Manage Messages

This module will help you become even more productive through your email communications. You’ll learn about advanced options for messages you send or receive, as well as additional techniques for organizing messages. We’ll take a look at signatures and stationary to standardize your message content and style. We’ll also look at automating replies and organization and how to clean up messages and configure archive settings.

Use Advanced Message Options

Flag Outgoing Messages for Follow Up, Importance and Sensitivity

You can assign tags to messages you send for additional actions.

Here’s how to flag and set importance on an outgoing message.

  1. In the message window, select the Follow Up option on the Message tab of the Ribbon.
  2. Select whether the message is High Importance or Low Importance.
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Here’s how to set the sensitivity.

  1. In the message window, select the small box to the bottom right of the Tags group on the Message tab of the Ribbon.
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  1. In the Properties dialog box, select the Sensitivity from the drop down list.

Request a Delivery or Read Receipt

You can request a receipt to determine when a message was delivered and when it was read.

Here’s how to request a delivery and/or read receipt.

  1. In the outgoing message window, select the Options tab on the Ribbon. 
  2. Check the Request a Delivery Receipt box to have Outlook notify you when the message is delivered to the recipient’s mailbox.
  3. Check the Request a Read Receipt box to have Outlook notify you when the message is opened.
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Message notifications in your Inbox have this icon: Icon indicating that the Inbox item is a Read or Delivery receipt..

Add Voting Options

Voting buttons allow you to ask a question and track answers from two or three options from the email recipients.

Here’s how to add voting buttons to an email message.

  1. Select the Options tab from the Ribbon.
  2. Select Use Voting Buttons.
  3. Select the Voting option.

Here’s how to create a custom voting button set.

  1. Select the Options tab from the Ribbon.
  2. Select Use Voting Buttons.
  3. Select Custom.
  4. Select a starting point for your voting buttons from the Use voting buttons drop down list. Make sure the box is checked.
  5. Enter the new text for your voting buttons. Make sure options are separated by a semi-colon.

Redirect Replies

When you send a message, you can indicate a different address where replies should be sent.

Here’s how to redirect replies to an outgoing message.

  1. Select the Options tab from the Ribbon.
  2. Select Direct Replies To.
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  1. In the Properties dialog box, enter the new email address in the Have replies sent to box.
  1. Select Close.
  2. Send the message.

When recipients reply or reply to all, instead of the reply going back to the address you sent the message from, it will go to the email address you indicated.

Organize Messages 

Sort Messages by Conversation

Conversations are created when you reply to a message and provide a way to organize your messages.

Here’s how to sort messages by conversations.

  1. Select the View tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Check the Show as Conversations box.
  1. In the confirmation window, indicate whether to show messages in all mailboxes or just the currently selected folder as conversations.

Here’s how to expand messages in a conversation.

  1. Select the small triangle next to a message in the messages list. The messages are expanded below the original message.

Ignore Messages

When you have messages sorted by conversation, you can have Outlook ignore any further messages in a conversation.

Here’s how to ignore a conversation.

  1. Right click on the Message in the Message list.
  2. Select Ignore from the context menu.
  1. Select Ignore Conversation in the confirmation message.

Work with Folders

The Folders pane helps organize your messages.

Here’s how to create a folder.

  1. Select the Folder tab from the Ribbon.
  1. Select New Folder. You can also right-click on the Inbox folder in the Folders pane and select New Folder from the context menu.
  2. In the Create New Folder dialog box, enter the Name for your folder.
  3. Highlight the location where you want the folder to be stored.
  1. Select OK.

The folder now shows in the Folder pane.

Here’s how to move a folder.

  1. Highlight the folder in the Folders pane.
  2. Drag it to the new location.

Here’s how to delete the folder.

  1. Right-click on the folder in the Folders pane.
  2. Select Delete Folder from the context menu.
  1. Outlook displays a warning message.  Select Yes to delete the folder and all of its contents.

Move Messages Between/To Folders

Once you have your folders, you can move messages to organize them.

Here’s how to move a message from the Message list.

  1. Highlight the message you want to move in the Message list.
  2. Drag it to the desired folder in the Folders pane.

Notice the small square next to the cursor and the blue image of the message as you are moving the item.

Here’s how to use the Move command.

  1. Highlight the message you want to move in the Message list.
  2. Select Move from the Home tab of the Ribbon. (It is also available on the Message tab if you open the message in a separate window.)
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  1. Select the Folder where you want to store the message from the drop down list. If no list is available (depending on your email account and use of folders), select Other Folder
  2. Highlight the desired destination folder in the Move Items dialog box.
  1. Select OK.

Apply Categories

Categories allow you to visually connect items by assigning a keyword or phrase to a color, and then by assigning that category to email messages and other items in Outlook.

Here’s how to apply categories.

  1. Highlight the message that you want to categorize from the Message list.
  2. Select Categorize from the Home tab on the Ribbon.
All Categories command in the Tags group

When you assign a category color the first time, Outlook opens the Rename category window, allowing you to change the name of the category

  1. Enter the Name.
  2. Select the associated Color from the drop down list.
  3. Assign a Shortcut Key, if desired, from the drop down list.
  4. Select Yes.

Here’s how to access categories if you have an IMAP account. Make sure you have already built the master categories list as noted in the delivery tips.

  1. In a new message window, select the small box to the bottom right of the Tags group on the Message tab of the Ribbon.
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  1. In the Properties dialog box, select the Categories option.
  2. Select a color from the drop down list. (Note that one of the names has been changed in the following example.)
  1. Select All Categories.

Use Signatures and Stationary

Create, Assign and Modify Signatures

Set up a signature – an inspirational quote, tag lines for your business, pictures and contact information or website links – to appear at the bottom of some or all of your messages.

Here’s how to create a signature.

  1. Select Signature from the Message tab of the Ribbon.
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  1. Select Signatures to open the Signatures dialog box.
  1. Select New to create a new signature. 
  1. Enter the name for the signature and select OK.
  2. In the Edit Signature area, enter the signature text. Use the Font face, Size, Bold, Italics, Underline, Color, and Paragraph alignment tools to get the signature line looking like you want it. You can also insert a Business card (from your Contacts in Outlook) or insert a picture or a hyperlink to a website. Select Save when you have finished.

You can also Delete a signature you no longer want, or Rename a signature.

Here’s how to select a default signature.

  1. In the Signatures and Stationary dialog box, under Choose default signature, select the E-mail account for which you want to set up an automatic signature. 
  1. Select the signature from the drop down list for New Messages.
  2. Select the signature from the drop down list for Replies/forwards.
  3. Select OK to close the Signatures dialog box.

Add a Signature to Specific Messages

Signatures save time, even if you don’t want to set a default signature.

Here’s how to add a signature to a message.

  1. Place your cursor in the body of the message where you want the signature to appear.
  2. Select the Message tab on the Ribbon.
  3. Select Signatures.
  4. Select the name of the signature that you want to use.

The signature is added to the message at the cursor location.

Set Fonts for New Messages and Responses

Control the formatting of your messages by setting the fonts to use for new messages and responses using stationary options.

Here’s how to select default fonts for messages when not using a theme.

  1. Select Signature from the Message tab of the Ribbon.
  2. Select Signatures to open the Signatures dialog box.
  3. Select the Personal Stationery tab.
  1. Select Font next to New Messages or Replying or Forwarding Messages to open the Font dialog box.
  1. Select the font you want to use for the selected type of messages and select OK.

Create and Use Quick Parts

Another time-saving technique is to create and use quick parts. 

Here’s how to create a quick part.

  1. Enter and format the text you want to make available for reuse.
  2. Select the text. You can select multiple paragraphs, images, etc.
  3. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon.
  4. Select Quick Parts.
  5. Select Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
  1. In the Create New Building Block dialog box, give the building block a new name, if desired. The name defaults to the first few letters of the selection. You can also provide a description.
  2. Select OK.

Here’s how to use a quick part.

  1. Place your cursor in the message where you want the quick part to appear.
  2. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon.
  3. Select Quick Parts.
  4. Select the item you want to insert.
  1. The selected item is inserted at the cursor.

Automate Replies and Organization

Create Automatic Replies

You can have Outlook automatically reply to all messages, such as when you go on vacation.

Here’s how to turn on automatic replies.

  1. Select the File tab to open the Backstage View.
  2. Select Automatic Replies.
  1. Select Send automatic replies.
  1. If you’d like to set up a time range for the automatic replies to apply, such as while you are on vacation, check the Only send during this time range box and enter the Start date and time and the End date and time.
  2. To send automatic replies within your organization, select the Inside My Organization tab. Enter and format the text for the message you want to have Outlook send automatically. 
  3. To send automatic replies outside your organization, select the Outside My Organization tab and check the Auto-reply to people outside my organization box. Enter and format the text for the message you want to have Outlook send automatically.
  1. Select OK.

Create and Manage Rules

Save time with repetitive tasks and organization using rules. Rules are a set of one or more actions that you can have Outlook perform automatically based on a set of criteria.

Here’s how to create a rule.

  1. Select Rules from the Home tab on the Ribbon.
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  1. Select Create Rule.
  2. In the Create Rule dialog box, check the box(es) to indicate which condition(s) should invoke the rule. These are based on your currently selected message, and include the sender, the subject text, and the recipient. To include the subject as a condition, add to or edit the text in the Subject Contains field. To include the recipient as a condition, select the option from the Sent to drop down list.
  1. Check the box(es) to indicate which actions should be performed by the rule.
    1. Check Display in the New Item Alert window to receive a visual alert.
    2. Check the Play a selected sound box to receive an audible alert. You can also select a different sound by selecting Browse.
    3. To move the message, check Move item to folder and Select Folder to indicate where to move the items.
  2. Select OK to create the rule.
  3. In the confirmation window, you can check Run this rule now on messages already in the current folder if you want to run the rule on already received messages.

Here’s how to edit an existing rule with the Rules Wizard.

  1. Select Rules from the Home tab on the Ribbon. 
  2. Select Manage Rules & Alerts.
  3. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, highlight the rule and select Change Rule.
  1. Select Edit Rule Settings to open the Rules Wizard.
  1. On the first screen, step 1 is to check the box(es) for the conditions for applying the rule. Step 2 is to edit the rule description by clicking on an underlined word to open associated dialog boxes for each condition or action. Select Next.
  2. On the second screen, step 1 is the check the box(es) for the actions to perform. The same Step 2 from the first screen is available for a different way to edit the rule. Select Next.
  3. On the third screen, step 1 is to identify any conditions for when the rule should not be applied. The same Step 2 from the first screen is available for a different way to edit the rule. Select Next.
  4. The fourth screen allows you to change the name of the rule and finish the setup rule options.
  1. Select Finish.

Automate Repetitive Tasks Using Quick Steps

Quick Steps allow you to accomplish in one click common tasks with multiple steps.

Here’s how to create a new quick step.

  1. Select a message from the Message list to use as a guide for creating the quick step.
  2. Select the down arrow for the Quick Steps gallery.
  3. Select the New Quick Step.
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  1. In the First Time Setup dialog box, check the box(es) for the actions you want this quick step to perform.
  1. Select Options to add additional steps.
  2. In the Edit Quick Step dialog box, select Add Action and Choose the Action from the drop down list.
  1. Based on the action you chose, fill in any additional information. In this example, we’ll forward the message, so the To field should be completed with the email address.
  1. Enter or edit the Name for the quick step to help you remember what it does.
  2. To select a different icon to help you remember this quick step, click on the icon next to the Name. Then select the icon you want to use and select OK.
  1. To assign a shortcut key, select an option from the Shortcut key drop down list.
  2. If you want to show hints when you hover your mouse over this Quick Step icon, enter the text in the Tooltip text field.
  1. When you have finished creating the Quick Step, select Save.

Note that if you included creating a task, you will be prompted to save the task that is created. Also note that you can create different quick steps for each folder or Outlook file you have open.

Configure Junk Email and Clutter Settings

Outlook can evaluate incoming messages and filter out the junk.

Show participants how to modify Junk email settings.

  1. Select the Junk tool from the Home tab on the Ribbon.
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  1. Select Junk Email Options.

Outlook opens the Junk Email Options window, which has five tabs.

Clean Up and Archive Messages

Clean Up a Folder

Outlook can automatically delete any redundant messages using the Clean Up Folder option.

Here’s how to clean up a folder.

  1. Right-click on the folder you want to clean up in the Navigation pane.
  2. Select Clean Up Folder from the context menu.
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Outlook displays the Clean Up Folder dialog box.

  1. To change how items are handled, select Settings.

Outlook displays the Outlook Options dialog box. Scroll down within the Mail tab to the Conversation Clean Up section.

  1. You can select a new folder for the items that will be moved. Check or clear the other boxes to indicate what types of messages will go to the selected clean up folder. When you have finished, select OK.
  2. To clean up the selected folder, select Clean Up Folder on the Clean Up Folder dialog box.

Outlook deletes any messages that match your settings and move them to the default clean up folder (may be your deleted items or trash folder). If no messages are moved, Outlook displays a notification.

Use Mailbox Cleanup

The Mailbox cleanup tool helps reduce the size of your Outlook file. 

Here’s how to configure the Mailbox Cleanup tool.

  1. Select the File tab to open the Backstage View.
  2. Select Tools.
  3. Select Mailbox Cleanup.
  1. Select View Mailbox Size in the Mailbox Cleanup dialog box to show the size of the mailbox.
  1. Indicate whether Outlook should find items by age or size.
    1. To find items by age, select Find items older than, and indicate the number of days.
    2. To find items by size, select Find items larger than, and indicate the number of kilobytes.
  2. Outlook performs an advanced search to locate items. 
  1. Hover your mouse over one of the messages to see the option to delete the message from this window.

Set AutoArchive Folder

You can set a destination folder for quick archiving.

Here’s how to set the Archive folder.

  1. Select the File tab to open the Backstage View.
  1. Select Tools.
  2. Select Set Archive Folder.
  1. In the Set up One-Click Archive dialog box, select the folder where you’d like archives sent and select OK.

AutoArchive Items

Archiving saves old messages so that you can retrieve them if necessary, without cluttering your active folders or having such a large Outlook data file that it slows your computer’s performance.

Here’s how to archive old items.

  1. Select the File tab from the Ribbon to open the Backstage View.
  2. Select Tools.
  3. Select Mailbox Cleanup.
  1. Select AutoArchive.