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Utilize E-Mail Features

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Written on April 15, 2002 by Robert & Karen Vanderzweerde

Appeared in Greenmaster Magazine

Working Offline

Many people don't realize that you can compose e-mail messages "off-line" (or when you are not connected to the internet). If you have a permanent Internet connection, then it doesn't matter, but if you use a dial-up connection where you pay for the amount of time you are connected, then composing off-line saves you money. Just compose your message and do the first "send" as you normally would. When you exit Outlook, you will get a message that there are messages that have not been sent. That's OK, the next time you are on-line, when you do "Send and Receive" mail, your messages will be sent. For short messages, it probably won't make much difference, but on longer messages or messages that you want to think about and edit, you could save quite a bit of connect time. Similarly, even if you are on-line but have a message that you aren't ready to send, you can save a draft by selecting "File" then "Save". The message will be saved in your "Draft" folder. You can edit it later and send it when you are finished.

Spell Checking

When you send a message, you can spell check it. Do your contacts a favour and make sure you correct your spelling! You can do a spell check at any time by selecting "Tools" and then "Spelling and Grammar". Make it even easier, and set Outlook up to do the spell check automatically. Go to "Tools", then "Options", then click on the "Spelling" tab. You will see an option that says "Always check spelling before sending". Click on that box, and your spelling worries are over!

Importance Setting

You can mark the importance of your message has low, normal or high. Under "View", select "Options", and then pick the importance of your message. You can also mark the sensitivity of your message as normal, personal, private, or confidential. In addition, you can request an automatic message back confirming that your message has been read! In the "Tracking Option" box, click to enable a "read receipt" - very useful for sensitive messages. Just remember that not all e-mail systems support this feature, so the recipient's computer may not be able to respond.

Saving Replies

In the same section ("View, Options") you can also set the Folder that you want the replies to your e-mail sent to, save the message in a different folder, and "post-date" your message (useful for birthday greetings or reminder messages). Just remember that if you use a dial-up connection, you must be connected on the date you select for a post-dated message to be sent!

Cc and Bcc

You can send a copy of your message to as many people as you would like by either entering their e-mail addresses or clicking on them from your address book so they appear in the "Cc" box at the top of your message. You can also send a "blind" copy by using the "Bcc" box, which will appear if you click on "Cc". A blind copy will go to the person you specify, but the original recipient won't know that a copy went to that person.

Replying and Forwarding

When you receive a message, you can reply to the message on the original message without starting a new one. This is useful because it gives both the original message and the response in one message. The message can go back and forth, with more replies and comments being added, as often as needed. It can give you a record of questions and responses. When you read a message that you want to reply to, select the "Reply" button on your toolbar. You can then type your reply into the message. The "Reply" button will send your response to the person who sent you the e-mail. The "Reply All" button will send your response to the original sender and all recipients marked to receive a copy of the message. Make sure you press, "Send" when you are done.

Sometimes you receive a message from someone that you want to forward on to someone else. Use the "Forward" button and enter the e-mail address (either by typing it in or selecting the name from your address book). You can add your comments, if you want. When you are done, don't forget to press, "Send"!

Adding a Signature

To make your messages look more professional, use the "Signature" feature. A signature is a tag line that appears at the end of your message. It can be your name, company name, phone and fax contact information, a quote, slogan, or whatever seems appropriate to you. To create a signature, use "Tools", "Options", and "Mail Format". Click on the "Signature Picker" button to open the dialogue box. Click "New" to create a new signature, give it a name and click "Next". Enter the text for your signature, and then click on "Finish" and "OK" to close the Signature Picker dialogue box. You can set up several signatures that may be appropriate for different messages.

To insert the signature in your message, click where you want the signature to do, and then choose "Insert" then "Signature". You can select the signature that you want from your list. To have a particular signature automatically inserted in all your messages, go to "Tools", then "Options", then "and Mail Format". Click "Use This Signature By Default" and select the signature you want. Click "OK". The message will be added automatically to each e-mail you create. Signatures can be edited or deleted by following the steps in the "Signature Picker" tool.

Sending and Saving Attachments

Sometimes you want to send an attachment along with your e-mail message. An attachment might be a Word or Excel document, a photo, or data from any other program you have on your computer. Prepare your message as you normally would, and then select "Insert File" (the button on the toolbar that looks like a paper clip). You will be given a view of the directories on your computer, browse through and find the file you want to send and double click. A copy will be added to your e-mail, and an icon will appear at the bottom of your message. You can add several attachments to one message. Just remember that the recipient of your message must have the appropriate software to view the attachment - they won't be able to see your photo if they don't have any photo software. Also, if the attachments are very large files, they may not transmit properly.

When someone sends you a message with an attachment, the message is generally saved in your "Inbox". You have to open the message to get at the attachment. This can be inconvenient, even if you have organized your mail into Folders. For example, clients often send me Excel or Word documents that I want to use, edit, and then send back to them. I can save the attachment, separately from the message, by clicking on "File" and then "Save Attachment". You can then save the file properly in the directory that it belongs in and you can access it the way you access files when you use other software.

Try some of these features soon and become an e-mail pro!

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