may have colours for different clients or projects. Other people like to have categories for differing levels of urgency. However you choose to do it, these little coloured tags really do work, especially for people who associate colour with memory.

And even better, they’ll sync to your calendar so meetings about different projects will also appear in the corresponding colour. Great if you want to get a quick overview on which projects are taking up most of your time.

Use Shortcuts

The clue is in the name! These little hacks will cut short your time navigating around Outlook. Quickly shift to your calendar, tasks and compose a new email using the tips below:

Reply to an email:  Ctrl + R
To create a new email:  Ctrl + Shift + M
To open your email:  Ctrl + 1
To open your calendar:  Ctrl + 2
To open your contacts:  Ctrl + 3
To open your tasks:  Ctrl + 4

Drag and Drop

You can drag any email to contacts, tasks or calendar and outlook will create a contact, set a task or add an appointment without you having to type a thing!

Make Use of Outlook’s Email Templates

If you find yourself typing the same thing multiple times a week, it might be time to set up email templates. Simply type a message into the body of a new email, then in the message window click ‘File’ — ‘Save As’. In the dialogue box, click ‘Save as type’ and click ‘Outlook Template’.

Use the Scheduling Assistant

Use this tool to check everyone’s calendar and never have a meeting clash again. Depending on what permissions you have you will be able to see whether everyone you need is available. This cuts out a lot of back and forth trying to find a time when everyone can attend.

Limit Your Notifications

It’s a simple matter of turning off message alerts in your mail preferences. Then you can create a new rule to receive notifications from certain people who send you emails.

Clean Up Your Threads

Use the clean up function to stop reading the same thread many times. This is particularly useful when you return from holiday. Outlook will ‘clean up’ and previous emails in a thread and show you the most up-to-date version, with the entire thread beneath it. This will avoid the embarrassment of replying mid-thread! Simply choose the ‘clean up folder’ option. Or type ‘clean up’ in the search bar.

Not enough info here for you? Something still lacking in your Outlook knowledge? Speak to our friendly team today about ways in which we can help you get up to speed with the latest software and about the other ways we can support your IT needs.