I'm one of those heavy Microsoft Outlook users, currently working on the 2007 version. God knows this tool is heavy and may impose problems. I wondered what the Super User crowd has to suggest in order to improve the usage experience.

Several suggestions of my own:

  1. Always work in cached mode (Tools-->Account Settings-->Change-->Use Cached Exchange Mode)
  2. Use Outlook's local archiving capabilities
  3. Use Outlook's RSS reader - it's simple and allows offline access to your feeds
  4. If you have e-mail subscriptions to magazines, blogs, etc. - create a subdirectory to keep them, and a rule to automatically move them there when they arrive (one rule per subscription, based on the sender e-mail.)

You can also share suggestions that require configuration of Exchange Server, for those of us who can make bring them to their IT managers.

What are your suggestions?

PS: "Use Gmail" is not an accepted answer, some of us don't control what email system we use...


8 Answers 8


I use delayed sending of my mails. You just create a new rule that defers sending of mails by a specified number of minutes.

  • 3
    I delay my emails by 2 minutes as well. I use 3 spaces in the description as a override when I want the email to go out immediately.
    – hanleyp
    Aug 29, 2009 at 16:05
  • Like, in case if you forget to attach a file and notice it only after hitting 'send'? :) Seems like a good idea. Sep 3, 2009 at 9:31
  • @Slink84 - There's probably a macro you can create for checking the text for words like "attachment", "file" etc and checking you've actually got an attachment on the e-mail.
    – ChrisF
    Sep 3, 2009 at 10:44
  • There are also times right after I send an email, I think of something else to write, a way to write something better or change what I said. The 2 minutes delay allows me to go back and edit the message without it having been sent.
    – hanleyp
    Sep 4, 2009 at 21:30

I have a zero Inbox rule. As I read email, I move it to another folder so anything in the Inbox is new and/or actionable. If it is actionable, I usually perform the action and file the email quickly to keep my Inbox empty as much as possible.

Here is my base macro. It moves selected messages in a message pane or current open message to the "Archive Personal Folders" PST file's "Inbox" folder. You'll have to change the PST file name and folder if yours are different. I create macro buttons on the main Outlook toolbar and on the Read Message Window toolbar. It is best if you sign your macros as well.

Sub MoveSelectedMessagesToArchiveInbox()
    On Error Resume Next
    Dim objFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder, objInbox As Outlook.MAPIFolder
    Dim objNS As Outlook.NameSpace, objItem As Outlook.MailItem

    Set objNS = Application.GetNamespace("MAPI")
    Set objInbox = objNS.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set objFolder = objNS.Folders("Archive Personal Folders").Folders("Inbox")

    'Assume this is a mail folder
    If objFolder Is Nothing Then
        MsgBox "This folder doesn't exist!", vbOKOnly + vbExclamation, "INVALID FOLDER"
    End If

    Select Case TypeName(Outlook.Application.ActiveWindow)
        Case "Explorer"
            If Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.Count = 0 Then
                'Require that this procedure be called only when a message is selected
                Exit Sub
            End If

            For Each objItem In Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection
                If objFolder.DefaultItemType = olMailItem Then
                    If objItem.Class = olMail Then
                        objItem.Move objFolder
                    End If
                End If
        Case "Inspector"
            Set objItem = Outlook.Application.ActiveInspector.CurrentItem
                If objFolder.DefaultItemType = olMailItem Then
                    If objItem.Class = olMail Then
                        objItem.Move objFolder
                    End If
                End If
        Case Else
            ' Do Nothing
    End Select

    Set objItem = Nothing
    Set objFolder = Nothing
    Set objInbox = Nothing
    Set objNS = Nothing
End Sub
  • +1: I recently started employing this, and what a difference it makes. It's comforting to know that once my inbox is clean, there's nothing more that needs to be done with my email related tasks. Aug 29, 2009 at 14:55
  • 1
    Of course, at the same time it's still important to keep track of how many e-mails you have to take action on at a later date. I've got an @Action folder full to the brim because I neglect that fact quite often. Aug 29, 2009 at 18:04
  • Same here. I like when everything is clean and organised :) Sep 3, 2009 at 9:30

Right click on Outlooks system tray icon and select "Hide When Minimized". More space for other apps on the taskbar is always welcomed :)


I've added a macro for checking that I've entered a subject before sending.

  1. Press Alt+F11. This opens the Visual Basic editor

  2. On the Left Pane, one can see “Microsoft Outlook Objects” or “Project1″, expand this. Now one can see the “ThisOutLookSession”.

  3. Double click on “ThisOutLookSession”. It will open up a code pane.

  4. Copy and Paste the following code in the right pane. (Code Pane)


Private Sub Application_ItemSend(ByVal Item As Object, Cancel As Boolean)
    Dim strSubject As String

    strSubject = Item.Subject

    If Len(Trim(strSubject)) = 0 Then
        Prompt$ = “Subject is Empty. Are you sure you want to send the Mail?”
        If MsgBox(Prompt$, vbYesNo + vbQuestion + vbMsgBoxSetForeground, “Check for Subject”) = vbNo Then
            Cancel = True
        End If
    End If
End Sub

You'll also have to sign the macro - see my answer to this question.


I like the ability to open more than one Outlook window, for example one for email, one for tasks or calendars, when I am working on those together. Right-click on an item in the Navigation pane:

Outlook Navigation Pane

Select 'Open in New Window'. I was convinced that there was a keyboard shortcut for this, but I can't get it to work from muscle memory, or find it on the web or in the official full keyboard shortcut list!

Alternatively, sticking with one window, but using keyboard shortcuts to move between calendar, contacts, emails etc:

ctrl+1 Switch to Mail.
ctrl+2 Switch to Calendar.
ctrl+3 Switch to Contacts.
ctrl+4 Switch to Tasks.
ctrl+5 Switch to Notes.
ctrl+6 Switch to Folder List in Navigation Pane.
ctrl+7 Switch to Shortcuts.

More generally, what I've found very useful is to learn some of the keyboard shortcuts for the operations I use most often - that saves a considerable amount of time when added up over a day or week, since I spend a lot of time in Outlook. Very complete list here

and also here


In response to Slink84's comment about forgetting to actually attach attachments I've done a quick search and come across this blog entry which describes the process of creating such a macro.

I haven't copied it here as it's quite long.


Recall option is pretty usuful when you forgot something about the mail you've sent.

Sent mail-> double click to a mail -> Other actions -> recall


I have a nightmare of an email box - I use this Clear Context

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