HomeTechnologyNews7 Microsoft Outlook Features You Should Be Using

7 Microsoft Outlook Features You Should Be Using

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As an Outlook user, you are likely aware of its robust set of features. But just because an app has tons of features doesn’t mean they’re all worth your time. These are several of the features of Microsoft Outlook that should be using

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Email Scheduling for Effective Time Management

If you’re someone who uses time blocking to manage tasks throughout the day, scheduling emails can be beneficial. You can create as many emails as you need during your block of time and choose the dates and times to send them.

To schedule an email you are composing, go to the Options tab and select “Delivery Delay”.

Delay delivery in the Options tab

In the lower section of the Properties window, check the Do not deliver before box. Then use the dropdown boxes on the right to choose the date and time.

Schedule when to send an email in Outlook

Optionally, you can use the additional functions in the Properties box. It has settings with tracking and voting options at the top and additional delivery options at the bottom.

When finished, click “Close” to apply the schedule.

When you email the same group of people on a regular basis, there’s no easier way to add up all those email addresses than by creating a distribution list. The Outlook Contact Group feature helps you do just that.

RELATED: How to hide email addresses in an Outlook contact group

To quickly create a contact group, go to the Home tab, select the New Items dropdown menu, and choose More Items > Contact Group.

Contact group in the New Items menu

Select “Add Members” and choose the location for your stored contacts.

Add members in contact group window

Choose a contact from the list and click “Members” to add it. Continue this process until you have everyone in the group and click “OK.”

Group member selection window

Give your contact group a name at the top and select “Save and Close.”

Name and save a group of contacts in Outlook

When you want to send an email to that new group, click the To button in the compose window and select the group. Or start typing the name of the group in the To field and select it from the suggestions.

Contact group suggestions in Outlook

Inbox rules for auto-organization

While email rules can seem intimidating to set up, it’s well worth the time to save you the hassle later. You can automatically move emails to folders, mark messages with priority, play a sound for important emails, and more.

To set up a new rule from scratch, go to File > Manage Rules and Alerts and click “New Rule”.

Manage Rules and Alerts and New Rule window

Or, to create a new rule based on an email you received, open the message in its own window. Click the Rules dropdown in the Move section of the ribbon and choose “Create Rule.”

Create rule in the Rules menu

Depending on the option you choose above, select the conditions and actions, and then follow the subsequent prompts for your new rule.

When you’re done, you can apply it to existing messages in your mailbox, or simply click “Finish” to save the rule for future messages that arrive.

Final step to set up an Outlook rule

Multiple email signatures for proper closings

To make sure all your messages have the proper closings, you can create multiple email signatures in Outlook. This allows you to use a specific signature for business emails instead of personal messages.

RELATED: How to use a Microsoft template for your Outlook signature

To create a signature, select Signature > Signatures on the Message tab of the compose window.

Signatures in the Signature menu for a new message

On the Email Signature tab, choose the email account at the top if you have more than one. Then select “New” on the right. Give your signature a name and click “OK.”

New signature configuration windows

Set the signature in the Edit Signature box and select “Save” when done.

You can optionally make the signature the default for new messages, replies, and forwards using the dropdown boxes at the bottom.

Default settings for a new signature

Repeat the same process to create additional signatures and select “OK” when done.

When you want to use a signature, return to the Signature dropdown on the Message tab and choose the one you want to use. If you set a signature as the default, it will appear in your email automatically.

Signature options in the Signature menu for a new message

Automatic archiving to clean up folders and inboxes

Clearing your inbox and folders of outdated and unnecessary emails can take time. With the AutoArchive feature in Outlook, you can automatically delete old messages that you no longer need.

Go to File > Options and select “Advanced” on the left. Then click “AutoArchive Settings” on the right.

AutoArchive Settings button in Outlook Options

Complete each of the fields in the AutoArchive popup to find out when and how to archive your emails. You can choose when to run the tool and receive a prompt before it runs.

You can also choose how to handle certain messages during the AutoArchive process, such as the age of items, which archive folder to use, and even permanently delete old items.

Setting AutoArchive in Outlook

When you’re done, click “OK” to apply the settings.

Convert messages to meetings for reference

How many times have you received an email requesting a meeting? You can convert an email to a meeting in Outlook calendar to save a lot of time. Also, the message that inspired the meeting is automatically attached to the event for reference.

RELATED: How to create a meeting directly from an email in Outlook

To turn an email into a meeting, click the three dots at the top right of the message and select “Meeting.”

Meeting in an Outlook email menu

You will then see a new event request window open with the email as the description. You can then complete the application like any other; add attendees, set the date and time, and choose a location.

New meeting window from an email

Send out your meeting request when you’re done, and your attendees will see the invitation with the email in the body.

Email filters to quickly find messages

One more useful feature of Outlook helps you find the emails you need quickly. You can certainly use Outlook’s basic and advanced search options, but to quickly see unread, flagged, important, or categorized messages, use the Filter Email feature.

On the Home tab, select “Filter Email” and choose an option.

Filter email options in Outlook

Once you apply the filter, you can adjust it if necessary. In the Refine section of the ribbon, add another filter, or in the Scope section on the right, choose the mailbox or folder.

Additional filter options in Outlook

When you’re done with the filter, click “Close Search” on the right side of the ribbon.

Close search button for a filter


While all of the features that Outlook provides are useful in some way, there are some that you need more than others. With this list, you have the basic features you need to save time, improve your productivity, and better manage your inbox.

RELATED: 7 Underused Microsoft Outlook Features

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