Outlook

Outlook Productivity Tip: How to Create Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders Menu

Do you feel like you often waste time just searching for emails in Outlook? Did you know that Microsoft understands this pain-point, and created a solution to help? They’re called Search Folders, and by using them, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate emails.

Search Folders are virtual folders that you setup in Outlook, which gives you all email items that match a certain pre-defined criteria. You will typically find them located at the bottom of your Folder List in Outlook, under the RSS feed. Just look for Search Folders in your Folder list.

There are probably a few Search Folders already setup, even if you aren’t using them. By default, Outlook comes with three Search Folders: Categorized Mail, Large Mail, and Unread Mail.

Categorized Mail – This Search Folder will display only those email items categorized by Color Category. In order for this predefined search to work, you will have to change the criteria to the Color Category you are using. To change the criteria, right click on the Categorized Mail folder, click on Customize This Search Folder, click the Criteria button, and define the colors you are using for categorization.

Large Mail – Includes all email items larger than 100 KB.

Unread Mail – Includes all email items that are marked as unread.

However, just because these are the default folders doesn’t mean you need to use them this way. Feel free to create your own folders with the criteria of your choosing.

To create new Search Folders, either: a) Right click Search Folders, and click on New Search Folder OR b) Click on Folder on the Ribbon at the top, and then click on New Search Folder.

The New Search Folder screen will appear. Microsoft has compiled a list of common uses for Search Folders. Select your use from the list. If nothing in the list matches your needs, scroll to the bottom and click on “Create a Custom Search Folder.” Input / verify your specific criteria, then click okay.

When the Search Folder is created, it automatically begins processing the request. Depending on the size of the search and your volume of email, it may take a moment or two to process.

That’s all it takes to setup Search Folders. Once setup correctly and in place, you should find that the amount of time it takes you to search your emails is greatly reduced. And, if you later find that you spend lots of time searching for something else, you can always setup another Search Folder.

What do you use Search Folders for? Leave us a comment telling us about it.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you be more productive with your email and Outlook. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Outlook Productivity Tips: Quick Access Tool Bar

Quick Access Tool Bar

The Quick Access Tool Bar (Above the Ribbon)

There is a little known feature in Outlook 2010 that packs a big punch in terms of productivity – the Quick Access Tool Bar.

Located at the top of Outlook, this menu is very unassuming. In fact, it appears only as a small black arrow with a line above it, but if you put your mouse cursor over top and hover, you will see that the label Customize the Quick Access Tool Bar appears.

The Quick Access Tool Bar allows you to pin frequently used items to the top of Outlook, so that you don’t have to spend time searching for these items in the Ribbon.  In fact, once you setup your Quick Access Tool Bar, you can even minimize and hid the Ribbon, if you no longer wish to look at it.

To setup your Quick Access Tool Bar, click on the black down arrow at the top of Outlook. From here you have two options, you can either click on any of the items shown on the list, to make them appear on your Quick Access Tool Bar, or you can customize and specify the exact buttons you want by selecting More Commands.

It is recommended that you select the items you want on your Quick Access Tool Bar from the More Commands menu, because you have a wider selection of buttons and options to choose from under this menu. This menu also allows you to easily customize the order of your icons.

You can add items from the menu one of two ways. You can either click on the item you want, and then click the add button, or you can double click on the item. You will know you have added it correctly when the item you want appears in the right side column titled Customize Quick Access Tool Bar.

To customize the order of your icons, select the item you want to move up or down on the right hand side, then click the up or down arrows, located at the far right of the screen, in the middle.

Once the Quick Access Tool Bar is setup the way you like it, click on OK, and you’ll see all your icons at the top.

If you would like to minimize the Ribbon, you may do so by clicking on the Minimize Ribbon button, which is a small gray up arrow located on the far right of Outlook, just above the Ribbon (and next to the blue help button). When you hover over the arrow, the screen tip will say Minimize Ribbon.

By setting up your Quick Access Tool Bar with your most frequently used Outlook commands, you avoid wasting time looking under various tabs in the Ribbon searching for what you need. This trick not only saves you time, but can alleviate frustration and aggravation too.  Try it today.

Do you love using the Quick Access Tool Bar? Leave us a comment telling us what commands you like to pin to your bar.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you find smarter ways to use Outlook. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Outlook Productivity Tips: AutoArchive

Outlook 2010 AutoArchiveThe size of your Outlook mailbox increases as emails are sent, received, and stored. You may tuck email into folders manually (or by using QuickSteps) to help keep your inbox more manageable, but overtime these folders will become unmanageable. Keep your email under control, by setting up the AutoArchive feature in Outlook.

The more email you have and store, the larger your Outlook file becomes, taking longer to access. If you find that your email takes forever to open in the morning, or you just can’t find what you’re looking for in all those subfolders you’ve created, then it’s time to turn on AutoArchive.

AutoArchive allows you to manage and process your old email automatically, without spending hours sorting and deleting. You may set your settings to either archive or delete old email items, depending on your needs and preferences.

To setup AutoArchive:

In Outlook 2010:

  • Click on Folder at the top of Outlook.
  • Click on the AutoArchive settings button.
  • Select the option “Archive this folder using these settings”.
  • Then, designate how often you would like the AutoArchive in months, weeks, or days.
  • Either allow old items to be moved to the default archive folder, or choose a location where you would like your items archived to.
  • Click OK.

In Outlook 2010, the default archive folder will be listed under “Archives” in your folder list.

Older Versions of Outlook:

  • Click on Tools at the top of Outlook
  • Select the Other tab
  • Click on AutoArchive
  • Click Enable AutoArchive.
  • Configure settings.
  • To configure settings for individual folders (inbox, calendar, sent items, etc.) right-click on the folder, and choose Properties. Then click the AutoArchive tab.
  • Click OK.

In Outlook 2007 and 2003, the default archive folder will be listed under “Archive Folders” in your folder list.

Once AutoArchive is setup, it will help you keep your Outlook running its best automatically. Over time, if you find Outlook is slow to open, or your email folders are getting to large, revisit your AutoArchive settings and adjust as needed. And don’t forget to look in your Archive folder when locating an email that is older than the time specified in your AutoArchive settings.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in making technology easier to understand.  Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.