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Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is an email and calendar management software included in Microsoft’s Office Suite of programs. It is used by millions of businesses worldwide and this number is growing every day! It allows colleagues to easily communicate with each other, making coordinating meetings and assignments simpler than ever.

Plenty of people also use this program for personal use; it can even sync with your social media accounts. Learning the ins and outs of this software can be highly advantageous for any employee, regardless of their career. 

Basic Features of Microsoft Outlook

There are countless features available in Outlook, but here are some of the major components that most users take advantage of:

Contact Management: Outlook enables you to import contact information from places like email messages and electronic business cards. You can also add photos for all of your contacts and organize them into groups however you see fit. For example, you can create groups for members of different teams or you can separate personal contacts from business contacts.

Task Management: The ability to keep track of your action items in Outlook is one of its most impressive features. You can create a new task from the quick access bar and assign due dates, reminders for follow-up, and keep track of your progress. This menu also allows you to prioritize tasks and look ahead to make sure you’re aware of upcoming deadlines. 

Calendar Organization: Outlook has a robust calendar feature that you can use to help keep your schedule organized and up-to-date. You can color-code different tasks and make certain tasks recurring if you have to do them regularly. You can also look at the calendars of others to see what their schedules are like before requesting a meeting. 

Email: Outlook makes it easy for you to create out-of-office replies and customized email signatures. For instance, you can create a longer email signature for initial communications and then a shorter signature for replies. Outlook also gives you the ability to delay sending an email and keep it in your outbox. There is also a handy feature that reminds you to send emails with an attachment if your message appears to be missing one. 

Pros and Cons of Using Microsoft Outlook

There are several advantages to using Microsoft Outlook as your email and calendar management system. The program allows you access to the calendars of others in your contacts, making scheduling meetings much simpler and eliminating the need for back-and-forth conversations about availability. You can also flag your emails to help you prioritize your to-do list. The flagging function also lets you choose a timeframe to receive a reminder about each task so you can ensure all follow-up is completed on time. The mobile Microsoft Outlook app is also very intuitive and creates seamless integration with all of your devices. 

While there is plenty to love about Outlook, users have also pointed out some drawbacks over the years. Some feel that the system requirements to run all the different components of Outlook cause lag time on their computers. Along those same lines, some users feel that there are too many features to learn within Outlook; it can be difficult to locate the most helpful tools amid everything available. The program also doesn’t integrate well with programs outside of the Office Suite. For example, if you use Google Calendars for personal use, the process to link both calendars is difficult for some folks to figure out. Finally, like all programs within the Microsoft Suite, Outlook can be cost-prohibitive. A monthly subscription that never ends is daunting, but purchasing the program’s current version means spending that money again when an update is released. 

Reasons to Learn Outlook Skills

Microsoft Office is used by over 60 million businesses worldwide, so if you’re interested in finding a new job, chances are you’ll need to know how Outlook works if you don’t already. Even a few basic skills will help you speed up your workflow and help you stand out as a more efficient employee. If you’re able to list Outlook proficiency on your resume, this may also help you get a leg up when a hiring manager is reviewing applications. 

The bottom line is that the tools within Outlook enable you to be a more productive employee and a good coworker. Knowledge of this program, especially some of its lesser-known capabilities, can be shared with your team to help many internal processes run smoothly. 

Learn Microsoft Outlook With Career Centers

If you’re interested in learning more about what Outlook has to offer, you might consider taking a Microsoft Outlook course with Career Centers. All of these courses are offered in both a remote format and in-person at its campus in New York City. The courses are taught by experienced instructors and students can retake the course for free within one year. 

For complete beginners, there is a Microsoft Outlook Level I class. This class teaches the very basics of Outlook functionality including email setup, calendar management, and sorting your contacts. The school also offers a Microsoft Outlook Level II course. The focus of this course is to help students learn to customize their Outlook interface and learn how to automate processes within Outlook for increased productivity. For those who want to gain skills in other Microsoft programs, Career Centers has a Microsoft Master Certification Program with Outlook available. This 66-hour course covers Outlook as well as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Access. At the end of this course, students will be prepared to take Microsoft certification exams. 

Learn more in these courses

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