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Automating Common E-mail tasks

Screen shot: Outlook 2010.

Quick Steps in Outlook 2010

Introduction

What do you regularly do with your e-mail? Anything which you repeat many times may be worth turning into a Quick Step so you can access this with a single button click. You can determine what your Quick Steps are and precisely what they do.

In the Home tab there is a Quick Steps group. This shows the top six Quick Steps; if you click the tab group dialogue widget [ribbon expand widget]  at the bottom right of the group you will see an option Manage Quick Steps which will, in turn, give you a dialogue which will allow you to manage as many Quick Steps as you like and also determine which ones appear in the tab.

Screen image: Quick Steps.

The Quick Steps provided by Microsoft are:

  • Move to - marks e-mail as read and moves it to another folder.
  • To Manager - forwards e-mail to your manager
  • Team E-mail - creates a new e-mail to your team
  • Done - marks e-mail as complete, moves it to a folder, and marks it as read
  • Reply & Delete - replies to the sender and deletes the original e-mail

plus Create New, which creates a new Quick Step to meet your requirements.

For each Quick Step you must specify some details, such as which folder, or who is my manager.

Initially Modifying Quick Steps

For example: If you click To Manager the First Time Setup dialogue is displayed:

Screen image: First Time Setup.

Click the To button and select your manager from the address book in the usual manner. You can change the Name of the Quick Step if you wish, e.g. "To Rob". Once you clickSave, the quick step will now forward e-mail to your (designated) manager.

Editing Quick Steps

If you click the Options button in the first time Setup dialogue the Edit Quick Step dialogue is displayed.

You can also get there by right-clicking the Quick Step and selecting Edit quickstepname, or by selecting Manage Quick Steps, selecting the Quick Step, and then clicking Edit.

Underneath To... is a link Show Options, you can click it and further details will be displayed (and the "Show Options" link will change to "Hide Options").

Screen image: Edit Quick Step.

Now you can edit almost anything about this quick step.

Because you've chosen Forward, you can Add Cc or Add Bcc; you can change the Subject(this defaults to FW: followed by the original Subject); you can set a Flag or change theImportance, and even add some Text. The options available here will depend on which Action you've chosen.

Note that Forward is a drop-down list, and can be changed to something else.

Also under Optional is a drop-down option Shortcut key. You can set it so that Ctrl+Shift+1 (or Ctrl+Shift+ any number 1 - 9) will instantly do what this Quick Step does - in this case Forward to your manager. Also you can amend the Tool tip text to be any friendly descriptive text you desire.

Add Action

Just above Optional is an Add Action button. If you click this, a new drop-down list Choose an Action appears beneath the previous action (there is a delete button to the right of this to remove it if you did this in error).

Now you can add a further action - we can make this Quick Step not only forward to your manager but also delete the message or move it to a specific folder. The actions available are:

  • Filing: Move to folder,
    • Copy to folder (we do not recommend this),
    • Delete message,
    • Permanently delete message.
  • Change status:
    • Mark as read,
    • Mark as unread,
    • Set importance.
  • Categories, Tasks, and Flags:
    • Categorize message,
    • Clear categories,
    • Flag message,
    • Clear flags on message,
    • Mark complete,
    • Create a task with attachment,
    • Create a task with text of message.
  • Respond:
    • New Message,
    • Forward,
    • Reply,
    • Reply All,
    • Reply With Meeting,
    • Forward message as an attachment.
  • Appointment:
    • New Meeting,
    • Create an appointment with attachment,
    • Create an appointment with text of message.
  • Conversations:
    • Always move messages in the conversation,
    • Ignore messages in the conversation.

So you can add as many actions as you require.

Summary

The question is: What do you regularly do with your e-mail? Anything which you repeat many times may be worth turning into a Quick Step.

For example, if you regularly reply to certain e-mails and file them (move them) in your Research folder, then you can set up a Quick Step to do this. You can even set up a shortcut key so that Ctrl+Shift+1 (for example) does this even quicker than finding the button with your mouse.

You might also want to set up rules to automatically move messages to different folders. See E-mail Rules with Outlook 2010.