Quick and Easy Tricks to Using Outlook Calendar, Tasks, & Inbox

May 28, 2014 Outlook  No comments

With the over 150 billion emails that are sent and received each day, you need an effective way to manage your emails as well as your meetings and other engagements. Microsoft makes this easy by having your inbox, calendar, and tasks all in one. Here are some tips to help manage your time and inbox.

Meeting Tracking

When you plan a big meeting, you have so many different materials, so having to create an attendee list can be extra, time-consuming work. Instead of recreating that yourself, let Outlook create that for you. If you are the meeting organizer, go to the “Meeting” tab and in the “Show” group, click on the “Tracking” button. From the drop-down options, select “Copy Status to Clipboard.” You can then paste it to a Word document, composed email, or Excel spreadsheet. It might look a little messy after you paste it into a Word document or composed email, so to clean it up, highlight the text and go to the “Insert” tab and click on the “Table” button. From the drop-down options, select “Convert Text to Table”. When you paste it in Excel, it should automatically fill in chart format. Now, you can then use the sort and filter features to sort your attendee list by RSVP or other criteria. **Remember, you must be the meeting organizer in order to use this feature.

Setting an Out of Office or Vacation Auto Reply

If you are going to be out of the office or on vacation, it’s a good idea to set an automatic reply to let people know that you are not in the office and might not see their email right away. To set up an automatic reply, click on the “File” tab and in the “Info” area, click on the “Automatic Replies” button. Select the “Send automatic replies” box, so you can set the start and end date of when you will be out of the office and need the email sent. Enter the body of the email explaining that you are on vacation or out of the office for another reason and let the sender know that you may have limited access to your email. Try to provide a date that you will be able to reply by, so that senders will know when to expect a reply.

 Conversation View

With Outlook 2010, you can now sort your emails by conversations, which groups all of your correspondences between you and a certain person together. This is very helpful for keeping your inbox organized. By default, your emails will appear as they normally would, so you need to enable the conversation setting. To do this, go to the “View” tab, and check the box that says “Show as Conversations.” You will then be asked if you want the messages to be shown in conversation mode in the folder you are in or in all of the folders in your inbox. If you don’t want your emails to show up in conversation s anymore, you can just uncheck the “Show as Conversations” box, and your inbox will go back to the default view setting. A cool feature in conversation mode is the “Ignore” feature. You can ignore an ongoing email conversation that you no longer want to be a part of. To do this, select the email and then click the “Ignore” button.


Quick flags help keep you organized by categorizing your messages by their level of importance or by task. To customize the way the flags are displayed on your toolbar, so you can easily remember what each one represents, click on the “Tools” menu and select “Customize.” On the “Toolbars” tab, click on new and give your new toolbar a name. In the customize dialog box, click on the “Command” tab and in the “Categories” list, click on Actions. From there, drag the flag color button from the “Command” list to your new toolbar. After adding all the flags that you want, you can change the text for each flag by right-clicking on the flag button and selecting the “Replace Name” setting. So rather than having the red flag be called “Red Flag”, you can change the name to “Critical”. When you set the new name, select the “Image and Text” option, so that both the flag and the name will be displayed on the toolbar.

Tracking Your Emails: Delivery/Read Receipts & Other Features

When you send important emails, you want to make sure that they are reaching your recipient, so Outlook has several features to help you manage your sent emails. Choose from the following options:

  • Delivery and read receipts: This feature will give you notifications when your message is delivered or read. This way you can ensure that the email actually gets to your intended recipient.
  • Voting: This feature allows you to add a simple yes or no poll or custom buttons to collect responses from email recipients.

Delivery and Read Receipts: The difference between a delivery receipt and a read receipt is that a delivery receipt simply let’s you know that the email was delivered to the recipient’s inbox, but it doesn’t tell you whether the recipient has seen or read it. On the other hand, a read receipt notifies you when your message is opened, so you will know that the recipient has seen and read the message. Please note that the recipient of your message might decline to send a read receipt or their email program they use may not support read receipts, so it isn’t a feature that will always work, but it can be useful. To request a delivery or read receipt, compose your message like you normally would, then click on the “Options” tab. In the tracking section, you can check the box for “Request a delivery” and/or “Request a read receipt”. The receipts will be recorded in the original message, so to see it, go to “Sent Items”. Open the message and on the “Message” tab click on the “Show” button in the “Tracking” area.

Add Voting Button: To create a poll in the message that you’re sending, compose your message like you normally would, then on the “Options” tab, click on the “Use Voting Buttons” in the “Tracking” section. You will have to choose from the following options:

  • Yes;No: This is good to use for a yes/no question.
  • Yes;No;Maybe: This is like the yes/no question option, but it gives recipients a third option if they are unsure.
  • Custom: This allows you to create your own button name with options like times, dates, etc.

After making your selection, in the “Properties” dialog box, under the “Voting and Tracking options”, click on the “Use voting button” check box. You can use the default button options (ie. yes/no) or customize them with your own text. Make sure to use semicolons to separate button names. The sender will be able to see all the responses in a table by clicking on the response messages and clicking on “The sender responded” line in the message header and select the “View voting responses” option.

We here at DTA hope you feel comfortable with using Outlook tools. It is our desire to bring you the best advice possible to effectively and efficiently use your desktop features so you can focus on your work. Subscribe to our blog to receive weekly Desktop tips. If you’re looking for more in-depth training check out our upcoming instructor-led, live online trainings.

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