More Outlook Self-Help

So you didn't get enough of the Microsoft Outlook tips I provided in "Outlook Self-Help"? Well, here's some more sage advice that you can give your Outlook users.

Tip #1: Color-code your calendar.
I was initially skeptical about the usefulness of the calendar color-coding introduced in Outlook 2002, but now it's one of my favorite features. In the Day/Week/Month view, I can see a separate color for each family member, plus colors for deadlines, appointments that need advance preparation, and dates that involve travel. To mark an appointment with a color label, right-click it in the view, then choose Label and the desired color label. On an open appointment, you'll find the Label drop-down list to the right of the Location field.

To change the text associated with any color, from the main Outlook menu, choose Edit, Label, Edit Labels. Write down a list of your customized calendar color labels, what they mean, and the label's original text. If you want to use the color labels to filter a calendar view, for example, so that you can print all your travel dates, you'll need to know the original label text because Outlook won't show your custom labels in its Filter dialog box.

Tip #2: Use the Query Builder tool to power your filters and searches.
The Query Builder tool lets you use advanced filters and search criteria in Outlook. You can add a Query Builder tab to the Filter and Advanced Find dialog boxes. To do so, in the registry editor, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook subkey (use 10.0 for Outlook 2002 and 9.0 for Outlook 2000) and add a new key named QueryBuilder. In Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, you'll see the Query Builder tab on three different dialog boxes: Filter (View, Arrange By, Current View, Customize Current View, Filter); Advanced Find (Tools, Find, Advanced Find); and the dialog box for search-folder conditions (see tip #4 in "Outlook Self-Help," InstantDoc ID 49730). Like the Filter and Advanced Find dialog boxes, the Query Builder lets you choose Outlook fields that you want to search on. However, the Query Builder lets you use a logical OR, not just a logical AND, to connect conditions, thus letting you create more complex queries than Filter and Advanced Find allow.

Tip #3: Run rules on demand.
Sometimes Outlook rules don't work as expected. Maybe too many messages arrived at one time, or maybe the Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter classified the items as junk, which means that no rules run automatically against those items. But you can still run any rule manually against all the items in a folder. Go to the folder whose items you want to process, choose Tools, Rules and Alerts, then click the Run Rules Now button. (In Outlook 2002, the commands are Tools, Rules Wizard, and Run Now.)

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