How to Use Outlook: 23 Time-Saving Tips

Save Time in Outlook Every Day

Counting the milliseconds saved now that you know how to use Outlook faster. © Julian Lim; CC BY 2.0 license

Who doesn't feel the need to do more in less time? If you spend much of your day handling email, you'll be happy to hear that there are plenty of ways to use Outlook more efficiently. 

Change defaults to what you usually prefer and use; make use of a keyboard shortcut or two; set up filters for automation; make sure Outlook itself runs at maximum speed, and your time in Outlook will be spent well.

Check out the following tips and secrets, and you'll be well on your way to reclaiming a little of your time.

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File Messages With One Click

Businesswoman with laptop sitting at table in office
Not all folders here are virtual, but chances are those are faster for moving emails in Outlook. StockUnlimited

Do faster what you do so often. Find out how to set up Outlook so you can file emails to oft-used folders with a single click.

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Streamline Conversations

The Lonely Vacuum Of Space
Have your emails cleaned almost automatically. Flickr/JD Hancock

Why tolerate having email folders and your mind littered with oodles of messages that are quoted elsewhere anyway? Find out how to use Outlook for cleaning up automatically. It can move or delete redundant emails all on its own.

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Resend Emails

Resend an email in Outlook to reuse its content, subject or recipients instead of starting with a blank screen.

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Keep Outlook Files Small and Snappy

If you want your Outlook to be fast and snappy, keep your main PST file size small. The PST file is where Outlook stores emails, contacts, calendars, and more. You can move old mail to a separate archive file, for example.

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Set Up an Out-of-Office or Vacation Auto-Reply

Have Outlook reply on your behalf to set expectations. This saves you time not only when you are catching up after vacations but every single workday as well.

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Move Email Quickly to Any Folder

Even if you did not set up one-click filing for a folder, Outlook lets you move emails to folders fast. You can transfer messages using nothing but the keyboard, for example, or a handy button on the ribbon. 

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Create and Use Email Templates

When you realize you are composing similar messages again and again, it's time to find out how to save one such email as a template in Outlook for future use. You will be able to send the same email—or a similar one—repeatedly with enviable speed.

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Change the Default Outlook Font Face and Size

If you think the font that Outlook uses when you compose a message or read an email is too wide, tall, small, tiny, big, or blue, change it. Find out how to set the precise font, font style, and color to use by default for emails in Outlook.

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Delete and Mute a Conversation

When you find yourself wading through emails and conversations that are totally irrelevant, Outlook can help. Find out how to use Outlook to delete an entire conversation and have Outlook remove future emails in the same thread automatically.

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Filter One Sender's Mail to a Specific Folder Automatically

Starting with any email, set up an Outlook filter that moves all future messages from the same sender to a specific folder automatically.

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Find Related Messages

Why are we talking about this right now? How did the discussion get started? What was it that I said? In Outlook, finding all related messages is easy. You won't have to rely on your memory.

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Set the Default Account for New Emails

Make sure new messages you compose start with the most likely From email address already selected in Outlook.

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Search Inside a Message

Want to find something in a long, unwieldy email? Find out how to use Outlook to search the text inside an email message.

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Schedule Emails to Be Delivered Later

You can instruct Outlook to send a message only on or after a certain date. This is particularly handy for regularly occurring events, such as a weekly meeting announcement.

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Undelete a Message Quickly

Oops! Did you just delete an email in Outlook that was not ready to head to the "Deleted Items" folder? No worries. Here is a simple way to get that email back in an instant.

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Set Up Distribution Lists

Create your own mailing lists in Outlook and send messages to groups of people easily without having to type in all the email addresses.

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Delete Attachments From Messages

Keep the message; lose its big size. Find out how to use Outlook to remove attached files—after you save them elsewhere—from email messages. You can trim your mailbox size considerably.

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Find All Mail From a Sender Quickly

Outlook locates all the messages from a particular sender and shows them to you quickly with this tip.

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Set Up an "All Mail" Folder

See all emails—sent, received, archived, and filed—for an account in one place in Outlook.

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Have Outlook Highlight Mail Sent to You Only

When you are the sole email recipient, the message is typically more important than if you're one of a dozen people. Find out how Outlook can highlight messages that have only you in the To: line.

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Edit Received Email Messages

Instead of forwarding emails to yourself or making a note elsewhere in Outlook or possibly outside it, you can edit any received email right in place.

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Automatically Cc: All Mail You Send

Outlook can send a copy of every message you compose to another email address.

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Expand Outlook With Time-Saving Add-Ons

Add-ons such as ClearContext, Nelson Email Organizer, Xobni, Lookeen, and Auto-Mate can improve your Outlook workflow significantly, by putting the right information near your fingertips, filtering intelligently, and automating repetitive tasks.