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Tame your computer – simplify your search

12 Dec

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a tip about how to find email messages sent or received between certain dates. What I wrote still stands but now I’ve found a much easier way. (Thanks for the inspiration, Jackie!)

Here’s how:

  1. Open the Outlook folder you want to search (If you don’t know where you have stored the message, you can skip this step and use step 4.)
  2. Click in the Instant Search box in the top right hand corner or press CTRL + E
  3. Type received: <start date> .. <end date>
  4. If necessary, click on Try searching again in All mail Items at the bottom of the search results to search all other Outlook folders

For example, received:01/07 .. 31/07 will find any email messages that you sent or received in July this year. (No need to specify the current year.) Or received:01/01/2015 .. 01/05/2015 will find emails you sent or received between January and May 2015.

I obviously hope you have a good reason for hanging on to stuff from 2015, especially because various survey statistics show that we waste too much time searching for documents and email messages. To be precise, according to a McKinsey report people spend on average about nine hours per week searching and gathering information! So only keep what you need – and know how to find it.

Related tips:

Find that needle in a haystack
Find even more needles in that haystack
Reduce irrelevant search results
Search for messages sent to a particular person during a certain period of time
Find email messages sent or received between certain dates

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Tame your computer – specify your search

30 Oct

I hope you’re using the improved search that was introduced in Outlook version 2007? I don’t mean simply typing in the Search box, but using the different buttons to refine your search. For example, use the From button and click on Has Attachments and This Week to find any message from a certain person that you received this week (as long as it contains one or more attachments).

You might have noticed that the This Week drop-down list is restricting you to search for Today, Yesterday, This Week, Last Week, This Month, This Year and Last Year. So what if you want to search for a specific period?

Here’s how:

  1. Click in the Instant Search box in the top right hand corner or press CTRL + E.
  2. Type received:>=d/m AND <=d/m

For example, received:>=1/9 AND <=13/9 will find any emails that arrived between 1 and 13 September 2017.

If you did not find what you were looking for, click on the Try searching again in All Mail Items link at the bottom of the search results page.

Oh, and don’t forget that your 10 most recent searches are saved and can be found when clicking on the Recent Searches button on the Search Tools ribbon.

Related tips:
Find that needle in a haystack
Find even more needles in that haystack
Reduce irrelevant search results
Search for messages sent to a particular person during a certain period of time

 

Tame your computer – paste it PDQ

19 Aug

Do you ever copy and paste text from, say, the web or applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint into an email message? If so, you probably first open a new email, then click in the body of the message and finally paste what’s on your clipboard. If so, you can save yourself some time …

Here’s how:

  1. Copy the text or figures or file, as normal.
  2. Switch to Outlook. (Remember ALT + TAB or WIN + TAB to flip through your open windows?)
  3. Press CTRL + V.

Whatever you copied in step 1 is automatically included in the body of the new email message. And as mentioned in step 1, this even works when you copy a file, which will add the document as an attachment to the email. That said, if you want to share one or more files with somebody in your organisation it might be better to send a link to the item, rather than an attachment. See tip 431.

Finally, you can obviously do this copying and pasting even smarter using a macro, but I think the method described above is a great time-saver in itself.

But speaking of macros … on 6 – 7 September we run our next two-day Excel VBA course, aimed at anyone who needs to understand and write code that operates within Excel. If you want to learn how to automate repetitive tasks, add new functionality to Excel and format data into reports why not come along? See http://www.roem.co.uk/msexcvba.php for more detail. Oh, and it’s guaranteed to run!

Related tips:
Tip # 419: Preview and flip through your open windows
Tip # 431 : Send links rather than attachments

Tame your computer – colour your calendar

27 Jul

Back in January 2016 I told you how to add public holidays to your Outlook calendar. By default they are displayed in white, but the colour can be changed by applying any of the available category colours, making them easier to spot between work stuff.

Here’s how:

  1. Double-click on one of the holiday entries in your Calendar. (For example, press CTRL + G and type 28/8 to jump to our next Bank Holiday Monday.)
  2. Click on Categorize, followed by All Categories.
  3. Click on Holiday (not in Master Category List) and click on New.
  4. Select a colour of your choice and press ENTER or click OK twice.

If you work closely with offices in other countries you might want to add and colour-code those as well. By assigning colours you can quickly see what’s coming up and plan accordingly.

Speaking of holidays … with summer in full swing and a break on the horizon why not have another look at the five tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday?

Related tips:
Tip # 417: Add holidays to your calendar
Tip # 489: 5 tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday

Tame your computer – simple scheduling

9 May

Some time ago I wrote a tip on how to reply to a message with a meeting request, inviting everyone who was on the To line in the original message as “Required Attendees”, and everyone on the Cc line as “Optional Attendees”.

One of the steps is to click on the Scheduling button, but as I often notice people do not use this great functionality, missing out on a convenient way to check the availability of all those you want to invite, I felt a separate tip was justified. (And – to be honest – also because the other day I did what I often do …thinking I had sent a meeting request, only to find I had entered it as an appointment, forgetting to invite anybody else.)

Here’s how:

  1. Open the Calendar and click on the New Meeting button. (Or press CTRL + 2 followed by CTRL + N.)
  2. Click on the Scheduling Assistant button.
  3. Click in the box under your own name which reads Click here to add a name and type the name of the (first) person you want to attend the meeting.
  4. If necessary, press CTRL + K  or click on the Check Names button to make sure that it is possible to send the meeting request to the person you specified.
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4 for all remaining attendees.

Depending on the setup of your network, a Scheduling diagram might show the availability and busy times of all attendees.

  1. If free/busy data can be retrieved, select the desired date and time from the Suggested times box underneath the Date Navigator. Alternatively, drag the green and red borders in the Scheduling diagram to a suitable new date and time where everyone is available.
  2. Click on the Appointment button and add a subject, location and any additional information, such links to the agenda stored on a shared drive and/or other reading material (rather than attachments).
  3. Click on the Send button.

By the way, do you add reminders as appointments in your Outlook calendar? If so, be aware they go in as “Busy” (dark blue) which means that people might think you’re not available for a meeting they are trying to organise. If you used the appointment to set aside time to get your work done or to have dedicated time to clean-out and archive messages, update tasks, and adjust your schedule … excellent diary management! Otherwise, you might be better off using Outlook Tasks.

That’s it for this week! If there are topics that you’d like to see covered in future items, please let me know.

Related tips:
Tip 412: Respond to an e-mail message with a meeting request
Tip 350: Set a date using  plain English
Tip 297: Quickly book appointments or meetings longer than half an hour
Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – note to self

11 Feb

Did you ever have a random thought when you were in the middle of reading an email message? Perhaps you remembered an issue you wanted to bring up at the next departmental meeting – or something to add to your shopping list?

You could obviously stop what you’re doing and scribble it down, risking getting side-tracked and derailing your productivity. So why not use Outlook’s Notes functionality to park your idea for easy reference once you’ve read your message?

  1. Press CTRL + SHIFT + N.
  2. Type your thought.
  3. If you want, click on the note icon in the upper left corner of the form and assign a colour category or contact name to the note.
  4. Continue your work as normal.  No need to close the note.

By the way, if you want to use this when you are in the middle of writing an email message, you need to make sure your cursor is in top half (the message form), not in the message area itself.

The Notes folder containing your personal reminders and other messages you sent to yourself can be found at the bottom of the Navigation Pane.

The quickest way to open it is by pressing CTRL + 5. (It’s the fifth item in the Navigation Pane, underneath Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks.) From there it will be easy to print the notes or forward them as attachments. Simply use the right-click menus.

Related tip: Tip # 259: Quickly jump between the various Outlook components

Tame your computer – speed up your bullets

28 Jan

Do you ever create lists of items in Word? For example, a numbered list of agenda items or a bulleted ‘to do’ list? If so, you probably use the Bullets and Numbering buttons on the Home tab. But did you know you can benefit from the “format-as-you-type” feature to quickly start a bulleted or numbered list?

Here’s how:

  1. Move the insertion point to the location where the list is to appear.
  2. Type an asterisk ( * ) or type the first number and press the TAB key.
  3. Type the list items, pressing ENTER at the end of each item.

To cancel the bullet or number, simply press ENTER a second time. This will also remove the indent level.

To keep the indentation, press the BACKSPACE key. If you use BACKSPACE it is very easy to create a combined numbered and bulleted list.

By the way, in step 2 you can also use the SPACEBAR key rather than TAB. But be aware that for numbered lists this only works if you type a number format such as 1. or 1)

Oh, and this numbered format tip works in Outlook as well.

Have a go. It is easier than it sounds!
* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.