5 simple ways to clean up Outlook 2013 (part 1)

You can do so many things with Outlook, and we’re not going to talk about those today. We’re going to show you how to simplify Outlook. Sometimes I just want to read my email, respond to it, glance at my calendar and get going. You can do so much with Outlook, but we’re just going to simplify it today, and we’re going to show you some ways to simplify the kind of layout of Outlook, and also your Inbox, to thin things out, to get to the important things without looking at all the gunk.

#1 Move + Change panes

Doug Thomas: So what you’re looking at here is going to be a typical Outlook. This is Outlook 2013. Now Outlook’s going to look different, depending upon how your admin sets it up, if you’re in business, or buttons you’ve pressed. We’re going to show some of that ways to do it, but I just want to kind of go over this look that we have here.

I see six kinds of areas I want to talk about.

  1. The top is the ribbon.
  2. And then I have four panels, or panes, in the middle here.
  3. I have a folder pane; then I have my current Inbox, which is usually your Inbox.
  4. I have my reading pane here, and this is a long message from Zrinka. Let’s just kind of see how long it is. She talks about several things.
  5.  Also, to the right now, I have the To-Do Bar, which is the Calendar.

At the bottom, there’s a small strip. This is called the Navigation Pane. And it’s kind of a key for some of the things we’re going to do to clean up.

  1. If you mouse over one of those words, You get a peek of the Calendar.
  2. Or a peek of People. You can put your put your favorite people here.
  3. And then you can instantly, you know, use Link, if you’re on Link, or you can message them, video chat with them.
  4. The people you do popular, and you can always search for folks here. And all your tasks are here also.

So that’s the peek system. And it’s fully functional. I mean, I can go on the Calendar here and open up a meeting if I wanted to. I can click on another day, and see what that calendar is like, if I want to see if I’m busy that day or not. You can do that with peeks in Outlook 2013.

Because of that, it really just- this Calendar just kind of really replicates what’s on the right-hand side. This To-Do Bar.

So I’m going to go over here to the far right-hand side, and I’m going to collapse that. I’m going to remove it. There’s a little X here in the upper right-hand corner that I can use that. And now I have a little more Reading Pane. In fact, I get down to that second subhead now.

You can do a lot of this stuff also in the View tab, depending upon what version of Outlook you have. Most of these commands will be on the View tab.

Let’s see what else I can clean up? This Navigation Pane, it can actually be smaller, too. I click on the “…”; “…” is kind of a shortcut for menus.

So I can get more options, and I can actually compact that navigation. So instead of words now, that’s gonna turn into little icons. And you know, everything is still right there. All my peeks still work and everything like that.

Now, for this email, I’m a fictitious person named KatieJ. Katie does not have a lot of folders. Some people, they have a ton of folders here. But if you don’t you can actually remove the Folder Pane here.

So I’m going to click on this arrow, and that kind of removes that whole left-hand side. And now I have a really big Reading Pane, which is nice.

In fact, but if I want to get back to those folders, I just click those words, “All Folders,” and they all appear right there. And I can go on and do other things, and that little pop-out will stay there until I go back over and click “All Folders” again.

Also, if you notice, the Navigation Pane is gone vertical instead of horizontal to save you even more room. On Zrinka’s message, I can read all the way through the second paragraph area.

But I can do even more. So that’s the first one. Collapsing panes and changing the panes that you can.

You can also do that with a manual drag. I’m just going to put my cursor here in between those two panels, and I can move it left or right, so I get even more room, if I want to, for the Reading Pane. So that’s one thing you can do is to work with your panes to get it set up the way you want to. Again I want to concentrate on reading and responding to email.

#2 Collapse the ribbon

Let’s look up at the ribbon. The ribbon’s been around since Office 2007. I’m a big ribbon fan. Dave, who works here, is a Shortcut fan. He uses Shortcuts more than the ribbon. But you can change and compact the ribbon if you want to. And this works for different versions of Office, but all programs. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, you can do the same thing.

You can go to this little triangle here on the right-hand side. And that just takes the ribbon now, and I just have tabs.

So look at all the reading space now. I’m now down the third bold subhead here in that email from Zrinka. She sends me a Hotmail email login. And if I need to ribbon, I can just simply click “View” and there it is! And then when I click back, it disappears.

There are other options you can do with the ribbon. In the very upper right- hand corner, you see this little box called “Ribbon Display Options.”

There’s three of them. There’s “Show Tabs and Commands.” That’s the full ribbon, we saw that. Now I’m on “Show Tabs.” But I can also “Auto-hide the Ribbon.” So I’ll click that, and now even the Tabs go away. So now I can read almost this entire message from Zrinka, cause I really simplified that Outlook screen.

If I need the ribbon, I can just go back to the top here. It turns blue on my machine. I can click that, and the ribbon then appears. And I click away, and it disappears. So that’s hiding the ribbon.