Microsoft Outlook for Dummies

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With the popularity of online organizers, finding an application which will receive the burden of compiling your files, scheduling dates and act as a communication platform, becomes a need. For example, your Google account also gives you access to its other services, outside e-mailing. Interconnection of computer units within the same area poses a problem, if you solely use Google, though. Overlooked by its shinier counterparts, Microsoft Office has its own version of these applications.

Microsoft Outlook acts as a good tool for enterprise level collaboration, in a manner that everyone can share the same address book and calendar. Outlook is mostly known for its e-mailing function, but it also schedules activities, tasks and has contacts “talents” as well. Unfortunately, it has to be connected to an Exchange server for this to be utilized.

Do not fret if you can only use Microsoft Outlook at home. This works just as well, since the application packs powerful features that make it a productivity tool. Outlook may not be a stunner, but its simple layout and familiarity with other Microsoft systems, make it really easy to use.

Exploring Microsoft Outlook

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The Home Tab features buttons normally found in other Microsoft Office software.

Once you open Microsoft Outlook, you will immediately see the inbox and the ribbon. The latter is prevalent to all Microsoft Office tools and it just happens that some are irritated by its presence. In case you hate it, just press Ctrl+F1 to hide it and to save space.

Clicking the Home Tab makes the ribbon appear and enables you to choose functions and tools which suit your needs. Simply press CTRL+F1, or select the pushpin icon in the bottom right corner of the screen, if you want it to appear permanently. The ribbon’s contents also change depending on the mode you are in. The Settings for Mail and Calendar are the most used modes, as far as the Home Button is concerned. In regard to other ribbon tabs (Send/Receive/View), their contents are mostly consistent, regardless of the mode you are in.

You will see a small arrow in the left side of the ribbon and clicking this will show you the folder tree of your email account. If you are in Calendar mode, the applicable view is also provided.

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Presented here is the Calendar, one of the modes available in Microsoft Outlook.

Located at the leftmost side of the window, below the ribbon, is a folder pane. Clicking this allows you to move between modes and change view. At the bottom part, you will find useful shortcuts in your Outlook experience. You can customize what you want to place there, by selecting the three dots at the lowest left portion of the window. From there, select Navigation options and you can change the order in which these elements appear. You can also increase or decrease the number of items appearing on your screen.

Assuming you want to send mails, make sure you set your Outlook in Mail mode first. Even if the Send tab appears in all modes, its functionality differs. For example, the server option is absent when you go through it using Calendar mode. It also depends on your mail protocol whether you can mark or unmark messages to download.

The Folder Tab, on the other hand, is fairly consistent among all modes, except for Calendar. Below the tab itself is the Inbox Folder tab, which does the data administration of your folders in Outlook. Well, there is an AutoArchive Settings button located in the ribbon, but clicking it will not give you much help. Instead, look for the Options button in the same ribbon and go to Advanced. Find the AutoArchive option and locate AutoArchive Settings. You will receive a far more helpful dialogue box in this case.

If you are in Calendar mode, expect that this folder will cater calendar functions. You can copy or move calendars using this option. Assuming you have a business, it will be tough for you to manage, if you just let the messages be stored in Inbox, without any meaningful arrangement. Hence, a good folder structure and organization is needed.

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The View Tab lets you see options regardless of the mode you chose.

The View Tab in your Inbox is also the same one present in ribbons. There is a Reminder button that lets you check those activities you still haven’t done. If a reminder shows in your window, you can simply dismiss it by hitting the snooze button, or by marking it as seen in bulk. For the other options, these can be used depending on the mode you are in. Some options are solely available to Calendar or Task or Email. The Layout section also exists regardless of the mode you applied, but take note that there’s no button to replicate a certain format in the whole application. Using the View Tab also allows you to sort information by choosing your preferences. This is quite useful when your office work piles up and you have certain deadlines to beat.

Microsoft Outlook’s Function ribbon mostly looks the same as other Microsoft Office software. The box for setting the font size and style is still there and so is the alignment of the text. Also present are the Format Text button and the Review Tab, which are dead ringers for Microsoft Word. What differs this time is the presence of the basic buttons you need to compose an email message. There’s nothing complicated with this set up and producing emails will not be an issue. The same can be said with the Insert button because it is basically the same with other Microsoft Office software.

The Task button is unique to Outlook, though. Here, you can create a task or access an existing one. The Options Tab is available when you create an email message. There is a Themes button, whose usefulness might vary, but the BCC option (the function that allows you to hide the receivers of your email), and the Tracking function are its good traits.

Opening Microsoft Outlook

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This is the most time-consuming part of using this software. Unless you give your email address, you won’t be able to use its features. Simply type the Outlook.com email account of your choice, if you want to take the easy way of using it. Just remember that you need a Microsoft email address for this to work.

Assuming you are using a Google account, or you need to use many email accounts, you will have to manually configure Microsoft Outlook. It is highly recommended for you to use IMAP, which is a more sophisticated platform that works whether you are online or not.

If you want to add a new email account to your Outlook, simply click File, then Add account. A dialogue box for Auto Setup will appear next and simply fill up the needed information there. If you want to do this manually, choose Manual setup and click Next. Again, a Microsoft email account is needed to add email accounts easily.

You can choose the account you want to deal with by using a drop down selector whenever you need to manage your accounts. This is found at the top of Account Information page, located on the File Tab. Select Account Settings twice and a new window will appear. There, you can create a new account, repair what you currently use, remove it or set it as default.

Once you are done with these settings, use Microsoft Outlook for whichever purpose suits you better. Your Yahoo and Gmail accounts normally suffice your daily email needs. However, you might be overlooking the prowess of Microsoft Outlook.

How’s your Microsoft Outlook experience?

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