Exploring Office 2007: Outlook 2007 Tips and Tricks Top 10 Tips for Outlook 2007 - Page 2

By Helen Bradley
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Color Your Categories

Categories in Outlook 2007 are more functional than in previous versions because they are much more visible and configurable. To organize your categories, click the Categorize (four color square) icon on the toolbar to see a list of category names and colors.

Click All Categories and you can rename the categories and add additional ones if desired. You can also apply a shortcut key to a category, allowing you to allocate it to an item with a single click.

Create categories to identify items that are important to you and develop a habit of applying them to important emails and calendar items. These category colors are not only highly visible on the screen but you can sort items in order by category — for example, in the To Do bar to group like tasks together for easier management.

Account Setup

Outlook can handle multiple email accounts so you can, for example, use it with your work accounts as well as a home email account. However, adding accounts to Outlook has always been a bit of an issue because you need to know quite a bit of information to set them up such as the name of the SMTP and POP email servers — information you likely seldom need and use but which is critical to successfully configuring the accounts.

Outlook 2007 now supports an automated account setup that makes setting up accounts on an exchange server much easier. For accounts such as IMAP and POP3, Outlook attempts to guess what the mail server's configuration should be based on your email address.

In many cases it will get the correct setup automatically so you don't have to enter any details beyond your email address and password. There is also the ability for an ISP to provide account setup details in an XML file that Outlook can locate and use to set up accounts on that service.

Work Across Time Zones

If you make phone calls and attend meetings with people who are not in your time zone, whether they be across the country or across the world, you know how tedious it can be to calculate what time it is in Sydney when it is 3pm in California, for example. Luckily for global workers, Outlook 2007 makes this easy.

Create a new appointment, click the Time Zone icon on the toolbar and, from the time zone list, choose the other person's time zone. For example, if your meeting is at 10am Sydney time, select 10am for the time and then choose GMT + 10 Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney from the list.

Your appointment will then be scheduled for the correct time in your calendar which, if you're in California, is 5pm the day before — but you don't have to work that out; Outlook does it for you.

Preview Attachments

For most of us receiving Word or Excel files as attachments is a daily occurrence. In previous versions of Outlook you had to open the attachments separately to view them. In Outlook 2007 you can display an attachment's contents inside Outlook. This avoids having to open Word or Excel just to preview the document. This also works with PowerPoint presentations.

If the sender is someone in your safe senders list, the attachments can be previewed automatically. If the sender is not on your safe senders list, click the Preview File button to preview the attachment. To add a sender as a safe sender, right click an email from them and choose Junk E-mail, Add Sender to Safe Senders List. You can still save attachments as you did with earlier versions of Outlook, but the ability to view them inside Outlook will save a lot of time.

Outlook Your Way

Outlook 2007 includes many of the configuration options you had in earlier versions. These allow you to configure Outlook so that it works the way you want it to.

As an example, if your work week runs from Sunday to Thursday, choose Tools, Options, Preferences tab, Calendar Options. Here you can configure your working week and what day you want to display as the first day of the week.

To configure your time zone, click Time Zone and you can tell Outlook your time zone and also set up a second time zone if desired. You might use this, for example, if you work with a head office or branch office in another time zone as it lets you have that time zone visible on your calendar alongside your own.

Other handy configuration options in Outlook 2007 are on the Mail Format tab where you can create signatures to use on outgoing messages and even create different signatures for different email accounts.

Click the Editor Options button in Mail Format dialog and you can configure the email editor with various options, including making choices about how your text is proofed. This dialog is reminiscent of the new Options dialogs in Word 2007, Excel 2007, and PowerPoint 2007.

Outlook 2007 has a lot of new features over previous releases, many of which are not obvious from a first glance. There are lots of useful tools to help you organizing your day and to get your work done. It's all about working smarter and not harder.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.

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This article was originally published on April 28, 2011
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