Organize E-Mail Using Microsoft's Outlook

By Kenny Williams

Each week I receive numerous e-mails. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to get to each one. As more e-mail piles up, that one that I urgently needed to reply to becomes one of many in a sea of unanswered messages. What I use to help organize my messages is outlook. Microsoftís Outlook offers one easy way out of the mess called Organize. This is not just a general rule to live by, but a specific Outlook command in the form of the Organize button. The Organize button can be found on the main Outlook toolbar. Toolbars change depending on what youíre viewing in Outlook, such as mail, contacts, or tasks, but Organize can be found in all of them, usually toward the right end. If you donít see it, right-click in the toolbar area and make sure the Standard box is checked. When you find the Organize button, click it to see what itís all about.

The Organize screen brings together various commands from throughout Outlook that one might use to tame an unruly horde of e-mail messages. After youíve looked through the options and perhaps chosen some that you like, another click of the Organize button makes the screen slide away. If only that big list of things to do would disappear so easily.

The Organize screen provides four major types of options, along with a few buttons in the upper right that change depending on what option youíve clicked. By default, youíll first see the Using Folders option. Organizing e-mail using folders typically means sorting e-mail into different folders based on criteria such as who the e-mail is from or to whom you sent it. The first folders trick merely moves messages you select from one folder to another. Thatís nice, but dragging and dropping in the main screen is just as easy. The second choice takes over some of the grunt work by moving messages automatically.

For instance, to move messages from readers to a special folder, I select the messages in the inbox. This persons name or e-mail alias then appears in the middle section of the rule I am creating. In the last drop-down menu I pick the folder where the messages should go. I Click the Create button. From now on, this persons e-mail will land in the specified folder rather than the inbox.

When I donít want to actually move messages around I can assign them colors instead. To do this Click Using Colors and change the drop-down lists as before to create a sentence that says what youíd like Outlook to do. Say you want to color messages from the boss in red so you wonít miss them in that inbox swarm. Click an e-mail message from the boss so it is selected in the inbox. In the Organize Using Colors screen, select From in the first drop-down menu. Then pick the color Red in the last drop-down menu. Click Apply Color when youíve got the scheme set up. This will put all e-mails from this person in red to help remind you to act on them quickly, kind of like the tall grass in the yard you have been needing to mow.

For more advanced color options, click the Advanced Formatting button in the right corner. The dialog box that appears will also let you select particular fonts based on criteria you specify. Any color rules youíve made will show up here, so look to them for an example.

Organizing e-mail using views is a bit different from the other choices in the Organize screen. With views, you donít actually move any mail or change its attributes based on different rules. Instead, you merely sort e-mail thatís already in a particular folder in various ways. For instance, you could try alphabetical order by subject or grouping by sender. Click Using Views and try out different options in the drop-down list to see what happens.

The final option on the Organize screen, Junk E-Mail, does not exactly organize your folders, despite its inclusion here. However, reducing the supply of spam flowing through your inbox undoubtedly makes it easier to organize real messages. Adjust the menus and click the Turn On button to see how well Outlook can sort out unwanted messages.

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments or if you have an unresolved computer problem and simply are not interested in using online tech-support to solve your problems. My email address is Include original text in reply.

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