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Using Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook builds on the capabilities of Outlook Express.  While Outlook Express is only for e-mail, Outlook includes calendars, tasks, notes, and the ability to share information with other people.  This article will give you a quick glance of what is different in Outlook.

If Outlook is not set up on your computer, please see Setting Up Outlook.


The primary way to navigate in Outlook is by using the Outlook Bar.  The Outlook Bar is the row of icons along the left side of the screen.  You can also use the folder list.  The folder list usually appears next to the Outlook Bar.  If it doesn't, then it is hidden.  To get it back, click on the name of the current folder in the dark gray bar, marked by the red circle in the picture at the right.  The folder list will open.  To keep it open, click on the push pin at the top left corner of the folder list.


E-mail functions the same way, for the most part.  The only major difference is the way you delete messages.  In Outlook Express, you had to "delete and purge".  In Outlook, when you delete a message, it goes to the Deleted Items folder.  This is similar to the Recycle Bin.  From time to time, you need to empty the deleted items.

  • Method #1:  Click on the Tools menu, then click on "Empty Deleted Items Folder".
  • Method #2:  Click on the Deleted Items folder in the folder list.  Delete the messages individually.
  • Method #3:  You can set Outlook to automatically ask you to empty the deleted items folder when you exit the program.  To do this, click on the Tools menu, then choose Options.  Click on the "Other" tab.  Find a checkbox that says "Empty the deleted items folder upon exiting."

If you already know how to use Outlook Express, Outlook's e-mail is very similar.  You will have no trouble making the switch.


Outlook includes a calendar that you can use to keep track of your schedule.  To access your calendar, click on Calendar in the Outlook Bar.

You can also give other people access to your calendar so they can see your schedule.  If someone else has granted you access to their calendar, you can open theirs as well.

Click for information on:


The Address Book in Outlook Express has become Contacts in Outlook.  They work very much the same way.

Another difference with Outlook is that it will automatically look up e-mail addresses on the server.  For example, if you want to send e-mail to me, you could just type Philip McNaull.  You don't have to type out the whole e-mail address, and you don't have to add me to your address book first.


Tasks is like a to-do list.  You can add items to the Tasks and then cross them off when you are finished.  Click for more information on using Tasks.


Notes are like sticky-notes that you can put all over your screen to remember or keep track of things.  You can even change the color of the sticky-note after you write on it!  (Click on the menu at the top left corner of the note.)

Out of Office Assistant

The Out of Office Assistant will automatically reply to e-mail messages you receive when you are away from the office.  Setting it up is easy.  Click for more information on using the Out of Office Assistant.

Public Folders

Public folders are visible to many people on the server.  So far, we haven't set up very many public folders; but we probably will in the future.  To access them, open the folder list.  At the bottom, you will see an icon for public folders.  Click on the "+" to the left of Public Folders to expand the list (marked by the red circle).  Now, click on the "+" next to "All Public Folders".  You may see several folders or none at all, depending on your job and your building.  Click on one of these folders to open it.

Do I need to back up my data in Outlook?

Usually, no.  By default, Outlook stores all its data on the server, so it is backed up automatically every weeknight.  However, if you decide to set up Personal Folders and keep data in those, you will need to back up those folders on your own.

Synchronizing with Palm

Outlook can synchronize its calendar, tasks, contacts, and notes with your Palm handheld.  If you have a Palm and are using Outlook, contact tech support to have this set up.