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Email Tips for Microsoft Outlook

Manage your inbox more effectively

Create signatures for frequent replies

If you type the same text over and over in some emails, try creating a signature that you can add to messages automatically. You can create a collection of signatures for the different types of emails that you write:

Go to the Tools menu and select Options

Click the Mail Format tab

Click Signatures

Click New

Enter your text and click Finish

Create as many signatures as you want

When you're done click OK twice

When you want to use a signature you'll find them in the Insert menu.

Advanced AutoComplete

When you enter something in the To: or Cc: boxes of a new message, Outlook will try to complete the address automatically as soon as it thinks it recognises what you're typing. If nothing is happening, you can give Outlook a hand by hitting Ctrl + K; that will pop up all the addresses that appear to fit what you've typed so far. You can then scroll down to select the right one.

Incidentally, if you stick with the standard AutoComplete, Outlook offers a list of names that match what you've typed so far - and you can remove outdated names from the list simply by using the up and down arrow keys, then pressing delete. This doesn't remove the name from your Contacts.

Write new messages more quickly

If you send a lot of emails regularly to one or more people, make life easier for yourself by creating a desktop shortcut to a new message form. Right click in a clear area of your Windows desktop, select New | Shortcut, and type 'mailto:' followed by an email address in the box.

Check your webmail too

Outlook can include web based email accounts like Hotmail alongside your other account(s). Go to Tools | Email Accounts | Add a new email account. On the next screen you'll see an option button for HTTP mail; click that and you'll be able to add your webmail account information.

The webmail account will appear alphabetically in your Folder List, with its own Inbox and Outbox.

Changing the subject

You might think that incoming email is more or less inviolate. You can't alter the sender's address, for instance. But you can alter the Subject: line - and let's face it, sometimes people don't use the most meaningful subject. Rewording it can help you sort and file your messages.

You can't alter the subject line in the preview pane. You'll have to double-click the message and open it before making your changes. When you try to close it, Outlook will ask if you want to save the changes. If that doesn't work, click on Edit and select Edit Message to make your changes.

You can also edit the body of the message, perhaps to delete unwanted content or to add some comments of your own.

Recall a message you've already sent

We've all hit the Send button before we meant to. You might think that you can't retrieve it and make good your blunder.

You might be right. But if the recipient uses Outlook, and if both of you use Microsoft Exchange Server, and if the message hasn't yet been opened by the recipient, you might just be lucky.

Open the Sent Items folder, find the message, and double-click to open it. Go to Actions | Recall This Message. If the message hasn't been read you'll be given the option to delete it or replace it with a new one.

But be a little wary when Outlook says that 'No recipients have reported reading this message'. Could be they don't use Outlook or Exchange Server - the recall feature isn't clever enough to test for those. In that case, you simply won't be able to recall.

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What next?

We've produced a number of printed How to... guides, showing you how to do new things with Microsoft software. You can download or order them free of charge from our download centre.

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