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Beginner’s Guide to Using the Notes Feature in Outlook

With the amount of email you receive in a given day, it’s hard to keep them all straight, no matter how you organize your inbox. Today we show you how to use the Notes feature to help get better organized.

One of the features in Outlook which isn’t talked about much and perhaps underutilized is Notes. Using notes while in Outlook can help you remember important ideas and organize your work. Here we look at using Notes in Outlook 2010 but the feature is available in Office 2002 and up.

Using Notes in Outlook 2010

To access the Notes feature in Outlook 2010 click on the Notes button in the Navigation Pane.

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You can also click the arrow button to show more or fewer items. This way you can have Notes appear as a larger button for easier access if you use it a lot.

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The Notes feature opens up and to create a new note click New Note from the Ribbon.

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After you’ve created your note just close out of it and it will automatically save to your list.

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Under the Home Tab in Current View, you’re able to change the view options of your notes. Here we have it set to Notes List so we can easily see the contents of the note and other detailed info.

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If you have them displaying as icons you can hover the mouse over the note and see a preview of its contents.

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You can also sort your notes alphabetically in Icon View. Right click an empty area in the window and select Sort from the Context Menu.

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In the Sort screen select Sort items by Subject and if you want it to be Ascending or Descending and click OK.

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There you go! Your notes are then sorted alphabetically. You can also sort them by Color, Contact, Icon…etc.

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If you have a few notes open in Windows 7, you can easily access them from the Taskbar along with everything else you might have open in Outlook.

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Add New Note Button to Quick Access Toolbar

If you find you’re using the Notes feature a lot, you might want to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar. To add it, click the the dropdown menu and select More Commands.

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Outlook Options will open up…dropdown the commands menu and select All Commands.

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Then scroll down and highlight New Note and click the Add button.

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You should see it under the Customize Quick Access Toolbar section, click OK to close out of Outlook Options.

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Now you’ll see the New Note icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.

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Click it and you’ll be able to create a new note while looking through your Inbox without going into the Notes section.

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Email Notes

Another neat feature with Notes in Outlook is you can email them too. Right-click on the Note you want to send and select Forward.

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Now send it off as you would any other email.

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You can also link Notes to your contacts. Open a note and click the icon in the upper left corner and select Contacts.

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Now type in the name of the contact who you want to link the note to or click the Contacts button to browse through your contacts list.

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Move or Copy Notes to the Calendar or Other Folders

Sometimes you might want to move or copy your notes to another location in Outlook. Here we’ll look at copying a note to the Calendar. Select the Move dropdown menu from the Ribbon then select to move or copy it to another location.

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Choose where you want to move or copy it to…in this case the Calendar, then click OK.

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The Calendar will open and you can then go through and schedule it how you want.Notes

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Customize Your Notes

If you’re not happy with the appearance of the typical yellow look of your notes, they can be customized. Click on the File tab to access Backstage View and click on Options.

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Click on Notes and Journal and under Notes options you can customize the color, font, and Size.

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Here is an example of a Note after we customized the color, size, and font.

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Conclusion

If you live in Outlook during the business day, and want a quick and easy way to jot down you thoughts, using the Notes feature can come in handy. This guide should definitely get you started understanding and using Notes in Outlook. What about you? Do you use the Notes feature? Do you find them to to be a helpful tool to better organize your work? Leave a comment and let us know.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/26/10

Comments (6)

  1. Bob

    I have three problems with Outlook Notes:

    The absence of any sort of scrolling in long notes -no drag bars, no mouse wheel, they only way to navigate is with the arrow keys are page up/down keys

    The absence of a save function – on many times I have used Notes to store bank details or passwords and then copied and pasted as I needed them, only to return from time to time to discover that I had accidentally deleted the content I needed the last time I had used it

    The absence of an undo function. You are typing a note, you delete something (usually by accident) and its gone for good! Useless and very annoying

  2. Lady Fitzgerald

    I find the free aplication, FreeNote, to be far more useful and easier to use. A simple click on a icon on the taskbar puts a virtual post it note on the desktop. The note can be dragged to size, dragged anywhere I want on the desktop, notes can be typed on it (duh!), font and font size can be changed, and it is visible whenever the desktop is. If in an aplication, such as Word for example, clicking on the FreeNote icon will put a post it note on top of the application which allows one to add the text, etc. Then clicking on a blank area of the application will cause the note to slip back under the application onto the desktop in the same position it was in. For something I don’t want visible on the desktop or more permanent, I use a Word doc. or .txt file in Notepad.

  3. SteveVA

    The one thing that’s missing in Notes is an option to pin a note to the desktop. Once there, I’d like to be able to make it stay to the front. In other words, I want Notes to be able to act like sticky notes if I want it to.

    So on one hand we have cool sticky note apps (and yes, there are much better ones than the Win7 sticky notes app) and on the other hand we have Notes which integrate with Office but which lack sticky note functionality. I want all those features in one!

  4. Ravindra

    You missed one thing…notes are saved on the server…so they automatically get synced with any other device that has been set up. It works like a charm on my BB.

  5. Notes are not my friend

    i want notes on my calendar. where i can see them and not make an appointment or task. just a freakin’ note….nothing else. why in the world microsoft doesn’t let us do that is beyond me. i like to jot down things on my calendar…so i find myself using a desk calendar AND my outlook calendar. it would be nice to add a note that doesn’t show up for my everyone i’ve shared my calendar with….or just to have them at all would be a start. i had hoped that 2010 would have the option…but again, it doesn’t

  6. samuel

    thank u

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