Outlook E-mail: Tips and tricks
Are you using Outlook for your e-mail? Outlook is not only an
e-mail client, but also serves as a calendaring system and task
manager. The Outlook system can help attorneys boost their
productivity in practice. But, alas, the benefit is only realized
when the user understands and can maximize Outlook's functionality.
Below are some tips and tricks that will help you to realize the
full potential of Outlook in your practice Please note that
instructions may vary slightly depending upon your version of
Outlook. These tips were created using Outlook 2010.
1) Using Outlook Mail
Folders. Using Outlook's folder system can help you keep
your practice well organized. Without the use of Outlook's folders,
all your e-mail resides in your Inbox and the only way to find an
e-mail is by utilizing Outlook's search function. Rather than lump
all your e-mails together in your Inbox, try sorting your e-mails
by folders. Folders provide easy and intuitive access to past
e-mails. You might set up folders, for example, for each
client/matter, contact, bar association, committee and
How to set up folders:
- Place your cursor over the Inbox folder
- Right click and select "New Folder"
- Label that folder and select "OK"
Once you have set up your folders, you can either manually add
e-mails or set up rules to sort e-mails automatically.
How to add e-mails to folders:
- Manually: You can either copy an e-mail from your Inbox to a
folder, or you can move the e-mail from the Inbox to a folder.
(NOTE: Copying an e-mail creates another e-mail and thus will take
up more space.) To copy an e-mail, you can a) right click on the
e-mail you wish to move and select "Move" and then "Copy to
Folder;" or b) hold the Ctrl key and drag and drop your e-mail into
a folder. To move an e-mail, you can a) right click on the e-mail
you wish to move, select "Move," and then select the folder you
wish to move it to or select "Other Folder" and create a new
folder; or b) drag and drop your e-mail into an existing
- Setting up a rule: Rather than manually moving
and copying e-mails to folders, Outlook can do this automatically
for you by using rules. A rule defines the actions that Outlook
will take upon receiving or sending an e-mail. You can set up rules
by clicking on the "File" tab and then "Manage Rules & Alerts."
You can also create rules from specific e-mails by right clicking
on an e-mail and selecting "Rules" and "Create a Rule." Say you
would like all your e-mails from the Massachusetts Bar Association
to skip the Inbox and go directly to your Massachusetts Bar
Association folder. Within the "Create a Rule" dialog box, you
would select those conditions that include all e-mails sent from
the Massachusetts Bar Association to be moved to your Massachusetts
Bar Association folder. If you click "Advanced Options" within that
"Create a Rule" dialog box, there are a number of additional
conditions that you can select. For example, you could also create
a rule to mark every LOMAP e-mail that arrives as important.
Bonus Tip (courtesy of Reba J. Nance, Colorado Bar
Outlook sorts folders in alphabetical order without providing an
easy solution for custom reorganization. However, there is an easy
override. Let's say you want your Massachusetts Bar Association
folder to appear at the top of your folder list. All you need to do
is re-label that folder "A. Massachusetts Bar Association." Now
that folder will appear at the top of your folder list. Then, of
course, you'll want your LOMAP folder to appear second in your
folder list. Label that folder "B. LOMAP," and so on for other
folders you would like to prioritize. Your remaining folders will
be sorted alphabetically.
2) Scheduling E-mails.
Rather than setting a reminder to send an e-mail you have drafted,
Outlook allows you to schedule e-mails to be delivered at a certain
time. How to schedule emails:
- Compose a new message
- Select the "Options" tab
- Select "More Options"
- Under "Delivery options", check the box "Do not deliver
before:" and select the delivery date and time
- Hit "Close"
- When you click "Send", your e-mail will not be sent until the
delivery date and time
3) Keyboard Shortcuts. As with every
software program, keyboard shortcuts can boost your efficiency by
cutting down the amount of time it takes to execute a certain
computer task. Here are some helpful Outlook keyboard
- Ctrl-Enter: Send current message
- Ctrl-R: Reply to a message
- Ctrl-Shift-R: Reply All to a message
- Ctrl-Shift-A: Create a new appointment
- Ctrl-Shift-M: Create a new message
- Ctrl-1: Switch to Mail
- Ctrl-2: Switch to Calendar
- Ctrl-3: Switch to Contacts
- Ctrl-4: Switch to Tasks
For more Outlook tips and tricks, take a look at this LOMAP blog post and Outlook's own support page.
Tip courtesy of Heidi Alexander, Law Office Management Assistance
Published January 24, 2013
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice
Chair Cynthia E.