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In Outlook 2010: Effective Email Management, author Gini Courter demonstrates techniques to streamline the Outlook mailbox workflow. The course covers strategies for customizing views, adding filters, utilizing flags, and creating and organizing folders. The course also shows how to automate tasks as well as make effective use of QuickSteps to process email, and more.
One of the ways to affectively manage your e-mail is to decide when you've been included in a conversation that you really don't need to know anything about. With Outlook 2010, you can ignore a conversation. Sometimes, for example, you might be copied on a conversation that is going just fine without your input. You've asked folks, go ahead and drop me off the list; I don't need to be cced on this anymore. And yet they persist, wanting to make sure that they've copied everybody so that no one is left out of the conversation. For example, here is a conversation with a request for help.
It has nothing to do with us. And this conversation then proceeds to go back and forth. We don't really want to know anything about this conversation. So what we are going to do is we are simply going to on the Home tab in the Delete group choose Ignore. When we ignore a conversation, this conversation, and all future messages about this conversation, are moved directly to the Deleted Items folder. We'll never see this conversation. Now it might be that we'd rather put this somewhere else, that we'd rather have a folder that's called Ignored Conversations, and we can see how to do that later when we learn how to create folders in our Inbox, in the future.
But right now the Deleted Items folder is just fine for this conversation, and I am simply going to say let's ignore it. Notice that the message that was selected is gone. It's been placed in the Deleted Items folder. And better yet, we've marked this conversation so that when the replies fly back and forth to this message, they'll go to Deleted Items without ever bothering us on the way there. There's a feature that's related, another feature that actually uses the tracking that's built into Microsoft Outlook e-mail messages to decide whether you have messages that you really don't need to see.
For example, we've had this conversation going back and forth about, are the designs complete, and some back and forth conversations about the catering party. We can clean up these conversations. What Outlook will do is it will go through, and it will see if there are parallel messages that essentially have the same content. Now it would be great if I could say, when I clean up, if the message comes from this particular person, go ahead and delete it because they don't often provide value to the conversation. But that's not how it works. What Outlook does is it actually goes into a particular conversation, or a folder, or a folder and its subfolders, and tries to find messages that are redundant.
So let's go ahead and select a set of messages, for example here, this conversation, and let's tell Outlook, clean up this conversation. It says, "All redundant messages will be moved to the Deleted Items folder." We'll say clean up. It warns us twice because we are deleting things, and we'll say OK. This says, actually, every message here has value. Well let's see if we can find some conversations in this folder that don't have all messages that are non-redundant. Let's select the whole folder and say clean up the folder. Click again, and items were removed here and taken to the Deleted Items folder.
You'll notice that we had some conversations that had two messages in them. If we go to the folder, what we'll find is that this second message, or the redundant message, was placed here in the Deleted Items folder. Now once again, we might want to create a folder that's called Ignored and Cleaned up Messages. But right now, we have the ability to trim down the number of messages that we are going to see. We've already removed four messages that we don't need to look at. As with the Reading Pane, we have options that we can set for how cleanup actually works.
If we choose Clean Up Conversation, or if we choose Clean Up Folder or Clean Up Folders & Subfolders, the settings are right here. In other words, there's not an option listed on the Clean Up dropdown list. We actually have to get into the process, because it's going to open the Outlook options, and we'll need to scroll down halfway down in the Mail Settings, to Conversation Clean Up. First, we are told where the cleaned up items will go, and we can browse and change this folder. If we wanted to create, for example, a new folder that was called Cleaned Up Items, we can do that.
Don't create it in the Deleted Items folder because if you do, when you empty Deleted Items, then you'll also delete the folder you create. But if we click here in the Inbox, or if we click in the mailbox and say New, we could say, create a folder called Cleaned Up, for example. Now items will be sent to this new Cleaned Up folder, rather than to the Deleted Items folder. Second, is it says that I can move unread messages because, the Don't move unread messages check box is turned off.
In other words, it was able to move to the Deleted Items folder messages that I'd never even looked at. If that makes you uncomfortable, then tell Outlook, you can't move them unless I've read them. If you've categorized a message, by default, it won't be moved, but if you are happy to have Outlook move messages even if you've done something with them, categorized or flagged them - features that you'll find out about later - then you can say go ahead and move them. Or digitally signed messages. If you want to be able to move digitally signed messages to the Cleaned Up folder, just say OK.
But here are the default settings: Unread messages will be moved. Messages, however, that you've touched or that are digitally signed will not be moved. When you are all set changing those options, go ahead and click OK. It says now all redundant messages in the current folder will be moved not to Deleted Items, but to the Cleaned Up folder. And I am going to clean up the folder and say OK. The Ignore feature let's us delete current and future messages that we actually don't want to see. The Clean Up feature allows us to get rid of current messages that are redundant.
By eliminating redundant messages and messages that we don't care about, we are left with messages in our Inbox that we do care about, that we can now focus on.
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