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Routing Messages with Quick Steps

You can use Outlook’s Quick Steps feature to perform multiple actions on your email messages with just one click. For example, you might want to flag a message for follow up later and move it to a special folder. Rather than do the two actions separately, why not do them at the same time? That’s where Quick Steps come into play.

Outlook stores Quick Steps in the Quick Steps gallery on the Home tab when you’re using the Mail module. You can scroll through the gallery to view them or expand the gallery to view all of them at once. Outlook even includes a few preset Quick Steps you can take advantage of:

  • Move To—If you find yourself moving messages to the same folder over and over, designate it as the Move To folder and use this Quick Step to immediately relocate messages.
  • To Manager—This opens a message form that’s automatically preset with a designated recipient, such as your manager (hence the name), along with the forwarded message.
  • Team Email—Use this Quick Step to send a new message to everyone on a team. All the member’s email addresses are saved and preloaded in the form window, ready to go.
  • Done—This marks the selected message as read, completed (with a Mark Complete flag), and moves it to a designated folder—three things at once.
  • Reply and Delete—This one opens a reply form to send back a reply and also moves the original message to the Deleted Items folder.

To practice using one of the default Quick Steps, you can try out the one that moves messages. While viewing your Inbox messages in the Mail module, select the message you want to dispatch (click it or tap it to select it). Next, make sure the Home tab is displayed and click the Move to: ? Quick Step from the Quick Step gallery, as shown in Figure 5.6. If the Move to: ? option isn’t in view, scroll through the gallery to locate it.


FIGURE 5.6 Use the Quick Steps gallery to apply automated tasks to your messages.

When you activate the option, the First Time Setup dialog box appears, similar to Figure 5.7. The same box opens for some of the other Quick Steps the first time you use them. That’s because you need to specify people or folders first so Outlook can carry out the actions. To designate a folder to move the selected message to, click the drop-down arrow and specify a folder name.


FIGURE 5.7 Use the First Time Setup dialog box to tell Outlook which folder to move messages to.

The Mark as Read check box is also conveniently selected. You can leave it checked if you want to consider the message read; uncheck it if you want to move it and treat it as not read yet.

Finally, click the Save button. Outlook saves the folder name as your designated folder and adjusts the Quick Step name accordingly. The next time you want to move a message, click the option listed in the Quick Steps gallery, and Outlook takes care of the relocation for you. You can use the Quick Steps gallery on the Home tab to make your selection, or you can right-click the message, choose Quick Steps, and then choose the name of your step.

As you can imagine, you can create different Quick Steps to handle various ways you want to process email messages. You can move, copy, and delete messages, change their status from read to unread, assign categories and flags, generate automatic message responses, turn them into appointments, and so on. You can assign as many actions to a Quick Step as you want.

To build a custom Quick Step, choose the Create New option from the Quick Steps gallery. This opens the Edit Quick Step dialog box, shown in Figure 5.8, and you can choose actions, folders, even type out ToolTip text to pop-up to remind you what the step does when you hover the mouse pointer over the Quick Step name. Yes, those Microsoft people have thought of everything.


FIGURE 5.8 Build your own Quick Steps with the tools in this dialog box.

You can open the Manage Quick Steps dialog box (see Figure 5.9) to make changes to actions associated with Quick Steps or remove Quick Steps you no longer want. From the Quick Steps gallery, select the Manage Quick Steps option to display the dialog box. Choose which Quick Step you want to edit, then click the Edit button to make changes to the associated actions, or click the Delete button to remove it entirely from the list. You can also duplicate a Quick Step and tweak it slightly to create a new step. Go wild and make Quick Steps for everything—it’s fun.


FIGURE 5.9 Manage your Quick Steps from this dialog box.

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