Most of us Windows users have been operating Microsoft Outlook at work since the ‘90s, and since 2007, we have been using the current “ribbon” user interface. It’s easy to get into habits and let old ways of working with technologies continue to shape your work flow. But why not take a fresh perspective on this age-old business tool? In case you missed them, here are 5 recent improvements Microsoft added to Outlook that will add a little spice to your email life at work.
1. Add Some Color & Personality to Your Email Theme
New in 2016, Outlook, as well as the other Office programs, now default to a theme called “Colorful,” which automatically matches the background color of the program to the icon color. Outlook’s accent color is now light blue, Word’s is now navy, Excel’s is green and PowerPoint’s is dark orange. The white and gray themes are still there, but there is an added dark gray scheme.
The 2016 version also allows you to change the background design, which places a sketch design at the top of your Outlook screen (although this feature was also available back in 2013). Simply go to the File menu in Outlook, select “Office Account,” and explore the options under “Office Background” and “Office Theme.” These are so simple, but also are actually really fun additions to the Outlook visual experience. The theme and backgrounds carry though across all of your Office programs.
2. Easily Find the Command You Need with Interactive Help Search
How many times have you needed to do something in Outlook that you don’t necessarily do all the time? Even when you use the “Find” command, you find yourself at a loss for the exact words that represents the command. Minutes, sometimes hours, become wasted just trying to find the command that allows you to “Send/Receive Groups” or “Work Offline.”
For 2016, Microsoft has gone a long way towards fixing this problem by integrating a truly intelligent search function above the ribbon in all the Office programs. They call this interactive help and search function “Tell me,” which works by converting your own language style into a useable function.
At the top of the ribbon, find the search box with the lightbulb. When you start to type in this box, Office intelligently generates a list of potential matches and provides a drop-down menu for you to choose from these options. If you need to automatically reply to an email, simply start typing “automatic reply” in the Tell Me box, and all of the reply and respond options will appear.
3. Get a Better View of Your Email from a Tablet
Say goodbye to awkward email views when you are on the go and working from your tablet. With the 2016 version of Outlook, Microsoft introduced tablet rotation and responsive design, which allows for viewing full width messages when the tablet is in portrait mode.
4. De-Clutter Your Inbox Automatically
“Clutter” is a machine-based learning feature that automatically detects emails that you are likely to ignore and removes them from your inbox. But new in 2016 is the “Move to Clutter” feature, which allows you to manually move emails you find irrelevant to the Clutter folder, in an effort to “train” the Clutter machine to eventually choose those same kinds of messages for automatic inbox removal.
5. Share Photos & Videos in Email with Quick Links
A new feature that has been added to Outlook is the ability to seamlessly attach and send photos, videos, PDFs and other files directly from your organization’s DAM (digital asset management system). This new feature allows users to avoid having to download a file from their DAM to their own desktop before attaching it to an email, and also allows the user to freely send their largest files without being restricted by Outlook’s file size restrictions.
It works by clicking the DAM icon from within Outlook, which brings up an in-app panel from which the entire media collection can be accessed and searched (based on the user’s permissions). When the desired media file is found and inserted, it appears in the email as a link that the email recipient can click to access and download the file. Sharing photos, videos and documents from Outlook just became as easy as a few clicks.
*This feature requires the company adopt a DAM that is integrated with Office 365. To learn more about what a DAM is, click here.
Clicking the DAM icon from within Outlook brings up an in-app panel from which the entire media collection is accessed. The asset appears in the email as a true link that the email recipient can click to gain access to the file. Sharing photos and videos from Outlook just became as easy as a few clicks.
*Note: these features can be used on windows computers only, as well as the Office 365 web app.