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Managing Folders in Outlook 2007

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Patricia DiGiacomo introduces you to the basics of storing Outlook information and teaches you how to manage that information. Learn how to navigate in Outlook's new interface, create folders, move and copy information between folders, and manipulate folder properties to fine-tune your folders.

In this chapter

  • Understanding How Outlook Stores Information 40
  • Using the Navigation Pane and Folder List 44
  • Using and Managing Folders 52
  • Understanding Folder Properties 56
  • Managing Data Within Folders 65
  • Using Multiple Personal Folders Files 69
  • Folder Home Pages and Web Views 71
  • Troubleshooting 76
  • Improving Your Outlook 76

Understanding How Outlook Stores Information

Email has become one of the most popular communication mediums for its ease of use and almost instantaneous delivery. The rapid growth of email has lead to a new phenomenon: email glut. You can easily become overloaded with information and not be able to find any of it. The medium that was supposed to make you more efficient and save time can turn against you if you don't manage it effectively. This chapter introduces you to the basics of storing Outlook information and teaches you how to manage that information so that email becomes a time saver instead of a time waster. You'll learn how to navigate in Outlook's new interface, create folders, move and copy information between folders, and manipulate folder properties to fine-tune your folders.

Where Does Outlook Store Information?

Outlook stores information in folders. These folders aren't the same types of folders that you use in Windows to store documents, spreadsheets, and pictures. These folders are stored either on an Exchange Server or in the file system within a Personal Folders file. If you're not using an Exchange Server, your Outlook data is always stored in a Personal Folders file. This file has the file extension .pst and can be stored on your local machine or on a network share. A Personal Folders file isn't quite the same as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. It stores all your Outlook folders, email messages, calendar entries, contacts, tasks, journal items, and notes within its structure.

Using a Personal Folders File

You'll use a Personal Folders file whenever you don't store your email on an Exchange Server. If you use Outlook to access POP3, IMAP4, or HTTP accounts, you'll use a Personal Folders file. However, even if you use Outlook to access an Exchange account, in some circumstances you'll still use a Personal Folders file.

If you don't know whether you're using a Microsoft Exchange Server or a Personal Folders file, you can check your default delivery location. Select Tools, Account Settings to display the Account Settings dialog box (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 A POP3 account uses a Personal Folders file as its default delivery location.

If you see the words Personal Folders beside the Change Folder button, you are using a Personal Folders file. The Account types IMAP, POP, and HTTP use a Personal Folders file as their default storage location.

If you're using an Exchange Server, you can still specify your delivery location to be your Personal Folders file, but doing so will remove all Outlook items from the server.

By default, your Personal Folders file contains the following folders:

  • Calendar—Stores meeting requests, appointments, and events.
  • Contacts—Stores contacts and distribution lists.
  • Deleted Items—Stores items that have been deleted from all other Outlook folders.
  • Drafts—Stores items that are in process. You can compose an email message and save it to Drafts if you want to come back to it and work on it later.
  • Inbox—Stores all received email.
  • Junk E-mail—Stores all email Outlook marks as junk.
  • Journal—Stores various types of journal entries.
  • Notes—Stores items that operate much like a sticky note.
  • Outbox—Stores messages that have been queued for sending.
  • Sent Items—Stores all sent email.
  • Tasks—Stores tasks and task requests.

Outlook's user interface is designed to show you only the types of items you're interested in based on the type of folder you choose. When you select Mail in the Navigation Pane, Outlook shows only folders that contain mail items in the folder list (see Figure 3.2). Those folders are Deleted Items, Drafts, Inbox, Junk E-mail, Outbox, and Sent Items, as well as any custom mail folders you've created and any Search folders. You can select other types of folders, such as Calendar, Tasks, or Contacts, by clicking their banners in the Navigation Pane.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 This window shows a Personal Folders mail view.

Outlook's default Navigation Pane displays banners for Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks. Below the banners, you'll find buttons for Notes, the Folder List, and Shortcuts. By default, the Journal icon is hidden. Click the Configure Buttons icon at the bottom right of the Navigation Pane (it looks like a small down arrow) and then select Add or Remove Buttons to control the look of your Navigation Pane.

Using Exchange Server

If you're part of a large corporate network, you might use a Microsoft Exchange Server to store your mail. An Exchange Server offers several benefits. It serves as a central location for all messaging items, it's usually backed up on a regular schedule, and it can provide the capability to share Outlook folders with other individuals on the Exchange Server. An Exchange Server also offers a public folder message store that's accessible to anyone who has an account on the Exchange Server as well as a Global Address List.

As you saw in Figure 3.1, you can check your Account Settings to determine whether your emails are stored on the Exchange Server. If your account type is Microsoft Exchange, you're using an Exchange Server. Otherwise, you're using a Personal Folders file.

Storage Limits

The growth and availability of high-speed Internet access and popularity of digital cameras have greatly increased the amount of data people want to store in their email. When Aunt Irma gets her new digital camera and sends you daily pictures of her cat, you can easily consume multiple megabytes' worth of space in your Personal Folders file or Exchange mailbox. PowerPoint presentations may be more than 50MB if they contain a large number of pictures. To keep email access relatively quick and keep network administrators happy, both Personal Folders files and Exchange mailboxes can have storage limits.

In older versions of Outlook, prior to 2003, the size limit for a Personal Folders file was 2GB. Outlook 2002 introduced a warning message when a Personal Folders file reached 1.82GB in size, informing users that if they didn't immediately clean up their folder, they would likely lose data.

Outlook 2007 supports the same two Personal Folders file formats as Microsoft Outlook 2003. The standard format is an Office Outlook Personal Folders file that supports multilingual Unicode data. This type of Personal Folders file can grow to around 33TB (yes, that's terabytes). The legacy Personal Folders file format compatible with Outlook 97–2002 still has a size limit of 2GB.

Versions of Outlook prior to 2003 cannot access the standard Outlook 2007 Personal Folders file. If you need to share data between Outlook 2007 and a version of Outlook prior to 2003, be sure to store your data in an Outlook 97–2002 compatible Personal Folders file.

When creating a new Personal Folders file, your system administrator might dictate the maximum allowable size. For example, when your system administrator performs an administrative installation of Outlook 2007, the default size limit for a Personal Folders file is 10GB. The system administrator can change this size limit.

Other Storage Locations

In addition to storing Outlook items in a Personal Folders file, Outlook uses several other locations to store information. Some information, such as Most Recently Used (MRU) lists for meeting locations and files, is stored in the Windows Registry. Other Outlook information, such as exported rules and toolbar customizations, is stored in files found on your hard drive.

For more information on rule storage, see "Creating Rules," p. 652.

For more information about toolbar customizations, see "Customizing Command Bars," p. 122.

For more information about Outlook and the Windows Registry, see "Outlook's Files, Folders, and Registry Keys," p. 915.

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