Microsoft Outlook 2016: Tips & Tricks For Santa Cruz Businesses

You’re Probably Already Using Outlook

So, Why Not Get the Most Out of It?


Changing the Look of Outlook

You may already know that the ribbon bar at the top of your Outlook page contains all the icon views/ribbon tabs for selecting specific functions. However, here are a few more tips:

  • View Styles
    • Go to File>Options and you’ll see a lot of customizable features you can use. Here, you can change the color of your ribbons and more.
    • At the top of all your emails you can sort them by date, name, size, subject etc. To undo any changes, click the Reset View butt0n.
    • Change the folder pane view, hide it, minimize folders and more. To undo, hit Control>Shift>1.
    • Customize where your reading pane is (a preview of your email). You can set it at the right, bottom or turn it off altogether.
    • Set a default to have your calendar, tasks, and search functions appear.
    • In newer versions of Outlook there’s a “People Pane,” that includes a bit of information about the person you’re communicating with, and what’s transpired.
    • View your emails as conversations, so you can view all the of emails exchanged on the particular thread. Go to the View tab on your ribbon bar, and click the Conversation Checkbox. You can apply this to all mailboxes, or just the one you have open.
  • Hot Keys (Shortcuts)

The best place to find a list of these is on Microsoft Website. If you use more than the email portion of Outlook, you can easily switch between views.

  • Control 2 will take you to your Calendar.
  • Control 3 will take you to your Contacts.
  • Control 4 will take you to your Tasks.
  • Control 1 will take you back to your Email.

Inbox Organizational Tips

  • Quick Steps
    • Go to the Home icon to quickly select a particular email and share it to others.
    • Manage Quick Steps lets you create new Quick Steps, such as creating a meeting, moving emails into a folder, and more.
    • Categories: Categorize allows you to establish a quick way to sort through your emails via a category. Or you can add categories, rename them, and colorize them according to their importance.
  • Rules and Subfolders
    • Rules: From your Inbox Right Click and a menu will come up. Go to Rules and you can set up specific choices for what you can do with your emails. Or go to the File tab and select the Rules Note: if you remove Rules, this will only apply to new, incoming emails. Also, don’t choose to have a “Nested” Inbox folder (e.g., major client folders). If you automatically sort your emails here, it will not indicate that there’s a new email here.
    • The Search Folder option lets you find things like “unread emails,” project emails, or emails from a particular person, etc. Go to the Folder tab in your email section and click on New Search Folder. A dialog box will appear. The Search Folder will appear in the Inbox with the associated emails you selected. Note: If you have multiple address books, you can also specify what address books to search in. Note: It doesn’t move any emails from your Inbox.

Conditional Formatting 

This is how emails are displayed inside of your Inbox. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click the arrow next to Conditional Formatting and then experiment with the available styles:

  • Change font colors, styles, sizes and more.
  • Add a new format for various emails (say from a specific recipient such as your manager).
  • Highlight different projects by changing the format/colors, etc.


Tasks are found in the Tasks Page. Click Tasks > New Task or press Ctrl+Shift+K. In the Subject box, type a name for the task. If you’ve got a lot to enter, keep the subject short, and then add the details in the task body. If there’s a fixed start or end date, set the Start date or Due date. Set the task’s priority by using Priority. If you want a pop-up reminder, check Reminder, and set the date and time. Click Task > Save & Close.

Create a Task from an email message: When you want to create a task based on the contents of an email message, you don’t have to re-enter all the information. Instead, click the message and drag it to Tasks on the navigation bar.  By doing this you save time as contents from the message are automatically added to the new task. Just like for any task, you can set a due date, add a reminder, or assign the task to someone else. Plus, if you receive an email from someone asking you to do something, Microsoft Outlook has the ability to identify this as a previous task that you set.

For more information about Microsoft Outlook, or any other Microsoft products – Or for help with any IT issues for your business, feel free to contact: or call us at: (855) 303-5378 .

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