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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?

6. Clean up contact information
New features in Outlook's People module let you access information about contacts from places including Facebook and LinkedIn. In some cases you will have multiple contact entries in the contact list for a single person, with different details in each place.

You can link these multiple entries for a single contact to unify the data in one place. Click the contact you're interested in and view their information by choosing Home > People.

On the right of the screen, click Link Contacts, and a dialog will open showing the contact entry or entries for that person. In the Search People box type some identifying information for that person and Outlook will return any other contact entries which may be a match for that person. If they are the same person, click on that entry to link the details.

7. Control where Outlook searches by default
When you search for emails in Outlook, the default location is your Current Mailbox. However, this is often too limited. If you want a search to return all matching entries in all mailboxes, for instance, you'll need to select this option from the list in the Search box for every search you make.

Alternately, you can change the default location that Outlook uses for searching. To do this, choose File > Options > Search.In the Results area you can select to include results, choosing one of these four options: Current Folder; the Current Folder, Current Mailbox when searching from the inbox; Current Mailbox; or All Mailboxes. Select the option that you want to use and click OK. This will then become the default for Outlook searches although of course you can change it on a search by search basis when needed.

8. Decide whether to use Quick Steps or Rules
Quick Steps were introduced in Outlook 2010 to give you a method of quickly performing tasks in Outlook. However, you might wonder why you would use a Quick Step rather than a Rule? Quick Steps are flexible so you can choose to apply them when you want to use them - Rules are less flexible and once they are set up they are applied automatically.

The answer to which of these you should use depends on your task. Use Rules, for example, when you can identify a message that should always be handled in a specific way every time. So you would use a rule if you want to move all incoming messages from your boss to a particular folder. A rule will work well here because your boss' emails will be easy to identify by the unique email address.


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