Category Archives: Outlook

Outlook: Disable The Email Reply Taskbar!

Outlook_Reply_BarI never thought for one moment that this could be such a big issue but apparently it is for many people. I am talking about this little taskbar on the right side of the screen in Microsoft Outlook. I got this simple question: “How to turn this off, I don’t want it there“. Well like many people do I started clicking my way through the application searching for a check box that would disable or hide this feature. As one might expect with no avail because this is not a check box option. Keep reading and I will show you how to disable this feature.

Quick Access Toolbar
Our journey starts with the Quick Access Toolbar. You know that place where you can store your own ribbon preferences.

By default it looks something like this on a regular laptop / desktop with no touch enabled screen:


Touch enabled screens
Most of our devices have a touch enabled screen these days. Ever since the touch enabled screens were introduced the Quick Access Toolbar got this new option to choose from.


Have a look and see that there is an option called “Touch/Mouse Mode” available. However because I am writing this on an old regular non touch enabled laptop I have to activate it first to see it. If you do have a touch enabled device you will see this option by default in your Quick Access Toolbar.

Now here’s where the magic starts. On touch enabled devices this is the default setting. It is optimized for touch. This also produces the additional toolbar on the right side of your screen in Outlook.


By now you will know the answer how to disable this nifty little taskbar. By choosing the Mouse option in the Quick Access Toolbar the toolbar on the right side of your Outlook screen will no longer be visible. Here’s how that looks:


A Switch mode
One might say that this is a switch mode to choose from. If you want to see the taskbar click on Touch mode. If you don’t want to see it click on the Mouse mode. If you have a non touch screen based device but still want to take advantage of this feature you have to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar first. From that moment on you can switch any way you like.

As with many things it is not all that difficult. You just need someone to show you how it is done and from that point on all the irritations are history! Happy Switching 🙂

Outlook: Share a custom contacts folder

Shared_Contacts_IDefault contacts folder
Everyone who uses Outlook has a default contacts folder. All their personal contacts will be stored in this folder. This is not typically the folder you would want to share. I meet a lot of people who have large business contacts folders. They created those folders themselves. The question that regularly returns is how to share that specific contacts folder or create a custom contacts folder.

Create your own custom contacts folder to share
First let’s start with creating a custom contacts folder which we will share with our co-workers.


From the Ribbon select the “Folder” tab. On the left click on the “New Folder” button. The following dialog will pop up:


In this dialog (which is in Dutch but you get the picture right?) fill in a name for you custom contacts folder. I named it Customers. Next click on the contacts folder from the available list. This will automatically set the second combo box to this folder contains contact items. Click OK and your custom list will show up in your contact list directory (as shown below)


Share this contacts folder
Since this is not a default outlook folder you have to share it yourself. To do so follow these steps. In the contacts directory right-click on the list you have just created and click Share Contacts.

Shared_Contacts_VThe big advantage sharing this way is the option to set the Folder permissions as you go. You can see this also appear in the menu below Share Contacts. You will see a mail window appear where you can check the box for permissions. So it is possible to work together in this list. If you want to be the only one that has exclusive rights leave the check box unmarked. That way the recipients can only view the list.


Click Send and as software usually does you will get another confirmation box to respond to:


The recipient will receive a mail which contains the link to the custom contacts folder. If he or she clicks on the link they will see the contact list appear in their contacts directory.

How the recipient sees it
And this is how the recipient will see it:

First the mail which tells the recipient to click on the button ‘open’ which is actually hard to see. The text in the red square states “Open contacts folder
mailAnd in their contacts directory he or she will see the custom contact list appear under shared contacts (image shows dutch version of outlook).

contactpersonenThere you go. Your own custom contacts folder shared with other recipients. Remember you can set individual permissions per recipient. So multiple people can edit, add and delete and if you want to the others have ‘read only’. In this day and age of sharing only one contacts folder would be sufficient for the whole company don’t you agree?

Outlook: Do Not Send Response For Meeting

NoResponse_IHow many meetings do you plan using Outlook? And how many meeting responses do you receive after you have pressed Send? For lots of people this might be one of the great annoyances of Outlook. You plan a meeting with quite a group of people and they all decide to respond neatly. That means that you know who will be attending but do you really want to know? It also means quite a lot of return mail. Not all meetings require all attendees to be there or you just don’t want to know. Many people I talk to created rules to have meeting responses be redirected to some specific folders. If you don’t need or want to receive meeting responses after you planned the meeting follow this tip

Plan your meeting as usual
Start by planning your meeting as usual. Open ‘New Meeting’ and proceed like always. However before pressing the Send button have a look at the ribbon that is available. You will see a button in the ‘Attendees’ group called ‘Response’. This button has two options. You are looking for the first one:


Once you click on the arrow you see a check mark in front of Request Responses. Right that is exactly what we don’t need for this meeting. You uncheck it by simply clicking on it. And while you are at it have a look at the second option:


Not many users will use this but if they do you are in trouble… We don’t want people to propose a new time for this meeting. So uncheck this and you are good to go.

When to uncheck the Request Responses?
Well that’s up to you. Some companies have regular meetings with a lot of people who should attend. It is often the more informal meetings that are optional. Those would be good candidates to have the responses unchecked.

Don’t go running late…
And if you do have a meeting and are running late read my blog post about the running late button on your Windows Phone 🙂

Outlook: running late button on windows phone!

RunningLateRunning Late
Don’t you just hate it when you are running late for an appointment or meeting? Traffic is holding you up, no parking space to be found or you just simply overslept. One way or the other you have to notify the meeting organizer that you will be late. What to do… write a mail, send a text or WhatsApp? When you have a Windows Phone and your appointment is in your calendar you can just hit the ‘Late’ button and send a notification to the meeting organizer. Let me show you:

In your calendar tap the meeting which could look something like this:

RunningLate_INow at the bottom om the meeting event you see the various options to choose from. In this case you see four options

accept: hit this button to accept the meeting. Not what we are looking for right now. If you have accepted already this button won’t be there.

decline: hit this button if you want to decline the meeting. If you have declined well the appointment will be there right 🙂

respond: well the obvious choices to make here

late: yes this is the button we are looking for. Hit this button if you think you might not make it on time. The next step will be presented:

RunningLate_IIThis is the easy step. Click the option which is applicable. Mind you if you have a meeting with a lot of people do not touch the email everyone option! Best would be to choose the first option. This will send an email to the meeting organizer which would be sufficient.

After that you will see a pre-filled email appear which you can just send to the meeting organizer.

Yes, hit send and you will be excused for the start of the meeting. Wow that might just give you the slack you were looking for right. So your live just got a little easier with just three clicks!

RunningLate_IIIRunning late

Well running late for an appointment or meeting can have several causes. Just try to remind yourself why you were running late for this meeting. It is better to find a solution for why you are running late instead of hitting this button every time. Keyword here: planning!

Windows Phone
I have a Windows Phone, i do not know how this works on iPhone or Android. Do these phones have the same features on board?

Outlook: please send your replies to…

send e-mailEver had the scenario where you wrote the mail but did not want the answer? The recipient should reply to someone else or a different mail address. How about that famous mail asking who will be attending the event your company is organizing. You are the one receiving all the replies. Well Outlook has this great simple option to send replies to a different mailaddress.

Here’s how to
First open Outlook and start a new email.
On the ribbon click the Options tab. On the far right you will see the button: Direct Replies To. Click that button.


This will open another dialog as shown below…


In this dialog you will see your name by default under the Delivery options group. Uncheck the checkbox in front of Have replies sent to. This will remove your name from the textbox. Now typ in the emailaddress or click Select Names… and choose the appropiate name from the addressbook. Click close the dialog. Finish the mail and click send. All replies to this mail will end up in the mailbox you provided.

Note: This option is per mail based. This means that it is good for a single mail session. Most of your mails shoud of course be replied to you.

Meeting? – Collaborate with OneNote meeting details

We have come to this era where meetings and note taking have reached new heights. Reminders on your phone indicating that the meeting is about to start, notebooks and tables are brought into the meeting ready to go. The only problem that’s left is where can I plug in my ac adapter :-)What surprises me is that so many attendees of the meeting are still taking individual notes. Everyone uses their own paper (yep still there!), their own files stored on their own tablet, pc or whatever device. Isn’t it time to get some common sense in this way of working? It is and OneNote can help you with that. On_Meeting_III

The meeting
So the first thing to get started with is plan the meeting. So you open Outlook and schedule the meeting. We invite the attendees who we would like to attend this meeting. So the actual meeting is scheduled. Now back to OneNote. You prepare a OneNote block for this meeting. As always notes are important.

Why not takes notes real time

While I am setting up my notebook in OneNote I am thinking would it not be better if attendees can scribble their notes and suggestions in the shared notebook right away. You bet it would. So the next step I take is make a general page with the meeting details. To do that I click on the Home tab. The last button is the one I am looking for Meeting Details.

When you click on the meeting details button you will see an overview of todays meetings. If you don’t see your meeting right away because the meeting is not scheduled for today, click Choose a meeting from another day. A calender will pop up. Navigate to the scheduled meeting you are looking for and click OK. Your meeting details will be inserted into the page you have indicated where the details should be.  On_Meeting_II

Your page should look something like this:


How cool is this… with the meeting details pasted in your OneNote page you can see the meeting details in your page. Who is attending, who has declined, what notes did i type with this meeting. You can collapse and expand the information at your fingertips! Oops just got a little over excited here. Back to the original intend. Sharing the notes with the attendees.

Back to Outlook
Open your meeting in outlook. Click on the button Meeting Notes in the ribbon.


You will be presented with the next dialog. Here you have two options: share notes or take individual ntes. In this case we want to share the notes. So click the first option. The next dialog will pop up asking you what section you want to share. This is important because at this point you wil have to check two options:

  • Which section do i want to share
  • Who is able to take notes in the notebook

In the pictures below i will show these options…




Pre filled email
One of the advantages of following these steps is the fact that the email addresses of all attendees will be prefilled in the shared dialog that will show up next. All you have t do is make the right choices with regards of signing in, editting options and share…


That’s it, you are done and good to go. All attendees will receive a mail with the link to the Shared Notebook and the meeting will be effective as can be! Happy collaborating 🙂

Edit received mail in Outlook

mail_stack When teaching a course i get these great questions from students how to perform a specific task. For a long time i have been trying to figure out how to perfom this task. Is this even possible. For a lot of people these questions seem simple. But for a lot of people the answer to their question can be a real eye opener! So this time i bumped into this question. Is it possible to edit the mail i receive. What i want to do is not reply to the mail but just make a quick note in the mail itself. If possible i want outlook to remind me at certain times. Maybe i can use this Follow Up feature? In this blogpost i will try to visualize the answer to this question. For this example i used a mail with a list of things to remind me and certain tasks i needed to do. I did not want to create a task via the taskobject.

So let’s get started. Open Outlook and open a mail you want to edit.

When you have openend your email you will be in seperate window. You will see that the ribbon consists of two tabs File and Message. In the Move group click on the Actions button. This will reveal some actions you can take at this time (see picture). Click on the Edit Message button. When you have done this you will see that the additional tabs in the ribbon are activated. The mouse cursor will be blinking in the body of your email. You can now edit your mail Edit_I

So this is my mail. In the picture below you see the same mail twice. On the left is the original message. On the right you see the message which i have edited. Not really spectacular but it gets the job done.

Edit_II edit_III

Edit_IV So what i want to do now is save the message an create a Follow Up so i can edit this list in this email from time to time. Click the save button on the Quick Access Toolbar. Your message is saved. Now with the message still opened click the Follow Up option in the ribbon. You will find follow up in group Tags in the Messages tab in the ribbon. Click the This Week option. This will give you a full week before Outlook will starts sendig you reminders about this email. Nice, a notification shows up in your mail. This will tell you the exact dates when this follow up will start and end. Yep this is how we want it. So you can close the email message now.


The last thing is to find out how this is made visible in your Outlook.

When you return to Outlook after closing the email you can see the follow up appear at the bottom right of your screen in the taskbar. It will show Today and will continu to do so for this whole week. When you want to make an alteration to the email you can double click the follow up task in the tasklist. This wil automatically open the email and you can pick Edit again as described above. Edit_VI

That’s it! You can edit a received email easily and create a follow up if you want to. So what are you waiting for… give it a try and happy edits 🙂

Color your mail in Outlook 2010

A cool feature in Outlook that I have been using for a long time is to color certain mail in my Inbox. That mail really stands out to other mail just because of the coloring. I am not talking about High priority but colorizing the whole mail header including all columns.

It is one of those options you set once and forget about it because once set it will do its work accordingly. A few weeks ago I suggested this option to one of my students and he was very interested how to set this option in Outlook 2010. I must tell you I did have to look around before I could find it (hmm in the earlier version you could set it here?).

So let me guide you through the steps to create the mailheaders as shown below:

The first step we have to take is choose the folder to which you want to apply the coloring. So go ahead and open a folder e.g. “Inbox”. Now go to the Ribbon and click on the [View] tab. We need to click on the second button [View Settings]. The next dialogbox will show up.





In the next dialog you define the next action which in this case is [Conditional Formatting] . So click on the [Conditional Formatting] button and define a name for the condition. By deafult this will read [Unread Messages]. I called my condition Office 365









Next click on the [Font] button and define how your font should look like. I chose red and bold. You can choose anything you like. Click [OK] when done









Now all we have to do is set the condition to which the coloring should be applied. Click on the button [Condition]. The next dialog will show up. In this dialog you can set the various options which will make up your condition. I have kept it simple and just added a [Search for Words] and entered 365 in the box. After that I checked the checkbox [Where I am:] which by default is set to [the only person on the To line]. Next click on the [OK] button and your formatting will be applied in the current folder.









When you click [OK] the result should be similar to the first picture you see in this post. All designated mail containing the word 365 will be red an bold faced in your inbox.

One Final Note

As with all settings, don’t go overboard with coloring. When you assign to much colors to the various types of mail it will lose its strenght!