Microsoft has introduced a number of new features to Outlook recently that they hope will help with your productivity. A number of them have passed those of us in the UK by, as they are to do with adding flight data for a number of US airlines to calendars and creating itineraries for your trip. However, there are a couple of changes coming that I think could be very useful for your day-to-day email workflow.
A little while ago you will have noticed a new folder appeared in your Outlook called Clutter. I would imagine a lot of you, like me, found this to be a bit annoying and disabled the feature. However, Microsoft has now developed the concept and is in the process of changing Clutter to become Focused Inbox. I think this development is going to be far more useful.
Unlike Clutter that split unimportant emails into a separate folder, Focused Inbox is more of a prioritisation tool keeping everything in your Inbox folder but split between 2 tabs. Outlook classifies the emails as “Focused” or “Other” based on the content and its understanding of who you interact with most often. The emails then appear under the relevant tab. The majority of the time you will of course be looking at the Focused tab, so Outlook will let you know when it’s filtered an email to the Other tab.
We all know that what Outlook might consider important is not necessarily so to us and vice versa. Don’t worry though you can teach it to be more accurate by moving messages between the tabs. To do this right click in the email and click “Move to Focused” or “Move to Other” depending.
This will just move that particular email. But, as you can see, if you want to permanently change how emails from that sender are classified chose “Always move to . . . . . .”
If you aren’t happy with the way Focused Inbox is prioritising your emails and you want to see everything in one place as before, you can turn the feature on and off. Pop to the View tab on the ribbon and there will be a new toggle button called “Show Focused Inbox".
The feature is currently being rolled out by Microsoft and you will get a notification when it’s available. If you are using Clutter you will be asked to switch to Focused Inbox. Once you have done this your emails will be sorted in the Inbox and Outlook will stop sending mail to the Clutter folder. Eventually the Clutter folder will disappear from your Outlook altogether.
The other great feature coming to Outlook in the near future is @mentions. This is designed to make collaboration with colleagues through email much easier.
We all know the scenario. You are communicating to everyone involved in next week’s meeting and you want Janet to bring one thing and John to prepare another. But how do you get that across in the most efficient way, with one email and making it clear which bit is a focus for whom? This is the situation @mentions has been designed to overcome.
When you are writing the email and need to refer to something for a specific person type @ and pick them from the list. Their name will be highlighted in blue so they can spot it easily in the message and know what information is for them.
To make it easier for you to see what messages you have been included in Outlook will add the @ symbol to the message in your email list.
You can also filter emails to just see only messages you have been mentioned in and the preview text will change to the text immediately following your mention rather than the first few lines of the message.
This feature has already been deployed to Outlook on the web and should appear in the desktop version soon.
For those of you who love to like things in Facebook, Outlook on the web now has a button for you to like your emails too.
Clicking on it will let the sender know you liked their email. The button is expected to appear in the desktop version of Outlook soon.