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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?

3. Apply conditional formatting to messages
Outlook 2013 has a new way of indicating that messages are unread. There's a blue bar to the left of the message in your inbox, and the message header also appears blue.

This blue is applied using conditional formatting. However, you can change both the color and font. Better still, you can write your own rules and format your emails using colors of your choice.

You can assign a certain color to emails based upon who sent them, or upon which words appear in the subject line. To do this, choose View > View Settings > Conditional Formatting. You will see the Unread Messages rule and the blue color. Here you can change the font or color as you wish.

You can also click Addto add a new rule. Start by typing a name for the rule in the Name box. Then click Font and choose a font and font color to apply to the email header. Finally. click the Condition button. When the Filter dialog opens, select the options that describe which emails will be formatted with your new settings. Click OK three times to save your settings.

4. Reinstate the to-do bar
Outlook 2013 disables the To-Do bar by default, but it's easy to bring back. Click the View tab, select To-Do Bar, and from the dropdown list select which items should appear on the To-Do bar. The options are to turn the To-Do Bar Off (the default) or for it to display a combination of Tasks, People and Calendar. The order in which you select these options determines the order they appear in the To-Do Bar. For example, Task, selected first, is at the top. The second item, People, appears below that and the third, Calendar, appears at the bottom of the bar.

However, the To-Do bar no longer functions as it did in earlier versions of Outlook. Regardless of how wide the bar is, you only see a one calendar month. In addition, if you don't have appointments scheduled for today, then no appointments show even if you have some scheduled tomorrow.

5. Connect to your social media accounts
When you connect Outlook to your social media accounts, the People module can display data about your contacts and their activities.

To link a social network account to Outlook 2013, choose File > Info > Account Settings > Social Network Accounts. Connect to LinkedIn and Facebook by selecting the desired service, typing your account details, and giving Outlook permission to access your account. Now details from people in your contact list who use the social site you've added will appear in the People area of Outlook.


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