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Outlook organization tips: 5 ways to tame the email pile

Julie Sartain | Sept. 30, 2014
Adopting these five simple practices will make diving into your inbox less painful--and far less time consuming.

4. To use this task--continuing with our Vendors example--click on an email sent by a vendor, and then click Vendors from the list. The email is marked as read and moved to your Vendors folder, all in one simple step. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut key you defined, but note that the keyboard shortcuts only work on the number keys above the letters. It does not recognize the numbers on the numeric keypad.

4. Email templates

How often have you sent the exact same email to dozens (or more) people with nothing changed except the recipient's name and email address? Email templates make this task a snap.

1. Locate one of these form letter-type emails in your Sent folder. Forward it to yourself and edit out all the custom information such as the recipient's name, email address, company, etc. Then click File > Save As, enter a filename, and select Outlook Template as the file format.

2. To use/open the template: From the File tab's "New" group, choose New Items > More Items > Choose Form, and then click the down-arrow to view the list of forms. Select User Templates in file fystem, then choose your saved email template from the list and click Open. Add a custom salutation, insert an email address, and simply click Send.

5. Conditional formatting rules

This handy feature lets you create rules for conditional formatting. Wait, what?

Basically, it's just a few customized attributes that you can automatically add to incoming emails to make them stand out. For example, you can change the font attributes--underline, bold, italic (bold and italic are font styles of specific typefaces)--and the colors based on a rule (or condition) that you define in the "Conditional Formatting" section of Advanced View Settings.

1. From the File tab's "Current View" group, choose View Settings. Click the Conditional Formatting button then, in the Conditional Formatting dialog box, click the Add button and enter a descriptive name for what this rule/condition does. I entered "Editor" in the example shown above because I want the emails from my editor to really stand out and grab my attention. (Woohoo!--Ed.)

2. Click the Font button to define the format for the typeface; i.e., font name, color, and attribute such as Underline or Strikeout (for bold and italic, choose a font that offers these attributes as part of the typeface). Click OK when you're done.

3. Next, click the Condition button and define a condition; for example, you can choose a specific word (or words) in the email or subject line, an email address From or To, where your email address appears in the email (To, From, CC, etc.), and/or a general time or date (today, yesterday, last week, last month, etc.). Again click OK when you're done.

 

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