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: [email protected]. Website:

Multitasking is a Myth


Image Source: / Sorosh

If you think you can multitask, think again. Studies are quickly proving that our beliefs about multitasking are all wrong.

What we call multitasking is usually a case of

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well managed serial tasking; that is, switching from one task to another in rapid succession.

You may go back and forth between the same tasks several times over the duration, but you are always focusing on one task at a time, not multiple.

Serial tasking is what most of us do when we think we’re multitasking. We do it because we think we’re being effective, but the problem is, we’re not.

The American Psychological Association has found that because of the way our brains have to shift to recover in serial tasking situations, it can take up to 40% longer than when we single task, particularly for complicated tasks.

It is actually less efficient to try to do multiple things at once. What’s more, they are finding that people who multitask

can remember less than their single tasking counterparts.

Let’s think about it another way. If we could multitask, magic would not work. That’s because a magician relies on sleight of hand and distraction to keep you focused on

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something other than the trick he is performing.

If you could truly multitask, you could focus on both the distraction and the trick, and not miss a beat. Instead you are amazed when the magician does something you didn’t see coming; amazed, because your single-tasking brain can’t connect the dots. (But don’t feel bad, none of ours can.)

If we really can’t multitask, then why do we believe that we can? Because we’re great at fooling ourselves, that’s why.

So today I challenge you to change your belief, and shatter the multitasking myth. Instead, try to be present and in the moment with everything you do. You’ll find that not only are you more productive, but less stressed. And stress is definitely something we could all use a little less of.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you rethink your assumptions. Email: [email protected]. Website: