Tips and Tricks
Mel Babb © 2007

Customizing Outlook 2003 Email and Finding Messages
When you first open Outlook 2003, what appears may not be what you want. It wasn’t for me. I like to see my mail right away without having to click several times. I changed an option to make that happen. Here’s how: on the right side of the Outlook Today page, Click “Customize Outlook Today”. At the top uncheck “When starting, go directly to Outlook Today”. On the top right, click Save Changes. Next time you open Outlook, it will show the Mail screen. It shows three panes by default. I don’t like to always see the right pane called the Reading Pane, so I turn it off and on. Here’s how: click View, Reading Pane, Off. If you want, put this command on your toolbar. Click View, Toolbars (or right click in a blank area of the toolbar) and choose Customize. Click the Command tab and choose View. Drag the Reading Pane command to the place on the toolbar you want it. A black line will show where it will be placed. Release the mouse.
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If you want to see all your messages in one continuous list, Click View, Arrange By and notice that Show in Groups is checked. Click it to turn the feature off. To turn it back on, click View, Arrange by and Click Show in Groups again. It’s a toggle.
Sort to Find what you want
Many ways are available to find a message. Let’s start with sorting the inbox or any particular folder for that matter. Simply click on a column heading and the items will be sorted by that column. Click again and the order will be reversed from first-to-last, (ascending) to last-to-first (descending). Sometimes after sorting by a different column, you need to slide the scroll bar back to the top or just press Ctrl+Home. With the reading pane off, more columns appear to sort by. Try clicking on the icons like the paper clip to put all the messages with attachments at the top. If you like to sort by Name and then back to Received, move the Received heading over next to From. Drag it to the location you want.
Find that D$@* Message
Another way to locate what you want is to use the Find command from the standard toolbar or the Tools menu. When you choose Find, a “Look for:” bar appears over the messages. Type in what you want to locate, for instance your boss’s name. Click “Find Now”. The “To, From, and Subject” areas of the messages in the current folder will be searched. If you want to search all folders, click “Search in” on the bar and select “All Mail Folders”. If you want to search the text in messages for specific words, click Options and select “Search All Text in Each Message”. This may take awhile if you have lots of messages. To refine the search even more, Click Options and Choose “Advanced Find”. Click Clear to return to the full list so you can search something else. Check out help for more ways to use the Find feature. Help is quite helpful and complete on this feature.
Once you’ve found, let’s say, all the messages of your boss, you can save what you’ve found as a search folder. Click options in the Look For: bar and choose “Save Search as Search Folder”. Type in a name for the folder, like Boss, and it will be placed in the left pane under Search Folders. This folder will be updated every time mail comes in.
The Folders


Which brings me to the list of folders in the left pane. First, let’s get more space in the pane by dragging down the icons for calendar, contacts, and tasks so just little icons show at the bottom. To switch to another part of Outlook, just click the appropriate icon.
You may have noticed that some folders seem to be duplicated. The top section says “Favorite Folders” and the bottom section “All Mail Folders”. The top “Favorite Folders” section starts with Inbox, Unread Mail, Follow Up, and Sent Items. Unread and Follow Up are filters. More on filters later. They show messages no matter what folder they are in. Any folder in the bottom section can be added to Favorites for quick and easy access by right clicking on the folder and choosing “Add to Favorite Folders”. This is handy for folks who have lots of folders, and the ones they file into most often are buried far down the list. The list only sorts alphabetically. Adding them to Favorites puts a “shortcut” to them at the top. The folders in the Favorite section can be dragged to the order that makes sense for you.
Search Folders Really Filters
Whereas regular folders that you create under the Inbox actually “contain” the messages you move to them, the search folder is a dynamic list of messages by the subject indicated. The items in the list just happen to look like messages. The search folders could more accurately be called message filters. For instance, after you find all messages from your boss and create a search folder of them called Boss, the folder Boss appears under Search Folders. No matter what folder you file the message in, it will show up in the search folder Boss. You may file stuff from your boss, in several folders according to the subject of the message like different projects or meetings folders. As new messages come in, they are automatically listed in the search folder. The search criteria can be changed by right clicking on a search folder and choosing “Customize this Search Folder”. Follow Up, Large Mail, and Unread Mail search folders are set up by default.
Flagged Messages Show up in Follow Up folder
Flagging a message is a good way to find it again if, say, you want to postpone answering it or forwarding it. Six colors exist for you to decide what each color means to you. To use the default red flag, just click the flag. To choose a different color, right click the flag and pick the color you want. The neat thing about flagging is that no matter what folder you put a flagged item in, all flagged items show up when you click the For Follow Up folder. You can also click on the flag heading in the inbox and sort the messages there.
So there’s just a few ways to make Outlook email friendlier. And now you know how to find a lost message! Stay tuned for more ideas and tips.
Happy Computing.
Mel Babb, a long time member of HAL-PC, is currently an instructor and on the volunteer Help Committee at HAL-PC. She runs her own company, PC Tutoring Services. She comes to your office or home and creates notes for you on what you want to learn. Contact her at 713-981-5641 or email at © 2007