Organize Incoming Outlook Messages with Color

Many of you remember the command to organize with color; a tool that would change the font of incoming messages that meet certain criteria with color. That option is still available, but it is hidden. Here is how to do it in newer versions of Outlook:

  1. Navigate to View>View Settings>Conditional Formatting...
  2. Click button to Add
  3. Choose a name for this rule
  4. Choose font, color and size and click OK
  5. Choose condition (for example, click FROM and select name of person that you would like messages to be formatted)
  6. Click OK twice
  7. Going forward, repeat step 1 and click to de-select this rule when you want to disable
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Three ways to control your Gmail inbox views.

1. If possible, switch to view your Gmail messages in Outlook. That way, you will have more robust tools to sort and search

2. Experiment with your Gmail Views:

Click the cog and test the 3 main views:

 Add Preview Pane:

  • Click the cog wheel above
  • Click Settings
  • Select Labs
  • ·Enable Preview Pane
  •  Going forward, you can switch between regular and preview pane by clicking this button:


3. Increase the number of messages viewed on each page:


  •  Click the cog wheel above
  •  Click Settings
  • ·On the General tab, change the maximum page size

These Two Outlook Options Will Keep You and Your Inbox Uncluttered!

Modify These Outlook Options and Save Hours

Now that you are getting your mailbox organized, here are two little-known options that you can enable to help keep you organized. The first option will automatically close your message window after you reply, rather than keeping it open. This will save you a click (and your sanity). The second option will automatically save your replies in the same folder as the original. This is very helpful for those of you that file messages into folders and like to keep your replies in the same place. No more searching the Sent Items folder!

1. Navigate to File>Options
2. Click to select the Mail category
3. Scroll halfway down to the "Replies and forwards" section
4. Click to tick "Close original window when replying or forwarding"
5. Navigate down to the "Save messages" section
6. Click to tick "When replying to message that is not in the inbox, save the reply in the same folder"
7. Click OK

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Office 365 and 2016 Cheat Sheets for Windows and Mac

If you're like me, I cannot keep up with all of the new features and add-ins that roll out for the applications I use. For over 30 years, I have emailed cheat sheets to my students after attending one of my training sessions. This year, we are all trying to get our mailboxes under control, so here is a link to Microsoft's Quick Starts, training videos and downloadable tip sheets. 

Use Microsoft OneNote to Organize Documents, Notes, Tasks and Recordings

OneNote is an app that comes with Microsoft Office and Office 365, and there are free versions for Windows 10 and your handhelds. If you store your notebooks on Microsoft OneDrive, you can view your notes from any of your devices-- anywhere. 

Once you create your first notebook, you can add documents, notes, tasks and even recordings. Tag, flag and easily search your notebooks without ever having to click to save. 

I use it to record the audio of my meetings and then I transcribe them at my leisure. This lets me be present at the meetings!

Sign up at

Outlook Categories to Color Code Email, Calendar and Notes

Most of us completely ignore the Categorize button in Outlook, but it can help simplify your ability to view and sort messages, calendar entries and notes. Take a moment to assess and define several categories that will make sense for you.

Assign a Category to an Outlook Item

1.      Do one of the following:

·   Select the item and click Categorize from the ribbon

·   Right-click the item and select Categorize

2.      Make the desired selection or selections in the Available Categories list

3.      To add a new category:

·   Click Categorize,

·   Click to select All Categories…

·   Click New

·   Type the name for the category in the New Category text box and select color

·   Click Add and then click OK

4.      Click OK



One typically American problem is fear of missing out (FOMO). What is the longest that you have been "off the grid" in the past 12 months: no email, no text, no Facebook, no Instagram, no internet? I'm guessing the only time you are willing do that is while you are sleeping! Most of us will take our devices on holiday and answer work emails as well. In some countries, that is against the law. Stop doing that now! Get your email organized so that you can automatically control, forward and reply to messages while you are out of office.

Here is an article discussing why France is making that illegal

Enable Auto Spell Check in Outlook

I was the spelling bee champion in the 6th grade, but I am the worst typist. As a former schoolteacher, I would be appalled to send an email out with a spelling error. Why doesn't Outlook enable auto spell checking by default? 

No worries. You can enable that feature yourself. Navigate to File>Options. On the Mail category click to check "Always check spelling before sending". Going forward, you will not need to manually spell check your messages

Use Outlook to Manage and View All of your Email Accounts

If you are currently managing multiple email accounts from different providers, you may not realize that you can use Outlook to view all of your messages in one app. No need to navigate to multiple websites.

When you are in Outlook, navigate to the File tab. Click Add Account and follow the wizard to configure your mailbox. Common webmail programs like Yahoo, and Gmail will auto configure, but you may need to check with your provider to get the correct settings.

Repeat as needed for all of your email accounts

Offload old messages to an Outlook PST/Data Folder

So many of us no longer have mailbox limits, thanks to Office 365 and cloud storage, but that doesn't mean that your mailbox can't be a bit overwhelming. Not only that, if your organization archives on a regular basis, you may have personal items being moved to those archives for all eternity! Why not create an Outlook Data File (also known as Personal Folders or PST files)? That way you can store your own stuff and keep it personal.