6 Features to Make you More Productive in Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a software which is running on almost every computer.  It is a valuable tool that is used by many on a daily basis. You need it whether you are a professional, a retiree or a student.

When Microsoft releases new versions of Office, it always comes with new and improved features.  So, if you want to take full advantage of this tool it is important that you stay up-to-date and familiarize yourself with its many new features.

Here’s a list of some good tools that I think you will find very useful.

1. The Smart Lookup Feature:

This is a feature which makes it easier to find facts through search engines.  This feature is available in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This will launch a pane, which is powered by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Articles, definitions, images etc. will appear in the pane.

  1. Select the portion of text you want to look up.
  2. Right Click, Select “Smart Lookup” or go to Review > Smart Lookup  for Office 2016
  3. Right Click , select “Search with Bingfor Office 2013

2. Helping you with Recent Documents:

  • Click File > Open > Recent Documents

This feature is turned on by default, but you can turn it off, turn it back on, or adjust the number of files that it displays. So, if you want to change the number of files that appear in the list of recently used files:

Directions for Word 2016

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Options.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Under Display, in the Show this number of Recent Documents list, click the number of files that you want to display.

Directions for Word 2013

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced
  2. Make changes desired under “Display
  3. Click okay

3. The ‘Tell Me’ Feature: (in Office 2016)

You’ll notice a text box on the ribbon in Office 2016 that says ‘Tell me what you want to do.’ This is a text field where you can enter words and phrases about what you want to do next and quickly get to features you want to use or actions you want to perform. You can also use Tell Me to find help about what you’re looking for, or to use Smart Lookup to research or define the term you entered.

4. Using Date Fields:

Microsoft Office offers the feature of adding the latest date and time to the document. When you use the document on any other date, then you can put the current time and date on it. It only takes seconds. It is possible that you may forget to update the date and time, so Word offers a feature which helps in updating it automatically.

  1. Click in the document where you want to insert the date.
  2. Click Insert > Date and Time.
  3. Choose the correct format.
  4. Check the box: Update Automatically (optional).
  5. Click OK.


5.  Creating Graphs from Tables is as Easy as 123:

If the document that you are writing has a lot tables in it and you need to create graphs, the new Word feature has made it easier to convert the tables into graphs.

  1. Select the table to be converted.
  2. Click on Insert > Chart
  3. Select the chart type and click OK

6. Translation Options:

You can translate the document into different languages by using the translate feature.  You can translate just a word or as many sentences as needed.

  1. Right Click > Translate
  2. Select the Language of choice in the Research window
  3. Click Insert and the text you selected will be translated.

These are just a few of the many features offered in Microsoft Office.  I hope they are helpful!

Manzoor, Adnan. ” 7 Things You Should Know About Microsoft Office to Make Work Easier” Lifehack June 2017

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Do you Know These Double-click Tricks in Excel?

Do you know these Double-click Tricks in Excel?

Most of us think of mastering formulas, learning macros and being super good with charts when we think of being productive with spreadsheets. But often learning simple stuff like keyboard shortcuts, using mouse and working with menus and ribbons can be a huge productivity booster for us.

Double Click on the Office Button / Logo to Close Excel



This is simple. Displays “do you want to save…” dialog if the workbook is not saved.

Adjust column widths by selecting multiple columns and double clicking on the separators





This is my favorite. You can use the same trick to adjust row heights too.

Double-click in the corner, just above scroll-bar to include a split





It is surprising that very few people know about split and freeze panes feature in excel. I have often seen colleagues struggling to freeze top row of a large workbook or include a split so that they can see 2 different things at a time.

You can also create a vertical split by clicking on the little bar shape next to horizontal scroll-bar near bottom right corner of the excel window.

(If you are wondering where the split would be created, it will be created at selected cell’s row (or column))

Double click on ribbon menu names to collapse ribbon to get more space





In MS Office 2007 you can double click on the ribbon menus to collapse the ribbon to one line. In Excel 2003, when you double click on the empty space in the toolbar area, it opens up the “customize” window (same as Menu > tools > customize)

Auto-fill a series of cells with data or formulas by just double clicking





I have saved countless minutes ever since I learned this little trick. Lets say you have a table where in one column you have some data and in the next you have written a formula in the first row. Now how would you copy the formula and paste it in all cells in that column?

Copy the formula (ctrl+c), select all cells, paste the formula.

Well, no more. Just select the formula in first cell, double click in the bottom right corner and see the magic.

The trick works for formulas, auto-fills (of numbers, dates, what not) as long as the adjacent column has data.

Jump to last row / column in table with double-click





Just select any cell in the table and double click on the cell-border in the direction you want to go. See the screencast.

Lock a particular feature and reuse them with double-click








You can lock any repeatable feature (like format painter, drawing connectors, shapes etc.) by just double clicking on the icon (in Excel 2007 this works for format painter, but for drawing shapes you need to right click and select lock drawing mode). This can save you a ton of time when you need to repeat same action several times.

Chandoo. “Do you know Double-click Tricks in Excel?” Excel Howtos, Learn Excel June 2009

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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Unsubscribing from Spam Only Makes It Worse

The last time I checked my spam folder, I noticed a few messages included an unsubscribe link. Well that’s nice, I thought. Maybe spammers realize that some people will never respond, so they want to trim their lists for efficiency. I clicked “unsubscribe.” That was a mistake.

While “legit companies” honor unsubscribe requests, says the McAfee Labs blog, “shady” ones just use the unsubscribe buttons to confirm your address and send you more spam. Sophos blogger Alan Zeichick says that clicking unsubscribe tells the spammer you opened their email, possibly because you were interested or suspected it was real. By visiting the spammer’s fake unsubscribe page, you’re giving them your browser info and IP address, and even opening yourself up to malware attacks.

If an email looks like truly shady spam (and not just a newsletter you’re sick of reading), don’t click any links. Just mark it as spam and move on.

Douglas, Nick. “Unsubscribing from Spam Only Makes It Worse” Lifehacker June 2017

Posted in: E-mail, Security

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Six Google Search Tips to Find Anything Faster

Start searching smarter.

Google is the go-to destination when you need to find something on the web—the verb “to google” even made it into the dictionary.  But while everyone’s heard of the popular search engine, very few know how to make the most of it.

Behind the unassuming Google interface, you’ll find a host of useful tricks to help you zero in on what exactly you want to find. Looking for an obscure recipe or rare photo?  Read on to start using Google like an expert.

Include and exclude keywords

When you type a bunch of search terms into Google, it’s smart enough to understand—more or less—what you want.  However, the search engine sometimes provides results that match most of, but not all, of the words you typed. To be more specific, you can point out which keywords are the most important: Put a plus symbol (+) in front of words you want to force Google to include. What if the results you want get pushed off the page by similar, but irrelevant, articles?  There’s an easy fix: Just add a minus symbol (-) in front of keywords that you don’t want to see.

Google has to match any word preceded by a plus, and exclude any word preceded by a minus. Keywords that lack a preceding symbol are considered important but not essential.  For example, search for “+Chicago +coffee -starbucks” to make sure you see results for non-Starbucks coffee shops in Chicago. Running that search without the symbols would bring up a very different list of results.  Search for “dolphins -miami -football,” meanwhile, to look up the aquatic mammals without seeing any mention of the football team.

While we’re talking about symbols, don’t forget quotation marks.  Put these around a specific phrase you want to find. For example, if you want to look up the Walt Whitman poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” you don’t want articles about astronomers with hearing problems.  So put the title in quotation marks to ensure more specific results.

Search within websites

One of the most useful Google tricks to learn is the site-specific search: Just add “site:url” (replacing the “url” part with the relevant website) to the end of your search query to look on one particular site.

For example, let’s say you want to find what Popular Science has written about frogs.  Simply go to the Google homepage and search for “frogs”  The results will only include pages from the specified site, and Google will apply its usual weighting, so you’ll see the most relevant hits (based on factors like how many other sites link to a page, its timeliness, and so on) first. When you need to find something on a website, then this trick often works better than a site’s own built-in search option. Try combining it with the keyword manipulations we mentioned above to narrow down your results even further.

Google also lets you search within a top-level domain. Say you’re trying to look up technical scientific information—you’ll probably find more reliable results on a university or government website than you might see on a random blog. So add “” to your search query to limit results to university websites.  Or if you want, say, NASA’s take on space information, add “”

Limit the time period


Google has been indexing the web for a long time now.  While that’s great for pulling up stuff from decades past, it also makes it more difficult for searchers to cut through the noise to find the exact site or page that they’re after. Searching within a specific time period can help with that.

After you’ve run a search on the main Google search engine, click Tools and then the Any time drop-down menu to limit the results to more recent hits.  This tweak is helpful for focusing on very recent stories.

On the other hand, if you want to look for archived news that has since been replaced by more current stories, then you might want to specify a date range.  Choose Custom range, and you get to specify a start and end date.

 Find Files

Discover PDFs, spreadsheets, and more.

Google’s search results mainly concentrate on webpages, but it also indexes publicly available files.  You can look for them using a “filetype:” command at the end of your normal query.

So looking for “report filetype:pdf” will return PDFs with “report” in the title.  Try “report filetype:xlsx” to do the same for Excel spreadsheets. This also lets you search for images, though Google already has a handy image search tool.

Remember, this will only work for publicly available documents and files uploaded to the web. You’re not going to suddenly come across some secret government files…or at least we hope not.

Advanced Search

These tricks are great for getting started, but if you really want to get specific, you should take advantage of Google’s more specialized search options. On any Google search results page, click Settings from the toolbar at the top, and then choose Advanced search. The subsequent page will give you a host of extra ways to focus your searches, from looking at a given region to finding images you have the right to reuse.

Some of the operators, such as specific phrases, will be familiar by now. But the extra region and language options can be helpful. By default, Google prioritizes hits from the country or continent where you’re currently located, so you should use these settings to get better results for the rest of the world.

The advanced search page is also worth visiting if you forget one of the tricks we’ve mentioned above, like searching on a certain site or excluding keywords—or doing both at the same time. Once you’ve typed in all your parameters, click Advanced Search to see what you can find.

Get personal

Want to sift through the emails and files you’ve stored in Gmail or Google Drive? You don’t have to visit those apps—Google will let you search through your personal accounts from the main search engine page. However, this will only work if whatever you’re looking for is in a Google app and you’re signed into your Google account. So don’t worry: Your emails won’t pop up when somebody else googles you from a strange computer.

For example, type “my flights” into the Google search box to see information on flights you’ve previously booked. “My trips” will reveal upcoming trips you’re taking. (Side note: Google will pull this data from your Gmail account, so if you didn’t receive a confirmation email, you won’t see trip information.) You can look through your Google Photos too—try searching “my photos of…” with the name of one of your contacts.

Recently, Google has been making personal searches a more prominent feature. You can find a dedicated Personal tab at the top of the results page, alongside the usual News, Images, and Videos ones. It’s a one-stop searching shop for all the stuff you’ve stored in Google’s various services.

Nield, David. “Six Google search tips to find anything faster” Popular Science June 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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‘Smishing’ Is Internet Scammers’ New Favorite Trick. Here’s How to Avoid It

Internet scam artists are moving beyond your email inbox and targeting your text messages instead. With this new scam, called “smishing,” scammers are trying to get you to send them your personal information that could help them access your bank account or other online profiles.  Here’s what you should know.

What are smishing scams?
“Smishing” scams are so named because they’re like a phishing email, except sent via SMS, the technology underlying the typical text message. They often prey on people’s panic or sense of urgency, according to Jason Hong, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. For example, one fraudulent message might appear to be a warning from your bank about an unauthorized charge.

“That’s one of the main ways they try to trick you,” says Hong. “There’s an urgency to the message. There’s something that needs your attention right now.”

How can you avoid smishing scams?
Hong says you should make sure to use different passwords for everything from your bank’s website and social media apps to your email account. Two-factor authentication and password managers like Dashlane and 1Password can also be useful. And in the hypothetical case outlined above, you should call you bank or credit card company directly to verify the alert, rather than clicking any links in suspicious text messages.

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to block smishing messages entirely, says Steve Wicker, a computer engineering professor at Cornell University. Wicker says the best course of action is to be vigilant for suspicious text messages, just like you should watch out for strange emails. One tip: Look out for text messages from phone numbers that clearly appear fake or suspicious.

Another warning: Wicker says some scammers may be able to make their messages look like they’re coming from a person you know and trust. So if you get a weird message from a friend, it’s a good idea to call them back on the phone and check if they actually sent the text.

Why are scammers using smishing scams?
Scammers could have one of several motives, Hong says. They could be trying to steal a victim’s identity, to access their bank account, or to blackmail them into giving out personal or company secrets.

“That’s where the money is,” Hong added. “People are getting more suspicious of emails. Companies like Google and Yahoo are getting better at detecting fake accounts and shutting them down. So the next easiest thing for [a scammer] to do is to go to mobile.”

Is smishing a new phenomenon?
Smishing scams have been around since as early as 2008, but experts say they are becoming more prevalent. They’re also popping up on all sorts of messaging apps, not just simple text messages.

“This is impacting all systems in the mobile arena, it’s not just limited to one system,” says William Beer, who works on cybersecurity matters for professional services firm EY, previously known as Ernst & Young. “There’s never 100% security on any app, whether they be desktop or mobile.”

Segarra, Lisa Marie. “‘Smishing’ Is Internet Scammers’ New Favorite Trick. Here’s How to Avoid It” Fortune, Security July 2017

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Security

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If You Have a Twitter Account, Change These Privacy Settings Now

Twitter is changing its privacy policy to give advertisers more information about you. Learn what settings you need to change to keep your data private.

Twitter announced it has updated its privacy policy “to further improve and personalize our services, connecting you with the stories, brands and organic content you care about most.” Of course, the way you get connected to such personalization is by allowing Twitter to share more information with advertisers about you and your browsing habits. The changes will go into effect on June 18. You’ll be opted into these changes, but Twitter has expanded privacy settings that give you greater control and let you stop Twitter from sharing your information.

What’s changing?

There are three big changes to Twitter’s privacy policy:

1. Web data stored longer

Twitter uses cookies to store information about you when you visit a site that has an embedded tweet or Twitter share button. Currently, it stores this information for 10 days but starting on June 18, it will keep this data for 30 days.

2. More data sharing

In addition to storing web data longer, Twitter is changing how it shares this data with its partners (read: advertisers). The wording is a bit vague but the changes certainly aren’t being made to share less of your data: “We’ve updated how we share non-personal, aggregated and device-level data, including through some select partnership agreements that allow the data to be linked to your name, email, or other personal information — but only when you give your consent to those partners.”

3. No more Do Not Track

Twitter is no longer supporting Do Not Track, which you could enable in most browsers to stop advertisers from tracking your browsing history. Twitter states that despite its early support “an industry-standard approach to Do Not Track did not materialize.”

Which privacy settings should I change?

The privacy policy changes don’t take effect until next month but you can opt out now using the Twitter app or website. To do so, head to your account page, open Settings and go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Personalization and data. At the top of this page is an option to disable all personalization and data settings; on the Twitter website, click the Disable all button, and on the mobile app, tap the toggle switch at the top. There are granular personalization controls below. I found that I needed to disable the Personalization and data setting on both the Web and the app, so be sure to check both.

Elliot, Matt. “If you have a Twitter account, change these privacy settings now” CNET May 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Should You Use Facebook or Google to Log In to Other Sites?

We’re all used to seeing “Log in with Facebook” or “Log in with Google” at sites around the Internet — or less frequently, an offer to log in with Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. It’s a common option at news sites like and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, music streaming services such as Spotify and tens of thousands of other online retailers, apps and games.

Logging in with a main account whose credentials you easily remember saves you the trouble of going through yet another laborious account creation and memorizing dozens of passwords. It allows you to easily post about something you’ve just read or bought.

But what exactly are you signing up for?

Requesting your data

Logging in to a website using a service such as Facebook or Google allows the website to make a request for data about you. Facebook and LinkedIn have quite a lot of data available for request: your birthday, friends list, email address, employment, colleges attended, photos and information that your friends have posted about you (for example, tagged photos). Other services like Twitter don’t possess the same level of personal data about its users and aren’t able to turn over as much information.

The exact data that the website is requesting pops up in a window asking for permission. Saying yes to that request adds one more tiny bridge between the virtual islands of your online self.

This seemingly small agreement can carry larger repercussions. Linking two or more sites allows companies to collect more data, building an increasingly rounded profile about you. Allowing one account to have access to others means that if the least secure account is hacked, the rest could also be compromised.

Facebook and Google are by far the two most frequently used services for logging in to other sites. Facebook snared 62% of all social log-ins across the tens of thousands of sites that support it (as of the end of 2015); Google is used 24% of the time according to Gigya, a customer identity management company.

Social networks want to be a trusted source for verifying your identify. In fact, at the Facebook developers conference this year, the company announced a service called Delegated Account Recovery, which would let you use Facebook to verify your identity if you forget your password on an app or website.

Yet social networks don’t inherently have value as a trusted source of identity. Privacy is not the main concern of a social network; like any for-profit company, its focus is on monetizing its product.

We are the product. Take Facebook; according the eMarketer, Facebook is expected to generate $16.33 billion in net digital ad revenue in the U.S. market this year and Google is expected to generate $5.24 billion in display ads in the U.S.

What happens to your data

The data held by social platforms and service providers like Google covers your habits and preferences. Facebook Like buttons littered throughout the Internet bounce back data about products or articles you’ve liked, while the Facebook Open Graph platform for other sites comes with plug-ins that collect data such as which of your friends already use a particular website or what you do while on the site.

In response to privacy concerns, Facebook does allow you to log in to third-party apps without having to give permission to share personal details like your name, email, birthday and so forth. Make sure you sever the connection for apps you’re not longer using. You can do that by going to Facebook Settings (click on the down arrow next to the question mark in the upper right) and select Apps. On that page you can click on any app and see the information the app has access to and can change those access privileges.

Stokes, Natasha. “Should You Use Faceook or Google to Log In to Other Sites?” Techlicious May 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Excellent Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

It seems like every office job needs at least passable spreadsheet skills. And, in an increasingly competitive job market, passing isn’t enough anymore. People who regularly need the software to get their work done need to become power users. That means going beyond simple tricks on web apps like Google Sheets and on to advanced techniques in the best spreadsheet application out there: Microsoft Excel. There are so many things you can learn with Excel that it would take hours or days to learn and weeks to master. But, to start you off, here are some of the best of the best Excel shortcuts that will impress prospective and actual employers, both in the form of keyboard commands and practical advice for getting the most out of the Microsoft program.

1. Use shortcuts to quickly format values

Ever need to change the format of a number or, more to the point, a set of numbers? By using “Ctrl + Shift + !” you make the numbers in the selected cells display two decimal points. Meanwhile, “Ctrl + Shift + $” adds a dollar sign and “Ctrl + Shift + %” adds a percentage sign. Those tricks have the potential to save you a huge amount of time, if used effectively.

2. Generate random values with RAND

Sometimes when using a spreadsheet you need a random number to use as a sample, often when calculated odds and percentages. And I mean entirely random, which something you picked yourself wouldn’t be. By entering “RAND() a number between 0 and 1 which no one could guess will be generated. But be warned: new values are generated every time the workbook recalculates.

3. Jump from worksheet to worksheet

A simple one a lot of people don’t know. Go from one worksheet to another immediately with either the command “Ctrl + PgDn” or the command “Ctrl + PgUp”.

4. Double click to copy down

Instead of holding and dragging the mouse down to copy a formula or value for your data set, you can just double click the box at the bottom right-hand corner of the cell.

5. Lock cells with F4

There are some numbers that you always need to stay the same, no matter what else changes with your spreadsheet. To make sure those key values aren’t accidentally changed, click on the cells you want to remain constant and hit the F4 key. If you continue hitting F4 you’ll get more options. Those are locking the cell, locking the row number, locking the collar column letter, and removing the lock.

6. Don’t overly obsess over Excel shortcuts

The last of the Excel shortcuts is, ironically enough, to stop using so many shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts, specifically. They can be great timesavers, for sure, but it’s common for an Excel user to want to execute a specific action but not know the shortcut for it. They’ll then waste a substantial amount of time searching for how to do it on the internet when their time would probably be better served doing it the old-fashioned way, cell by cell. If you search for a random Excel shortcut in the middle of working on a sheet, there’s no way you’re going to remember it the next time the opportunity comes up to make use of it. The better strategy is to dedicate some time to a manual or article like this one that spotlights keyboard shortcuts. By testing out the Excel shortcuts as you read about them, they’re more likely to stick in your brain then when you’re doing a one-off action. A popular problem with life hacks is to spend so much time life hacking that you actual waste it overall. Don’t let that happen to you.

O’Keefe, Matt. “Excellent Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know” Lifehack June 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to quickly scan a document to your Dropbox account with Android

For a while now, iOS devices have had the ability to scan files directly to their associated Dropbox cloud accounts. This means you could point your mobile device to a receipt, a file, a whiteboard, or whatever it is you need to get quickly scanned and uploaded and save it directly to your Dropbox account. The new feature is incredibly useful and makes working on the go even more efficient. Snap a shot of whatever it is you need to quickly upload and then save it, as either a .pdf or .jpg file, to your Dropbox account. This is far more efficient than snapping a photo of something and then manually uploading (or sharing) the photo to your cloud account.

The one caveat to this feature is that it is not optical character recognition (OCR). This snaps a photo of the subject and then saves it as either a .pdf or .jpg file (your choice). From within your Dropbox account, you can share and/or comment on the file (for collaboration purposes). Even without OCR capabilities, the feature adds something the Android Dropbox mobile client has needed for some time.

Let’s see how this new scanning feature is used. The only requirement is that you have the latest release of Dropbox on your Android device (and be signed into your Dropbox account).

Scanning an image

The first thing you must have is an image to scan. The included scanner does a great job of capturing just about anything (with the one exception being computer screens). With your subject in hand (or on desk or wall, as it were), open up the Dropbox app and tap the + button. From the resulting menu (Figure A), tap Scan document.

If this is the first time you’ve attempted to scan a document into Dropbox, you will be asked to allow the app access to the camera and your files. Do this, or the scanning will not work. Once you tap Scan document, the scanner will open. Center the screen on the subject and hold the device still (it’s quite sensitive). You will see a blue square hop about the screen (Figure B), attempting to focus on the area to be scanned.

Once the blue lines are square (this is important as it can affect the perspective, and hence the legibility, of the final image), tap the camera button to snap the image. Once the image is captured, you can adjust, rotate, or arrange the image or add a new page to the scan (Figure C).

I highly recommend (at least) tapping the Adjust button and then, in the resulting window (Figure D), adjusting the area to be saved for the scan, as well as change the color to Whiteboard (as it seems to result in the clearest scans).

Once the scan meets your needs, tap the checkmark. Back in the Scan preview window, tap the right-pointing arrow, give the scan a name, select the file type (Figure E), select the subfolder (optional) to hold the file, and tap the checkmark.

That’s it. The scan will now appear in your Dropbox account. You can share it for collaboration or work with it later.

Mobility made easier

Your mobile office just got a bit more efficient. With the likes of Dropbox, mobility is getting easier and easier to manage with your cloud account. Although this new (to Android) scanning feature doesn’t include OCR, it’s still a very welcome addition.

Wallen, Jack. “How to quickly scan a document to your Dropbox account with Android” TechRepublic May 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Email

How can you clear up the clutter in your Outlook email folders? Here are some tips and tricks.

Are your Microsoft Outlook email folders overflowing with hundreds or thousands of unorganized messages? Are you unsure what to do with a new email when it arrives, thereby cluttering up your inbox? That’s a common malady, but one for which there is a remedy, or rather several remedies. By following some helpful tips and tricks, you can make your Outlook inbox much more manageable.

In this article, we’ll review the following skills:

  • You can create Quick Steps that can put new email in the right folders at the click of a button.
  • You can create rules that determine what happens with a new email based on subject line, sender, and other criteria.
  • You can clean up a conversation thread so that extraneous and redundant messages are deleted or moved.
  • You can archive your older messages so they’re forgotten but not gone.

Let’s look at each of the tips and tricks to see how you can better organize your mail in Microsoft Outlook.

A Quick Note: When I say Microsoft Outlook, I’m talking about the full email client that’s part of Microsoft Office, not the online email service. Also, I’m using Outlook 2016 through the article, but the tips will work in Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010 as well.


How To Create Quick Steps

Quick Steps enable you to easily file emails in certain folders and perform other actions by simply clicking on a button. I use Quick Steps to send new emails that I’ve read to specific work folders and personal folders so they don’t clutter up my inbox. Here’s how to create a Quick Step.

At the top of your Outlook screen, make sure the Home toolbar is selected. You should see the Quick Steps group in the middle of the toolbar. Some Quick Steps are already built into Outlook, and you may find those useful. But let’s say we want to create a Quick Step that moves all email for your Netflix subscription into a folder called Netflix. Click on the Create New command in the Quick Steps section. Name it and then select an action, such as moving the message to the Netflix folder. Click on the Add Action button.

You’ll see the new step you just created in the Quick Step section. Now click on an email from Netflix and then click on the new Quick Step. Your email is transported to the Netflix folder. You can create multiple Quick Steps for different messages and tasks to make it easier to file new messages.

How to Create Rules

Rules place your email messages into the right folders but before you actually read them. As such, rules may be useful for organizing messages that you plan to read at a later day and don’t want them crowding your inbox in the meantime.

Let’s use the same Netflix example. Let’s say you don’t need to read the Netflix messages hitting your inbox and want to place them in the correct folder right off the bat. Click on one of the messages from Netflix. Then click on the down arrow under the Rules button on the Home toolbar and click on the command to Create Rule. In the Create Rule window, click on the checkmark for the Sender’s address. The click on the checkmark for the “Move the item to folder” command and select the Netflix folder. Click OK. Now any message you receive from that address will automatically be placed in the Netflix folder. You can create additional rules to file away other types of messages.

How to Clean Up a Conversation Thread

You probably get into long conversation threads sometimes where all the previous emails in the thread are quoted in each new message. That can result in plenty of messages with duplicate and redundant information. You can tell Outlook to clean up such a conversation thread, removing the older and unnecessary messages and leaving you with the latest version quoting the entire thread.

To give this a shot, click on an email that’s part of a conversation thread. In the Delete group on the Home toolbar, click on the button for Clean up and then click on the command to Clean Up Conversation.

A message pops up telling you that “All redundant messages in this conversation will be moved to the ‘Deleted Items’ folder.” Click on the Settings button on the message if you wish to tweak the options for this feature.

At the Clean Up Conversation section in the Outlook Options window, you can change the folder to which the redundant messages are sent. You can tell Outlook not to move unread, categorized, and flagged messages. Click OK to close the Options window. Then click the Clean Up button on the “Clean Up Conversation” message. Outlook will tell you if any messages were moved. You can then open the Deleted Items folder to review your redundant messages.

How to Archive Older Messages

Do you have messages that are many years old? If so, do you ever still read them? If not, but you don’t want to delete them, you can archive them. An archive is a separate PST file, or Outlook Data File (a file that stores your messages and other content). By placing such messages in an archive file, they’re removed from your current Outlook folders but still available in the archive should you ever need to refer to them.

You can tell Outlook to automatically and periodically archive older messages, or you can manually send messages to an archive. To automatically have older messages archived, click on the File menu and then select Options. Click on the Advanced category. Under AutoArchive, click on AutoArchive Settings.

Click on the checkmark to Run AutoArchive if it’s not already checked. Select how often AutoArchive should run by setting the number of days. Click on any of the other options you wish to enable. Then make sure the option to “Move old items to” is set for a specific archive file in the folder where you store your main Outlook PST file. This should automatically be selected for you, but you’ll still want to double check. Click OK to close this window.

Manually archiving older messages creates a folder called Archive in your current mailbox. This way, the messages don’t crowd your other folders but are easily accessible. To manually archive message, select the message you wish to archive. Right-click on them and select Archive from the popup menu.

Outlook asks if you want it to create an archive folder or use an existing folder. Select the option to create an archive folder. Outlook creates a folder called Archive and moves your selected messages to it. In the future, you can select messages, click on the Archive command, and those messages will be moved to the Archive folder.

Whitney, Lance. “Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Email” Windows Secrets May 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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