Microsoft Outlook - 5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Outlook

You might use Outlook every day, but are you using it as efficiently as you could be? Here are 5 tricks to help you get the most out of Outlook.

1. Use rules to filter & sort emails

Filtering and sorting emails manually in Outlook can be a very time-consuming task. Luckily, to save time, you can set up rules, which are policies that perform specific actions when certain criteria are met. Here's how to do it.

To set up a new rule, we'll use some of the rules templates that Outlook makes available to us. To do this:

  • Click on File > Manage Rules & Alerts.
  • Head over to the Rules tab and then select New Rule.
  • Next, you're going to want to select a template. You have a lot of different options here, but for this example, we're going to select Move messages from someone to a folder. This means that every time we receive a message from our chosen sender, that message will automatically be routed to the folder we specify.
  • So click Next, and then make sure the “from people or public group” box is checked at the top.
  • You'll notice that the "people or public group" text in the lower window is a clickable link. Click on that and select the person you want to apply the rule to and then click OK.
  • Then click on the "specified" folder link and choose where you want that email to be routed. For this example, we picked a Video Production folder.
  • In the next step, just leave "Stop processing more rules" and "Move it to the specified folder" checked and hit Next. (You can also apply exceptions to the rule which can be handy in more complex cases, but we don't need to worry about setting up exceptions today.)
  • Name your rule, and then you have the option of running the rule on messages already in your inbox or populating the rule across accounts, and then you can hit Finish to put it into action. Any messages sent from that account will now go directly to our Video Production folder.

To create a rule without using the wizard:

  • Click on the Rules button at the top of your screen. For instance, you can create a rule to always move messages from this email address, or those addressed TO your address to a specified box. You can also create a rule from scratch.
  • Clicking "Create Rule" will auto-populate your new rule based on some of the information in the email you had selected when you hit the button, but you can edit this, or click on advanced options to return to the more in-depth rule menu you saw earlier.

2. Use Outlook Sniffer to automatically process meeting requests

Sniffer might be a funny name, but it's a useful feature in Outlook. It automatically processes certain kinds of email messages like meeting requests and polls, and it can save you lots of time.

If you're taking a poll, you can tally up the votes yourself, but why not let Sniffer automatically process the responses for you? For example, if you send out a poll that includes voting buttons, it might look like this:

If you enable Sniffer, it will automatically tally up the replies for you:

To enable Sniffer:

  • Head to the File menu > Options.
  • From here, head to the Mail options, and then scroll down until you find the Tracking section.
  • This is where you will see the option "Automatically process meeting requests and responses to meeting requests and polls." If this is checked, Sniffer will automatically do its job for you. If you uncheck this box, you will have to manually track this kind of information instead, which is a much more time-consuming process.

  • 3. Have replies automatically go to your assistant

    Outlook has a handy feature that allows you to designate a different email address for replies to be sent to. Here's how to set it up.

    Typically, when you send an email and someone replies to it, the reply is going to come right back into the same inbox that it was sent from. But sometimes, you might want replies to go to a different address. For instance, you might like to send initial messages from certain email addresses, but might want replies to go to an assistant. So in that case, you need to adjust the reply-to field in Outlook.

  • Click on the File menu, and then click on Info.
  • Now, click on the Account Settings button at the top of this screen, and then select Account Settings again at the next level down.
  • From the E-mail tab, which should be the tab that opens by default, select the email account that you wish to change your reply:to setting for and click on the Change button.
  • From here, click on More Settings.
  • Youll see a text box marked Reply E-mail. Here, you can set the email address that you want replies to be sent to. Then hit Finish and close.

  • 4. Find important emails faster

    If you're a heavy Outlook user, there's a good chance that you've got hundreds, if not thousands, of emails floating around your mailboxes at any given time. Wading through through the noise to find specific messages can be difficult. Here are a few tricks of searching in Outlook, so that you can find what you need-fast.

    Ctrl + E: Access the search bar

    This keyboard shortcut alone can save you time when hunting down an email. Just hit CTRL + E to automatically move your cursor to the search bar.

    Find an email with a specific term

    Next, let's assume that you're doing a very easy search - you probably already know how to do this. If you're looking for emails that contain a specific term, like videos, you just enter videos in the search bar here and execute your search.

    Find emails from a specific person

    Just type from: and the name that you're looking for, and all emails from that person will appear in my list.

    Find emails from within a specific time frame

    If you're just looking for something within a specific time window, you can specify that in the search bar. Just type from: and then the sender, followed by received: this week. Then, only messages sent this week will be returned in the search.

    Find a specific attachment

    This trick is really helpful if you're looking for a specific attachment that someone sent you. This is because by adding in the term has attachment: yes, you can weed out all the emails that don't have attachments, allowing you to find exactly what you're looking for.

    5. Use add-ins

    You can do a lot with Outlook add-ins, like scheduling meetings at Starbucks, setting Uber ride reminders, and scheduling emails to send later. Here are three helpful add-ins that can help you do all of the above.

    Add-ins are very easy to install. All you have to do is click on the Home tab and then go to the Store icon on the ribbon. From here, you can navigate through the available add-ins, and then when you find one that you're interested in, just click the slider to add or purchase the add in.


    If you like to have meetings at coffee shops, the Starbucks add-in is for you. It makes it super easy to schedule meetings at-where else?-your local Starbucks. When you install the Starbucks add-in, you'll notice that there is a "Meet at Starbucks" option on your ribbon. Click on that, and you can search for your client's favorite Starbucks and schedule your meeting there.

    The Starbucks add-in also makes it easy to send Starbucks eGiftcards. Simply click on the Reply with eGift button and you can send out a gift card to show appreciation for a client or for a job well done by an employee.


    The Uber add-in is great for people who prefer to use the ride service to conveniently commute to meetings and events. So when you go to set up a meeting request that you plan on taking an Uber to, just click on the Office add-ins button and choose the Uber add-in. Here, you can set a reminder to catch your Uber on your way to the meeting, helping make sure that you're always arriving on time.


    Boomerang is a full-on productivity powerhouse. With Boomerang, you can schedule email to send at a later time. You can also have Boomerang remind you in a set number of days if you haven't received a reply, and you can request read receipts and track clicks in the email.

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