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Become an e-mail and contact management super-user with our top ten 2010 tips

1/ Using Outlook to access Mail

Gmail is used extensively by small businesses, and Outlook allows you to get all the immediate benefits of Gmail and all the email management benefits of Outlook at the same time.

First click File then under the Info category you will be able to see the Account Settings option, click the drop down button and choose Add Account.

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In the next step, select Email Account, enter Your Name, Email Address, and Password and click Next. Outlook now does all the work configuring and connecting to Gmail, and will come back to you when it’s complete, now click Finish, and wait while Outlook syncs with your old emails.

2/ Import Gmail contacts into Outlook

This is a two-step process, you will need to first export your contacts in Gmail and then import them into Outlook.

Part 1 – Open your Gmail account, select the contacts view and then click on the More button – it’s above your top contact – then select Export. Next under the Export contacts window, enable the “All Contacts” checkbox and from “Which Export format”, enable Outlook CSV format option. Click Export to save the contacts list on to your computers’ hard drive.

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Part 2 – in the Outlook File menu, click Open, and finally click Import. You will see the “Import and Export Wizard” dialog box. Select “Import from another program or file” from the list and click Next. In Under the select file type to import from choose “Comma Separated Values (DOS)” and hit Next.

Now click the Browse button and select the Gmail contacts CSV file you created in Part 1 and click OK.

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If you already have contacts in Outlook click on the “Do not import duplicate items” option and click Next to proceed further. For the destination file select the Contacts folder and click Next again and then Click Finish to end the wizard.

3/ Create emails and appointments anywhere

You don’t need to be in Outlook or even have Outlook running to create appointments, messages, or meeting requests if you have 7 running. Outlook tasks can all be created from the 7 taskbar or Start menu using Jump Lists.

Jump Lists give you quick access to creating Outlook 2010 items without switching from another program that you are using. And, if Outlook isn’t running, you can still send a message or meeting request, or create contacts, tasks, or add an item to your by using Start menu Jump Lists.

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If Outlook is running, use the Jump List on the taskbar to quickly create an Outlook item.

Right-click the Outlook button on the taskbar, and click New E-mail Message, New Appointment, New Meeting, New Contact, or New Task.

If Outlook isn’t running then click Start, point to Microsoft Outlook 2010 and click on the right arrow next to it, and then click New E-mail Message, New Appointment, New Meeting, New Contact, or New Task.

4/ Make things happen in one click

Outlook 2010 provides users with an option to create a feature known as Quick Steps which allow you to apply multiple actions at the same time to email messages. For example, if you frequently move messages to a specific folder, you can use a Quick Step to move the message in one click. Or, if you forward messages to other people in your business, a one-click Quick Step can simplify the task

On the Home tab, in the Quick Steps group, click the More arrow at the side of the Quick Steps box, and then click Manage Quick Steps.

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For example if you wanted to build a Quick Step to copy an email to the whole team, click the Quick Step Team E-mail, and then click Edit. Under Actions, select Forward from the drop down box, and then add your team members in the To box – you can either select them of add them as text.

If you click on show options you can also add flags and text If you want you can also add a Shortcut key such as CTRL+SHIFT+1 to the Quick Step. Then click on Save.

From now on when you click on an email and on the Team E-mail Quick Step, the email will automatically be forwarded to everyone.

5/ Adding a signature

You can create personalised signatures for your email messages that include text, images, your electronic business card, a logo, or even an image of your handwritten signature.

First click on File then click on Options, then from the Outlook Options select the Mail tab and click on the Signature button. Next click New, type a name for the signature, and then click OK.

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In the Edit signature box, type the text that you want to include in the signature, then to format the text, select the text, and then use the style and formatting buttons to select the options that you want.

To add elements besides text, click where you want the element to appear, and then do any of the following:

Click Business Card, and then click a contact in the Filed As list, then click OK

Click Insert Hyperlink, type in the information or browse to a hyperlink, click to select it, and then click OK C

lick Picture, browse to a picture, click to select it, and then click OK. Common image file formats for pictures include .bmp, .gif, .jpg, and .png.

To finish creating the signature, click OK.

6/ Create a task for others

In addition to tasks that you create for yourself, you can also create and assign tasks to other people. You can review the progress of assigned tasks with the % Complete box which either you or the recipient can update when they send you an assigned task status report.

Create a new task or open an existing task then in the Task tab, in the Manage Task group, click Assign Task. In the To box, enter the name or e-mail address of the person to whom you want to assign the task. In the Subject box, type a name for the task then enter the Start date and Due date.

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In the Priority list, you can change “Normal” to “High” or “Low” if you want. Select or clear the “Keep an updated copy of this task on my task list” check box and the “Send me a status report when this task is complete” check box. Then click Send.

7/ Create polls in Outlook

If you want to get a quick idea about what your customers or colleagues think about a subject, then you can add a poll to your email.

Create a new email message, or open a message that you want to reply to or forward. On the Options tab, in the Tracking group, click Use Voting Buttons. Then click one of the following:

Yes;No When you want only a definite yes or a no.

Yes;No;Maybe This voting option offers recipients a third option.

Custom Click this command to create your own custom voting button names

When the Properties dialog box appears, under Voting and Tracking options, select the Use voting buttons check box. Use the default button options, or delete the default options and then type the text that you want, and use semicolons to separate the button names.

To review your answers open the message that you sent which included the voting buttons and on the Message tab, in the Show group, click Tracking and you’ll be able to see the results. Tracking does not appear until at least one recipient of the email message has voted.

8/ Adding a reminder to an email message

If you want to prompt others to act on or respond to an email message, you can send a message that is flagged with start and due dates and more information in the Flag to list.

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To send a reminder go to the Message tab, and select the Tags group, click Follow Up, and then select Custom. In the dialog box click Flag for Recipients. Under Flag for Recipients, select the type of reminder that you want in the Flag to list. Select a date and time in the lists next to the Reminder check box.

The reminder type, together with the date and time, will then appear in the InfoBar of the message.

9/ Sorting emails automatically – creating rules

A rule is an action that Microsoft Outlook takes automatically on an arriving message, and you can set your own rules and choose the conditions and actions by using the Rules Wizard.

Rules fall into one of two categories — organisation and notification. A rule can be quickly created from any message. The advantage of creating a rule in this manner is that rules are suggested based on the message sender or recipients. For example, when you start with a message, one rule that is suggested moves all messages from that sender to a folder that you choose.

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Click the message for which you want to create a rule, and then on the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules, then chose Create Rule and the Create Rule dialog box appears.

Under When I get e-mail with all of the selected conditions, select the check boxes for the conditions that you want.

Under Do the following, select the check boxes for the action that you want the rule to take when the specified conditions are met. Select the Move the item to folder check box. Click an existing folder or click New to create a folder to store the messages.

To add more conditions, actions, or exceptions to the rule, click Advanced Options, and then follow the rest of the instructions in the Rules Wizard.

10/ Create a custom search folder

On the Folder tab click New Search Folder. From the Select a Search Folder list, click Create a custom Search Folder. Under Customize Search Folder, click Choose and type a name for your custom Search Folder.

Next, Click Criteria, and then select the options that you want from the following tabs.

The Messages tab contains criteria on the message content or properties, such as sender, keywords, or recipients.

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The More Choices tab contains criteria on other message conditions, such as importance, flags, attachments, or categorization.

The Advanced tab enables you to make detailed criteria.

Under Define more criteria, click Field, click the type of criterion that you want, and then click the specific criterion from the list. Then in the Condition box and the Value box, click the options that you want, and then click Add to List. Repeat for each criterion that you want to add to this search folder, and then click OK.

Click Browse, select the folders that you want to be searched and click OK to close each open dialog box

Have you got any hot tips and tricks? We’d love to hear them if you have.

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Top ten time-saving tips – Outlook