5 simple ways to clean up Outlook 2013 (part 2)

#3 Preview docs and reply in-line

The next step is a new feature that was in Outlook 2013. If I want to respond to this Hotmail email to Zrinka, instead of popping up a new box, it just replies right here inline. It doesn’t pop out a new box for me. And I can respond here. I can respond inline.

Now, the ribbon is gone, but most of the time with Office, if you right click on your mouse, you get a menu that pops up for that particular area. So if I wanted to turn this red, I just double-click it, and I have that part of the menu here. That right-click menu is terrific because it’s more specifically the area you’re in.

So if I right click on the message where I’m writing, I get these commands, “Font,” “Paragraph,” all my formatting features. If I click over here in the Inbox, I get a different set of commands when I right click that is for the Inbox. “Categorizing,” “Following-Up,” “Quick Steps,” things like that. So if you have the ribbon temporarily disappear, you don’t have to bring it back, you can just simply right click and get many of those commands at your fingertips.

Now I can always pop this out if I want to. There’s a command here at the top if I want the full ribbon, I can click on that. And now I have a full page. I have the ribbon at the top. I have the full thing here in front of me.

So here’s Zrinka’s message again. Now she also has a couple documents she’s inserted. If I single click these, they actually open up in Outlook. So I’m going to look at this Excel spreadsheet, and there’s also a nice chart here. And I can see it in Outlook. I don’t have to open up Excel.

Now it’s just a few seconds to open up Excel, but a lot of these shortcuts you save a few moments an hour. That adds up to many seconds, or even a few minutes every day. And that’s one of those productivity things that you can help work faster without really thinking that you’re working that much faster. So that’s a really nice thing. It doesn’t have to open up Excel.

The same thing, I’m going to open up this Word document, and I can read the Word document in the preview here, in Outlook. I don’t have to open up Word. If I double-click, it will open up Word automatically. This also works for PDFs. So if people send a lot of PDFs around, you can view them right in Outlook.

In fact, this copy of this Word document is actually in Review mode, so I can actually go over here and click on it, and read the comments of this Word document, while I’m in Outlook. So that’s another way of kind of simplifying is inline documents and inline response.

Doug Thomas: I’m going to bring back the full ribbon here, just to keep on showing things around here. As we go into the next one. So that’s basically the layout of Outlook, of how to clean that all up and get– if you just want a big reading and writing pane, you can use that.

#4 Conversation View

The next thing we’re going to talk about, let’s concentrate on the Inbox a little bit and look at a few features. One of them is Conversation View. That came around, I want to say with Outlook 2013. And if you go up to View, you can find it. Now, let’s look at some of the emails here. Some of these emails from Sara here, she just mailed a whole bunch about the same thing, maybe had some new information each time.

There’s this big email chain, an important one, with Tailspin Toys. And there are several emails. Here’s one. Here’s one. I have to go down a little farther, find another one down here. I mean, you’ve seen this happen when you are dealing with an important email chain, and you come back from a break of a couple hours, and they’re sprinkled throughout and you’re trying to read the conversation.

What Conversation View does, instead of making your Inbox linear, your newest message on top, your oldest message on the bottom, it groups them in particular conversations. So I’m going to check that here.

And I’ll just do it for this folder. Any of these experiments, you usually can do a little or a lot. And if anything sounds interesting, I would turn it on. It’s Tuesday now, maybe for the rest of the week, try it for a couple days, and then when you come back in the office on Monday, see if you want to keep that up or go back to the old ways. But give it a few days.

So for this folder, I’m going to turn on Conversation View. And now this entire conversation about Tailspin Toys is wrapped up into this one message. I can expand it by the triangle. And I can see all the messages if I want to. And again, there’s quite a lot. There’s, oh, good messages or so. Many of them are repeats. But again, I can close all that, so I can get to my Inbox. My Inbox has currently Items– I can scroll down this much faster because it’s grouped several of those messages. Same thing here with the quarterly results. All of them are grouped here in one message.

So Conversation View is a great way to streamline your Inbox. And yeah, there are a couple little tricks to it. Like if you want to respond to, not the most current message, but the second current one, but again, it takes a little– you might want to, again, try it out for a couple days and see if you like it.

#5 Clean Up Tool

Our last step is taking this one step farther, and it’s one of my favorite things, and it’s the Clean Up Tool. The Clean Up Tool, basically, and I’m just going to mouse over it to tell you what it does. It removes redundant messages.

Let’s look at this Tailspin Toy message. There’s a lot of things that are just + , right? People are just agreeing to the last thing that was said. And everything is repeated from that message. So all the information is there except that top line. What Clean Up does is remove all the redundant messages. Okay?

So we’re going to experiment here. Again, we’re going to take baby steps. I’m going to go up to Clean Up, and I can just clean up this conversation. I don’t have to do the whole mailbox, or even the whole Inbox folder, I’m just going to hit, “For this conversation.” It’s going to give me a warning. And there, I’ve cleaned it up.

So I had messages, I now have one, two, three, four, five. Four. I have four messages. I can count. Four messages. I have the most current, and I have the first message, and I have two others ones. Because what Clean Up does is any information that is not repeated in those other messages, it keeps. So if someone goes off on a side track, and starts another conversation just with you, you don’t lose that message. It just clears up the messages that were redundant.

So, if I clear up that conversation, in fact, I’ve gone down to messages, so I went from to. If I clear up the whole folder, let’s see what I get down to. I get down to . Now, you can do this for folders. If you have that old project folder that you had at one point, that you’ve kept around. but you don’t really do anything with it, run the Clean Up tool, and you’ll be surprised how much mail that’s redundant.

Again, you can find all this stuff. It’s there, it’s searchable, but you just clear up those redundant messages. There’s someone in this room, and I’m not going to say who, who did this for her folders when they learned about it, and literally cleaned up thousands of messages. When I was at another company, I had thousands of messages in my Inbox. I now have changed my habits. But it’s a way to– if you’re hitting a limit from time to time, every couple of weeks, you get that limit about you need more room for Outlook, you can clean up your messages quickly this way with the Clean Up tool. Try it out on a conversation, try a folder. I use it for my entire email in Outlook.

So those are our five quick tips to cleaner up and simplify Outlook. Just review. Remove and change panes; Collapse the ribbon; Preview docs and reply inline– that’s only for Outlook you can do that; four is: Use Conversation View; and five is: Use the Clean Up tool.

We have those and a whole bunch of information training about Outlook. Our link to our previous webinar we did a couple weeks ago about “Eight Time-Saving Tips in Outlook”– none of which I just did, there are eight other tips– you can find that information at aka.ms/out . More information about the Office Webinar series in general, go to aka.ms/offweb. You can also leave us comments there.

Doug Thomas: Next week I will be talking about other timesaver tips for Office in general. We’ll give you “9 Tips to Save You Time.” It almost rhymes. Maybe it does. But for today’s webinar crew, thank you for joining today’s Office -Minute Webinar.