Get the Most out of Microsoft Outlook

article_outlook

Outlook is surely one of Microsoft’s most popular products, widely recognized as a standard application alongside Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Bundled inside Microsoft Office, Outlook is the personal information manager component of the ubiquitous office suite, blending email, contact management, a calendar, and task management into one package.

Here are some tips to ensure you are making the most out of this popular application:

  1. Use Outlook with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Sharepoint.
    Microsoft Outlook is a rich and powerful tool on its own, but when used with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Sharepoint, it provides enhanced functions for collaboration within organization, such as the ability to share mailboxes and calendars. With Exchange, you can create shared folders for important email communication and company-wide memos, as well as invite others to meetings and share your availability information. You can even create a company-wide address book of key contacts for shared use. With Microsoft Sharepoint, you can post all of this information in the company Intranet, and even expose some of this information to customers and partners in the company extranet or public website – allowing you to share information and collaborate more easily with people outside of the organization as well.
  2. Use Outlook Web Access.
    If you don’t have access to your PC, such as when traveling, you can still use Outlook if you use it with Exchange. Just access Outlook Web Access (OWA) using your browser and any internet connection. OWA is the webmail service of Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0 and later, packaged as a part of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and previous versions of Exchange. Its interface resembles the interface in Microsoft Outlook.
  3. Sync your data.
    Because of the popularity of Outlook, there is a host of third-party applications and plug-ins you can use to sync your data. Always on the go? Sync Outlook with your mobile phone, PDA, and even your iPOD or Blackberry. Want to have your data accessible on any PC or device? Sync your email and calendar data to hosted services such as Google Calendar or Google Apps. Need to call a contact from your desktop? No problem – Outlook can integrate with Skype to allow you to do one-click calling from Outlook. Want integration with your company applications and systems? A host of enterprise applications from billing and accounting, CRM, and even ERP systems can sync key data such customer contact information to Outlook.
  4. Use add-ons.
    Many other third-party add-ons and plug-ins are available for Outlook to further expand its already considerable features. One favorite is a tool called Xobni (Inbox in reverse), which allows you to more easily search and organize your inbox. Google Desktop plugs in to Outlook so that you can search the web, your desktop files, and your email and file attachments from within Outlook in one place. There are many more available to check out.
  5. Learn Outlook inside and out.
    Dozens of websites provide useful tips on how to complete tasks faster, make your experience with the application smoother, and simplify your workflow. A good place to start is Microsoft’s website, which regularly offers handy, free tips for using Outlook to its fullest.

Microsoft Outlook is widely used because it is a robust and versatile tool for information management, not only for individual users but for groups within an entire business as well. Time spent learning how to maximize its use is well worth it in terms of saved time and increased productivity. Call us now for ideas on how to get started!

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