Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Dummies

For most of my life, email was managed in either one of the free email providers (Yahoo and later Gmail) or POP/IMAP that I pulled into a simple email client. So, when I had to work with Microsoft Outlook recently, I was completely lost. Outlook when combined with Exchange is a powerful tool that handles email, calendars, meetings, tasks and notes for individuals and organizations. Quite frankly I was lost in the complex GUI of Outlook and all its features.

To get a quick idea of what is possible in Outlook and how to use it I turned to a familiar friend: Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Dummies. People like to ridicule the Dummies series of books, but Dan Gookin and his kind made software accessible to a lot of people like me. Dummies books, especially by veteran Dummies authors, are funny and fun to read. Bill Dyszel thankfully is no different, having been the author of all editions of the Outlook Dummies books.

This book covered all the important applications of Outlook 2016, only missing out on the notes feature. Earlier chapters cover the basics of using a email client, which can be skipped. Later chapters got into what I was looking for: Outlook specific features, scheduling, tasks and features related to Exchange. On the way I learnt a lot of tips and tricks which I probably would not have discovered otherwise. The only gripe I have about this book are that there are no cartoons by Rich Tennant. This is an easy and fun read full of screenshots.

Rating: 4
ISBN: 9781119076889

Some of the Outlook features I learnt from this book:

  • You can drag and drop anything to anywhere in the UI. For example, drag an email into the calendar icon at the bottom-right to create a calendar event.
  • Clean Up feature on email conversations and email folders can be used to move out emails that repeat in conversations to a specific folder. Reduces the number of emails you need to read.
  • Quick Steps are actions that you can create and add to the ribbon or right-click menu. For example, move to a certain folder is a builtin Quick Step.
  • Quick Parts can be used to reinsert repeatedly used text into emails.
  • You can create your own groups in contacts.
  • Appointments and events are different when it comes to calendars.
  • You can add holidays calendar for any country into your calendar.
  • Regenerating task is a type of task that recur after a task is completed.
  • Items of any tabular view of data can be grouped by one of the fields. Right-click on the column header and choose Group by.
  • Default categories in emails have colors and color names. These color names can be renamed to something more meaningful.
  • Merge to email can be used to create email mailers addressed to the receiver.
  • Scheduling assistant can be used to compare schedules of attendees. Suggested times at the bottom-right shows open timeslots.
  • When responding to a meeting request, you can propose a new time.
  • Voting feature is similar to meeting request, but to take count from a group of people.
  • Use Tracking to check responses from folks on meeting requests and votes.
  • You can assign task to someone else.
  • Out of office message can be set for your vacations with a start and end date. You can have different message for folks inside and outside your organization.
  • MailTips shows by colors and tooltips if any of the folks being addressed in email are on vacation.
  • Quick Access toobar can be customized by adding any function you want.
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