Microsoft Outlook 2013 Tips

I recently switched from Microsoft Office 2010 to Office 365, which uses the Office 2013 suite of products. I’m not as happy with the design of 2013 as I was with 2010, and the switch has left me feeling that some functionality is missing. I recently picked up some tips that have helped me be more productive with Office 2013, and this post will cover three of them.

Customize Colors

I use the Categories feature in Outlook 2013 mostly for purposes of my calendar; I categorize my appointments so that I can see at a glance what is coming up. For instance, client appointments are green, and writing deadlines are red, so when I look at the calendar for the day, week or month, I can easily see how many “money making” appointments I have scheduled and how many deadlines I have coming up.

You can do similar things with emails; in Mail in Outlook 2013, click the View tab and then click View Settings, then Conditional Formatting. Here, you can change the color that Unread emails appear in your Inbox (the default is blue), or change the font and color of emails in your Inbox. You can also click Add to create your own rules for different kinds of emails.

For example, if you want emails from specific clients to appear in a different color in your inbox so you can find them easily, create the rule, choose the font and color for the message and then click Conditions to set the conditions for the rule (by choosing the client’s name or email address in the “from” field), similar to the way you would set up Rules and Alerts in Outlook.

Get more complete information about your contacts

Outlook 2013 has changed the way contacts (now called People) are handled. Although you have access to the full contact editing form when you first create a new contact, after the contact has been created, when you do a search or click on a contacts from your People list, Outlook will automatically display the Contact Card rather than the full contact information. Part of the reason for this is that Outlook now allows you to link contacts, so that if you have contact information from several sources (for example, from LinkedIn and from Outlook or from different mail accounts), you can see information from every source in on Contact Card. But, as mentioned above, you won’t see all of the information from every source – you’ll only see some of it. This is true even if you click on “Edit” – you won’t be able to add all of the information you can add when you first create a contact (such as categories, for example).

To see the complete information, you’ll need to click on one of the links in the Contact Card (see below) to see the information from a particular source. For example, clicking on Outlook will bring up the complete contact information that you added when you created the Contact. Since I’ve used Outlook social connector and connected my LinkedIn account to Outlook, clicking on LinkedIn here will bring me to my LinkedIn Profile.

contact-card-outlook2013

Preview your calendar while in Mail

Outlook is one program I have open on my desktop all day long; a lot of my work gets done via email and I rely heavily on my calendar to get things done. It can be a pain to switch back and forth between Mail and Calendar in Outlook, but there are two methods I use to look at my calendar without having to leave Mail.

The first option is to open Calendar in a separate window. To do so, I right click on calendar and then select Open in a new Window. But this doesn’t eliminate the necessity to toggle back and forth – it just means I can have both open at the same time.

The second option can be even more helpful in certain circumstances. The “peek” view allows me to preview my calendar and upcoming appointments without having to leave Mail. While in Mail, simply hover your mouse over Calendar and the peek view will appear. It shows where you are in the month and then lists all of your upcoming appointments for the next week. If you’ve assigned Categories to specific appointments, they will appear in that color. You can also change the day you’re viewing by clicking on a different date on the calendar.

calendar-outlook2013

You can also use “peek” to view Tasks or People from other areas in Outlook. This can be especially helpful for quick access to the people you contact most; instead of performing a full search for their contact information, if simply add them to your favorites in peek and you will be able to reach them in only one or two clicks.

people-outlook2013

About Allison Shields

Allison Shields
Allison C. Shields is President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. She provides practice management and business development coaching and consulting services to lawyers and law firms in the areas of practice management, productivity, client service, business development, marketing and social media. A former practicing lawyer and law firm manager, Allison knows the unique challenges faced by lawyers today. She understands the law firm environment and the daily pressures faced by lawyers trying to manage and build their business while practicing law and successfully serving their clients. Allison is the co-author of Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers and LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, both published by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association in 2012. She writes and lectures frequently for legal organizations and bar associations nationwide, and contributes to several blogs, including her own Legal Ease Blog. Her website provides resources and information for lawyers to help improve their practices. Contact her at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com or (631) 642-0221.

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