Microsoft Outlook logo on a blue background.

As an Outlook user, you’re likely aware of its robust feature set. But just because an application has tons of features, that doesn’t mean they’re all worth your effort. Here are several of the Microsoft Outlook features you should be using.

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Email Scheduling for Effective Time Management

If you’re someone who uses time blocking for managing tasks throughout the day, scheduling emails can be beneficial. You can create all the emails you need to during your time block and pick the dates and times to send them.

To schedule an email you’re composing, go to the Options tab and pick “Delay Delivery.”

Delay Delivery on the Options tab

In the bottom section of the Properties window, check the box for Do Not Deliver Before. Then, use the drop-down boxes to the right to pick the date and time.

Schedule when to send an email in Outlook

Optionally, you can use the additional features in the Properties box. You have Settings with Voting and Tracking Options at the top and additional Delivery Options at the bottom.

When you finish, click “Close” to apply the scheduling.

Contact Groups for Distribution Lists

When you email the same group of people regularly, there’s no easier way to add all those email addresses then by creating a distribution list. The Contact Group feature in Outlook helps you accomplish this.

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To quickly create a contact group, go to the Home tab, select the New Items drop-down menu, and choose More Items > Contact Group.

Contact Group in the New Items menu

Select “Add Members” and choose the location for your stored contacts.

Add Members in the Contact Group window

Pick a contact from the list and click “Members” to add them. Continue this process until you have everyone in the group and click “OK.”

Group member selection window

Give your contact group a Name at the top and select “Save & Close.”

Name and save a contact group in Outlook

When you want to email that new group, click the To button in the compose window and select the group. Or, start typing the name of the group in the To field and select it from the suggestions.

Contact group suggestion in Outlook

Inbox Rules for Automatic Organization

While email rules may seem intimidating to set up, they are worth the time to save you hassle later. You can automatically move emails to folders, mark messages with priority, play a sound for important emails, and more.

To set up a new rule from scratch, go to File > Manage Rules & Alerts and click “New Rule.”

Manage Rules and Alerts and New Rule window

Or, to create a new rule based on an email you received, open the message in its own window. Click the Rules drop-down menu in the Move section of the ribbon and pick “Create Rule.”

Create Rule in the Rules menu

Depending on the option you pick above, select the conditions and actions and then follow the subsequent prompts for your new rule.

When you finish, you can apply it to existing messages in your box or simply click “Finish” to save the rule for future messages that arrive.

Final step for setting up an Outlook rule

Multiple Email Signatures for Proper Closings

To make sure all of your messages have proper closings, you can create multiple email signatures in Outlook. This lets you use a specific signature for business emails versus personal messages.

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To create a signature, select Signature > Signatures on the Message tab of the compose window.

Signatures in the Signature menu for a new message

On the Email Signature tab, choose the email account at the top if you have more than one. Then, select “New” on the right. Give your signature a name and click “OK.”

New Signature setup windows

Set up the signature in the Edit Signature box and pick “Save” when you finish.

Optionally, you can make the signature the default for new messages, replies, and forwards using the drop-down boxes at the bottom.

Default settings for a new signature

Repeat the same process to create additional signatures and select “OK” when you’re done.

When you want to use a signature, head back to the Signature drop-down menu on the Message tab and pick the one you want to use. If you set up a signature as the default, it appears in your email automatically.

Signature options in the Signature menu for a new message

AutoArchive for Inbox and Folder Cleanup

Cleaning up your inbox and folders of outdated, unnecessary emails can take time. Using the AutoArchive feature in Outlook, you can automatically remove old messages you no longer need.

Go to File > Options and select “Advanced” on the left. Then, click “AutoArchive Settings” on the right.

AutoArchive Settings button in the Outlook Options

Complete each of the fields in the AutoArchive pop-up window for when and how to archive your emails. You can choose when to run the tool and receive a prompt before it runs.

You can also pick how to handle certain messages during the AutoArchive process such as the age of the items, which archive folder to use, and even to permanently delete old items.

AutoArchive Settings in Outlook

When you’re done, click “OK” to apply the settings.

Convert Messages to Meetings for Reference

How many times have you received an email that prompted a meeting? You can convert an email to a meeting in Outlook Calendar for a great time-saver. Plus, the message that inspired the meeting is automatically attached to the event for reference.

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To turn an email into a meeting, click the three dots on the top right of the message and select “Meeting.”

Meeting in an Outlook email menu

You’ll then see a new event request window open with the email as the description. You can then complete the request like any other; add attendees, set the date and time, and pick a location.

New Meeting window from an email

Send your meeting request when you finish, and your attendees will see the invitation with the email in the body.

Email Filters for Finding Messages Quickly

One more handy Outlook feature helps you find the emails you need in a hurry. You can certainly use Outlook’s basic and advanced search options, but to see unread, flagged, important, or categorized messages fast, use the Filter Email feature.

On the Home tab, select “Filter Email” and pick an option.

Filter Email choices in Outlook

Once you apply the filter, you can adjust it if necessary. In the Refine section of the ribbon, add another filter, or in the Scope section to the right, pick the mailbox or folder.

Additional filter options in Outlook

When you finish with the filter, click “Close Search” on the right side of the ribbon.

Close Search button for a filter

While all of the features Outlook provides are useful in some way, there are some that you need more than others. With this list, you have the basic features you need to save time, improve your productivity, and manage your inbox better.

RELATED: 7 Underused Microsoft Outlook Features

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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