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10 tips for mastering Microsoft Outlook 2013

Helen Bradley | May 14, 2013
Keeping track of emails, calendars and contacts can suck untold time out of any workday. If you use Outlook, anything that speeds up your workcan boost your productivity measurably. Imagine if your inbox only showed the messages you wanted to see. Consider if you could locate vital contact information in seconds. What if you finally knew why some of the hyped Outlook features aren't working as advertised?

Keeping track of emails, calendars and contacts can suck untold time out of any workday. If you use Outlook, anything that speeds up your workcan boost your productivity measurably. Imagine if your inbox only showed the messages you wanted to see. Consider if you could locate vital contact information in seconds. What if you finally knew why some of the hyped Outlook features aren't working as advertised?

These 10 tips will help you zip through your messages and agenda, and work more effectively overall.

1. View your inbox your way
When you first open your inbox, the default view of your email appears, but it doesn't have to look this way. To see Outlook's many customization options, click the View tab on the ribbon toolbar and choose Change View. There are multiple preset views you can choose, like one that displays the most recent emails only.

Also on the View tab, you can select Message Previews and choose Off to turn the preview off. Or, choose either 1, 2 or 3 to view that number of lines of the message below its header. You can configure any of these options either for the current folder or for all mailboxes.

Click View Settings to see options for customizing a view, such as adding columns or rearranging their order. The Arrangement options let you sort emails by Date, Subject and so on. The Layout options let you customize the Folder Pane and Reading Pane.

Once you have arranged the inbox to your liking, click Change View > Save Current View As a New View. Then type a name for the view, and specify which folders it can be used on and by whom. In the future, return to this view by selecting Change View and selecting your saved view.

2. Redefine what marks an email as already "read"
Outlook colors unread emails differently from messages you've already read. However, it's all too easy for an email to be marked as "read" when you've barely given it a passing glance, which can make you overlook something important.

To prevent this, you can make Outlook less sensitive. Start by selecting File > Options > Mail, and then click the Reading Pane button. Check the "Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane" checkbox, and adjust the number of seconds you want the message to appear in the Reading Pane before Outlook marks it as read. The default is 5 seconds.

After that, while you preview messages in the Reading Pane, only the emails that appear there longer than your preset amount of time will be marked automatically as read.

 

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