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Introduction to Microsoft Outlook 2007

Posted by: Minal Agarwal , on 7/14/2007, in Category Outlook 2007
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Abstract: Microsoft Outlook has been primarily known as a popular email program. However, this feature packed application also provides us with other utility programs like Calendar, Notes and Tasks and so on. In this article I will introduce you to the various Microsoft Outlook 2007 features.
Introduction to Microsoft Outlook 2007
Life has become busy and intricate. So in such a hectic life you may find it difficult to remember your odd jobs, important contacts, and addresses and the like. One of the best solutions to this issue is to use Microsoft Outlook 2007.
Features of Outlook 2007
Most of us are aware of Outlook as an email program provided by Microsoft. But apart from the email utility you can also schedule your meetings in calendars, maintain contact details and keep track of the tasks to be completed; define due dates and set reminders to help you finish them in time. You can also make your own notes. The combination of all these features together and the interaction between them make Microsoft Outlook powerful.


Let us take a quick tour of Outlook 2007.
Mail stores incoming and outgoing e-mails in different folders. You can create your own folders and organize your mails. Outlook lets you search for mails and sort them as per your need. It also provides an additional facility of previewing your email attachments without having to open them completely to avoid any virus threat.
Calendar stores all your appointments, meetings, events and allows you to view them in daily, weekly or monthly format. Calendar also displays the Daily Tasks in the same view.
Contacts records all the details like name, address, telephone number, mobile number, e-mail addresses, web pages and so on. This makes it easy to keep track of the information about the people you know.
Tasks maintain all the jobs that you need to do, may be now or later. Tasks could be divided into To-Do List and Tasks. To-Do List are quick notes about things to be done whereas tasks are more detailed with particulars like task start date, due date, status, percent complete, priority, owner and reminder.
Notes help you make a note of small pieces of information which you need to refer to, like password and so on. Outlook also allows you to post these notes on Windows desktop as they need to be referenced all the time.
Journal tracks activities related to particular contacts and offers an easy mode to review them. You can trail e-mails sent to a specific contact, calls made to the contact, etcetera.
NOTE: MicrosoftOutlook 2007 is a part of Office 2007 suite and hence it is designed to work with its sister applications. So you can use the addresses in Contacts from Outlook 2007 to create letters in Word 2007 or you can insert a Word document or Excel data in Outlook.
Outlook 2007 Interface
The user interface of Outlook 2007 has got a new look. At the top you have the standard menu bar with File, Edit and View menus and just below it you have the standard toolbar. The Standard toolbar is a context sensitive ribbon. This means that the buttons and commands on it change depending upon your selection as you move around in the application. For instance the toolbar would look as shown in image below by default or when you choose the Mail module.
Outlook Mail Module
It would look different if you choose the Calendar module, see the image below:
Outlook Calendar Module
The New button on the toolbar is constant no matter where you go, though the functionality differs as you move around various categories.
The main window is divided into different panes.
Navigation Pane:This is the leftmost pane in the main window. You can use navigation pane to hop around quickly within the application. This pane is divided into two portions. The upper portion is further divided into various sections depending upon the module selected from the list of categories given in the lower portion. The categories in the lower portion are Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Folder List, Shortcuts and Journals. For example if you choose the module Mail, the top portion of the navigation pane is divided into two sections - Favourite Folders and Mail Folders.
You can jump around in the different parts of mail by clicking on folders like Inbox, Drafts or Outbox from the Mail Folders section. Similarly the bottom section of the pane can be used to navigate to the other parts of the application by clicking on the categories. You can choose to display or hide the categories displayed in the Navigation pane. Click on the down arrow at the bottom of all the categories in the navigation pane, as shown in the image below to get a menu of options.
Category List
Show More Buttons and Show Fewer Buttons allow you to choose the module buttons to be displayed.


Navigation Pane Options...opens the following dialog box.
You can choose the order of display of the buttons from this dialog box.
Add or Remove Buttons menu lets you choose the buttons.
 Add Remove
The navigation pane is useful to move around, but sometimes when you want to read mails, the main window may look small. Hence you can minimize this pane by clicking on the ‘<<’ (double arrows) as shown below:
Navigation Pane
Now you can see the navigation pane is much narrower, but you can still do the same actions that you could do when this pane was expanded. The icons on this pane are visible and as you hover your mouse over them the tooltip shows what that icons represents.
Navigation Pane
You can maximize the pane in the similar way as you minimized it.
TIP: The Go menu from the menu bar also lets you navigate between various folders.
To-Do Bar:This is the rightmost pane in the window which is already minimized. Clicking on the ‘<<’ (double arrows) maximizes the pane. It gives you a quick summary of your calendar, any upcoming appointments or meetings scheduled and your task list to remind you of your upcoming engagements.
Message List and Reading Pane:This is the middle area in the window where you can view your mails, calendar and notes and so on. The structure of this pane changes depending upon the module selected. For example, if module is chosen as Mail, this pane is further divided into two vertical sections, left pane known as Message List displays the contents of the folder chosen in the navigation pane. If Inbox is selected then the Message List displays a list of emails and few lines of information of the mails present in inbox. The right hand side, the Reading pane shows the contents of the mail that you focus on from the inbox (or any folder that is selected in navigation pane). This is depicted in the image below:
You can use the scroll bar of the Reading pane to scroll through the entire e-mail. It is possible to reply, forward, open the attachments and perform similar operations while previewing the mail in the Reading pane. Similarly you can use the scrollbar in the Message list to scroll though the entire list of mails.
NOTE: Opening an e-mail in its own window is different from previewing an e-mail in the Reading pane. While previewing an e-mail you can determine if the mail is a potential virus, and can delete it without causing any harm to your system. Opening an e-mail in its own window will be covered in a later article.
On the contrary if you choose the Calendar or Notes, the whole pane is occupied by the calendar or notes.
If the Reading pane is hidden, you can still preview the contents of your e-mail using a feature called AutoPreview. To turn on AutoPreview choose View menu > AutoPreview. AutoPreview provides an alternative to using the Reading pane, since it displays first three lines of your mail below the message header in the Message List. This helps you rapidly scan and decide which mail to open.
Preview Attachments
Opening attachments can sometimes be unsafe since the attachments may contain ActiveX controls and scripts that may cause problems on your system. One of the ways to avoid this is to preview the attachment instead of opening it. When an attachment is previewed in Outlook, any scripts and macros are automatically restricts them so that they don’t harm your system. Mails that have attachments show a small paper clip icon in the Message list. To preview the attachment click on the file name displayed as attachment above the mail in the reading pane. If a warning is thrown, click on the Preview button in the Reading pane to view the contents of the attachment. To switch back to the mail, click the Message button on the InfoBar.
To preview or open the attachment alternatively you can right click on the file name attached in the reading pane and choose to preview, open, print, save as, remove, etc.
This was an introduction to the user interface that has been introduced in Outlook 2007. I hope this article was helpful for you to start knowing and working with Outlook 2007.
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Minal Agarwal, Expression Web MVP, MCDST, works as a freelance web designer (SaffronStroke) working on Expression Web, Photoshop and other Graphical tools. As a hobby, she also runs a famous Food site called Follow her on twitter @ saffronstroke

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Feedback - Leave us some adulation, criticism and everything in between!
Comment posted by Elizabeth on Friday, September 19, 2008 12:49 AM
I have just got MS Office 2007 and when typing an email I accidentally hit a combination of keys that brought up the horizontal ruler at the top of the email. Do you think I can duplicate this again?! I have looked everywhere for instructions how to display the ruler permanently in a blank email. Can you help me please?

Many thanks
Comment posted by Minal Agarwal on Sunday, September 21, 2008 4:08 AM
When you compose a new message, check out for a mail like icon on the top right corner of the window (below subject and towards the vertical scroll bar). Click on it and you will get the ruler again.
Comment posted by Janet on Tuesday, March 3, 2009 8:31 PM
In the previous version of outlook when you have a contact opened, you could click on the Word icon and a new document would open with the contacts name and address at the top of the Word document.  I cannot find this feature in Outlook 2007.  Does it exist?

Aloha - Janet
Comment posted by K. Schreck on Sunday, May 27, 2012 7:10 AM
Thank you!  I have used numerous e-mail applications over the years but not Outlook.  I just started a new job that requires extensive use of Outlook 2007 and have taken an online class but your overview provides exactly what I need for quick reference