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What's New in Outlook 2003

Susan Harkins and Mike Gunderloy provide an overview of the new features included in Microsoft Outlook 2003, including custom flag colors for important messages, intelligent grouping, and features to make things easier on Outlook developers.
This chapter is from the book

In this Chapter

  • New look and feel

  • Email management features

  • Productivity enhancements

  • Exchange Server and SharePoint integration

  • Business Contact Manager

Although most of the Office 2003 applications received only a few new toys, Outlook received an extreme makeover. Outlook looks new, has a number of new features—more than any other application in the suite—uses a new storage format and even connects to Microsoft Exchange Server differently. If you use Outlook frequently, the upgrade might be worth just this one application.

Upgraders Beware

Standalone versions of Outlook 2003 don't offer as complete a package as does upgrading the entire Office suite. You can't use Word as the email editor and you'll also lose a few of the more advanced contact features. It kind of makes sense because any feature that relies on another Office application is going to get the boot in a standalone version of Outlook 2003.

New Look and Feel

Outlook's new user interface should definitely improve your outlook. Let's face it, Outlook was a bit clunky before. It still presents some very busy windows, but it's a busy business, so that's acceptable. Now, let's review the new ways you'll view all that data.

Upgraders Beware

If you upgrade from Outlook 98 or Outlook 2000, Outlook 2003 won't import your password. The first time you attempt to send or retrieve mail, Outlook 2003 will prompt you for your password. Enter it and click the Save This Password in Your Password List option.

The New Menus

There are no changes to the File menu, but there are a few to the New command's submenu. There are two new commands: Search Folder and Internet Fax. The Navigation Pane Shortcut item replaces the Outlook Bar Shortcut item.

Read about search folders later in the "Search Folders Create Unique Views" section in this chapter.

There are a few changes to the Folder submenu. First, the Copy Folder Design command is gone. You'll find two new items: Customize This Search Folder and Sharing. The Sharing option lets you share Outlook data via SharePoint Services.

There's only one change to the Edit menu. The Clear command is gone.

The View menu has significant changes due to all the new views. First, Current View is replaced by Arranged By. Also, Go To is gone. There are three new items: Navigation Pane, Reading Pane, and Refresh.

There are lots of changes to the View menu's Current View submenu:

  • New grouping categories include Date Folders, Size, Subject, Type, Attachments, E-mail Account, Importance, and Categories.

  • The following items are gone: Messages, Messages with AutoPreview, Unread Messages, Message Timeline, Define Views, and Format Columns.

Flag replaces By Follow-up Flag; Conversation replaces By Conversation Topic; From replaces By Sender; To replaces Sent To; and Custom replaces Customize Current View.

You'll find one new item on the Toolbars submenu. Selecting Task Pane displays the task pane. All four of the task panes available in Outlook 2003 are reviewed in Chapter 2, "Shared Office Features."

The Favorites menu is gone. Favorite items are now a more permanent feature in the Favorites section of the Navigation pane, which you'll learn about in the next section.

Figure 3.1 shows the new Go menu. All items are new to this version.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 The Go menu is new.

The Tools menu has lost several items: Send/Receive Settings, Dial-Up Connection, Find Public Folder, Out of Office Assistant, and Recover Deleted Items. Sending, receive, and connection items have been moved to the Send/Receive submenu. The Advanced Find item has been moved to the Find command's submenu. Rules and Alerts replaces the previous Rules Wizard command, and Tools on the Web has been moved to the Help menu.

The Find All command is missing from the Actions menu. Also gone are Accept, Tentative, Decline, Propose New Time, and Check Calendar. The Microsoft Outlook (HTML) item on the New Mail Message Using submenu has been replaced by Microsoft Office Word 2003 (HTML). The Microsoft Office submenu now includes a Microsoft Publisher Publication item.

The Junk E-mail submenu has all new commands: Add Sender to Blocked Senders List, Add Sender to Safe Senders List, Add Sender's Domain (@example.com) to Safe Senders List, Add Recipient to Safe Recipients List, Mark As Not Junk, and Junk E-mail options.

Changes to the Help menu are standard throughout all the Office applications. Read more about these changes in Chapter 2.

Three Panes—Lots of Options!

The first thing you'll notice when you open Outlook 2003 for the first time is the new three-paned window, shown in Figure 3.2. Now, you can more easily control what you see and what you don't.

Outlook 2003's new Reading pane is based on Microsoft's eReader technology. As a result, the window resembles a regular piece of paper. Reading email is more like reading a real letter or memo now, as you can see in Figure 3.3.

The larger window is a great improvement over its predecessor, which displayed only a few lines of each email message. The only way to read the entire message was to scroll through it.

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 Outlook now sports three panes of information.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 The new Reading pane resembles a traditional letter or memo.

The new Reading pane eliminates a lot of scrolling because most of the time the pane displays the entire message. In addition, the Inbox displays the same details about each message that it used to, but those details are arranged in two lines instead of one (you can change back to the old one-line view via View, Arrange By, Current View, Customize Current View). Microsoft claims the new arrangement displays 40% more email than Outlook 2002's window.

Expert Advice

Change is often a little uncomfortable, but give the new layout a little time. If you still decide you don't like it, you can return the Reading pane to the bottom of the screen. To do so, select Reading Page from the View menu and then select Bottom. Or, right-click the gray border around the Reading pane and select the Bottom option. This context-sensitive menu contains other customizing options, such as changing the text size and marking mail items.

The Reading pane's default view includes several changes:

  • The message header at the top displays the message's subject text and the sender's name. The recipient is listed just below the sender's name and email address.

  • The Person SmartTag icon, just to the left of the sender's name, lets you know the sender's current online status (using Microsoft Instant Messenger or MSN Instant Messenger). A gray icon means the sender doesn't have an online contact. Right-click this icon to perform a variety of tasks, such as schedule a meeting, add the sender to your Messenger contacts, send email, send an instant message, and so on.

  • The InfoBar tells you whether you've replied to the message and when. When the message contains a meeting request, you can accept or decline in the InfoBar. None of our figures show this information, but it would be just above the sender's name.

Expert Advice

You can turn off the header information in the Reading pane and thereby view even more of the message. To do so, right-click the gray border that surrounds the Reading pane and deselect the Header Information option.

The Navigation pane reduces clutter by exposing just the elements you need, when you need them. Simply click one of the view shortcuts—Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and so on—to update the current data accordingly. These buttons replace the Outlook bar from earlier versions.

The Date Navigator in the Calendar Navigation pane has a new home. Previously, this pane was to the right of the Calendar folder and by default was displayed by the TaskPad. In Outlook 2003, it's no longer a default and it's in the Navigation pane, as shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 Look for the Date Navigator in the Navigation pane.

Expert Advice

Most views are customizable now. Simply right-click anywhere in the view window and select Customize Current View. The resulting list offers a number of options, but only appropriate options are enabled. We won't walk you through each one—it's enough to know the capability now exists. Just spend a little time looking and experimenting so you don't miss something useful.

Interacting with the Date Navigator updates the Calendar view. For instance, Figure 3.4 shows the entire current day so Outlook displays the Day view. If you select a range of days, Outlook updates the Work Week view to display only those days selected in the Date Navigator.

Expert Advice

If you prefer working with the TaskPad in Calendar view, select TaskPad View from the View menu. Doing so launches the TaskPad and moves the Date Navigator to the right.

The Calendar view options are the same, but there are a few new features you'll find useful. First, views indicate the current time and day by displaying an orange bar across the top of the current day's square, as shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 The current day and time are indicated by an orange bar.

A variety of Calendar view options are available in the Navigation pane; the options aren't new, but their placement in the Navigation pane is—saving you the trouble of drilling down through several menu layers to get at the same options. All Calendar folders are displayed in the Navigation pane. The Tasks window presents its own context-sensitive list of views.

Quick Access to Favorite Folders

With all the new views, you'd think everything would always be right at your fingertips in whatever order you want, but that won't always be the case. Chances are you work with a lot of user-created folders and, in Mail view, you might not be able to see all those folders in the My Mail Folders list. That's why Outlook 2003's Navigation pane has a new Favorite Folders list. By default, this list contains the Inbox, Sent Items, and two search folders (Unread Mail and For Follow Up).

You learn more about search folders later in this chapter. Look for the topic in the "Search Folders Create Unique Views" section.

Store your most frequently used folders in the Favorite Folders list so they're quickly accessible, as shown in Figure 3.6. Instead of scrolling through the list of folders in the All Mail Folders list, just click a folder in Favorite Folders.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 The Favorite Folders list offers a quicker route when you have lots of folders.

To add a folder to your Favorite Folders list, right-click the folder and select Add to Favorite Folders. You can remove a folder from the Favorite Folders list by right-clicking the folder and selecting Remove from Favorite Folders. (Folders in the Favorite Folders list are copies; the original folder remains in its default position.)

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