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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Outlook with Exchange Server

This Blog assumes you are using Exchange Server.

Although Outlook can be used as a stand-alone email client, it really shines when used in conjunction with Exchange Server. With Exchange server, you can perform a lot of tasks that are not available with web-mail based services such as Hotmail and Gmail. Although these services may have similar features, often the features do not work properly. For example, you cannot request a delivery receipt from a Gmail user, as Gmail will not return such a request.

Exchange Server is managed by the IT department, who define disk quotas, manage archiving, and keep track of threats.

If you are using Exchange Server, you will be able to do the following reliably:

  • Send Out of Office auto replies
    • If you do not want to be available, auto-replies are a great way to tell people you will not be able to respond
  • Request Read and Delivery receipts.
    • Although this feature may be available if you are using POP3 or IMAP, these web-based services may not support the feature, or may, without warning, stop supporting the feature.
  • Set up a survey using Voting Buttons
    • Voting buttons let you ask others questions and receive responses. Some webmail services offer support for this, but not others.
  • View calendars of others with ease
    • Although you can view shared calendars on the internet through such tools as Google calendars, Exchange makes this process a lot easier. You can see details, decide who sees what you are doing and who does not, and schedule meetings.
    • You can schedule resources and locations
    • Group calendars together to see the schedule of an entire group in one place and with only a couple of clicks.
  • Assign tasks and keep task status up-to-date
    • This is a tool that, once you start using it, you will not be able to stop. I have yet to see any webmail system support this.
  • View and work with Contacts for the organization
    • With Outlook 2010, all of your contact’s recent emails, meetings, and attachments are just one click away.
  • Retrieve email in in the Cloud
    • Exchange allows you to receive email anywhere.
  • Retrieve unread mail.
    • A feature that comes in handy every once in a while is the ability to retrieve mail that you realize you should not have sent. Usually you realize this less than a second after it leaves your Outbox.
  • Public Folder Access
    • You can collect, organize, and share files and Outlook items with others in your organization. You can, for example, share a contact or a task list with a person or group.
  • Delegate Access to your Email
    • This is great if you are out of the office, or if you need someone to manage your email.

As you can see, Exchange Server puts Outlook on steroids. There are a couple of different versions of Exchange Server, and some of the features may vary slightly with each version. For example, you may be allowed to create more rules with the latest version. On the whole, however, the list above describes Outlook on any version of Exchange Server.

If your organization does not have the funds to purchase Exchange Server, you can purchase instead a service from Microsoft, Hostway, Rackspace, or any number of online hosting companies that give you an Exchange Account, the ability to manage that account, and may offer other complimentary services such as SharePoint.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Outlook

Outlook is a tool that provides an opportunity for you to organize many aspects of your personal and business life. The email features alone are very impressive, and provide more features than most other email programs. If you learn how to use these features, you will not need another email program.

Outlook is divided into four main modules: Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks. They are integrated in such a way that you can communicate with others from any of those modules. For example, you can plan a meeting with others, assign tasks, and share contact information. You can even organize all your information in every way conceivable.

A couple of other modules round out Outlook: Notes and Journal. These are not often used, but are available to those who want to keep track of simple notes and view a timeline of their work.

Throughout these lessons, you will learn about all the benefits of using Outlook. However, there are some limitations to this program that need to be laid out now and during the course.

First of all, Outlook is not the best contact manager. In fact, it doesn’t even come close. It is great for personal use if you are tracking friends, and you don’t care where they work. Also, it is fine if you are only using the contacts as an address book. It is not, however, good at keeping track of leads, phone conversations, or follow-up. If a business, for example, moves, you have to change the business address of all your contacts who work for that company. If you want to track phone calls, the journal feature is not fully integrated with the contacts feature.

Sharing calendars with others is not transparent, and requires a bit of setup if you are not using Microsoft’s Exchange Server. And this brings up another point … if you are not using Exchange Server, many of the features simply do not work with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and even Hotmail.

The best way to use Outlook is in an organization that has an Exchange Server with shared contacts and calendars. For better contact management, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is great for sales teams, and does integrate with Outlook.

If you need to manage contacts on a stand-alone system (without Exchange Server), then Business Contact Manager is a great free tool from Microsoft that integrates with Outlook.

If you are planning to use Outlook, you have made a good choice. Consider using Exchange Server to get the most out of it, and Dynamics CRM if you need to use contacts for more than just an address book.

I will cover more of the strengths and weaknesses of Outlook throughout these lessons.



© 2012 FastOffice Computer Training

Overview of Outlook Window

The Outlook window consists of the following items:

  • Quick Access toolbar
  • Name Bar
  • Ribbon
  • Backstage (File)
  • Navigation Pane
  • Status Bar
  • To-do pane/bar
  • Main window
  • Reading Pane
  • People Pane
  • Various Modules

The following describes the purpose of each of these items:

  • Quick Access toolbar
    • The Quick Access Toolbar is located on the title bar (right at the top next to the edge of your screen).
    • By default, it contains a few buttons that you might want to use frequently.
    • You can add more buttons by clicking the more button beside the Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Name Bar
    • This shows the name of the Outlook PST file you are using, the name of the program (Outlook in this case), and the size and close icons.
  • Ribbon
    • A new graphical layout displaying a list of available features and tools. The Ribbon contains several tabs organized based on what you are doing. Common buttons are grouped together. When referring to a button, the name of the tab is stated first, followed by the name of the group, then finally the button. For example, the Home tab, Respond group, Reply button.
  • Backstage (File)
    • The File tab displays the backstage, a set of commands that were previously accessed from the File menu. It takes up the entire Outlook Window, and lets you perform the following background and printing tasks:
      • Save as a different name
      • Get information about a pst file
      • Use cleanup tools
      • Manage rules and alerts
      • Open and import various files and items
      • Print
      • Get help
      • Set options
      • Exit
  • Navigation Pane
    • Helps you move between modules
    • Shows list of folders
  • Status Bar
    • A great place to look should Outlook seem to be running slow. Displays information about objects that you have selected, such as the number of messages in a folder. Also shows progress of send receive. To add items, right click on the status bar for a list, and select those items you want to display.
  • To-do pane/bar
    • Displays a calendar (days with appointments are bolded), a list of upcoming appointments, and a list of to-do and flagged items.
  • Main window
    • Displays the list of items in the selected module or folder.
  • Reading Pane
    • Displays the contents of the list item selected.
  • People Pane
    • Displays information about those the message was sent from and sent to. Information includes their contact data if you have it in your contacts folder.
  • Various Modules
    • Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Journal, Folders

Overview of Outlook

Communication is one of those things I teach at a private college. It is a good topic to teach alongside Office skills, as Office is, essentially, a communication tool. All of it—not just Outlook. When we write, create lists, chart data, and crunch numbers, we are communicating ideas, discoveries, and findings.

Email is often used as the method to deliver such communication, and Outlook is used by more businesses to manage email.

But Outlook is more than an email tool. It helps you plan meetings, schedule appointments, create to-do lists, remember notes, and journal your activities. Though you can do all of these things for yourself, you can also share these things.

With Outlook 2010, social networking has been integrated. You can view others’ Facebook status, tweets, and manage your communication with contacts in greater detail. You can do almost everything in Outlook from the contacts module, from email to scheduling appointments.

In the next few weeks, you will learn how to use Outlook to manage your email, contacts, calendar, and your social network. I hope you are looking forward to this as much as I am.