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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.
You've returned to your office from a week or two-week vacation, or even from an afternoon off, and you have a lot of messages that you need to go through relatively quickly. If you need to double-click and open each message, read it, and then close it, this takes a fair amount of time. It's quicker and easier to review mail using the Reading Pane. To turn on the Reading Pane, click the View tab, and then in the Layout group, choose to display the Reading Pane either at the right or the bottom of the Information viewer. At the bottom, it looks like this, so you an Information viewer you can scroll and you have a Reading Pane that you can also scroll.
I prefer my Reading Pane on the right side of the Information viewer. I can adjust the width by simply pointing to either edge of the Information pane and creating more or less space. This means I am not going to have to scroll quite as much here in the Information viewer. When I move to the next message, or to any message, it's displayed in the Information pane. Now, I can quickly move through messages in the Information pane using the spacebar. So, if I hit the spacebar once, you'll notice that it scrolls to the bottom of the first message. Then it goes to the next message.
I am scrolling within a message using the spacebar, then moving to the next message using the spacebar. That behavior is controlled by the Reading Pane Options. So, you'll notice that as I move from one message to the next with the spacebar that the message is marked as having been read. If I have a message open in the Reading Pane for some period of time, it will also be marked as read, and that's also an option. Let's go to Reading Pane > Options and set these two options here in the dialog box. The first says, if I am in the Reading Pane and I view an item for a particular number of seconds, you should go ahead and mark it as read.
The assumption being, if I've selected it here and I have the Reading Pane, I am actually reading it here. 5 seconds is a pretty short length of time. I typically like to set this to 10 because by the time I actually scroll and read a message, it's usually 10 seconds, and 5 seconds might simply be - I am pointing to something and if selected it, but I am not really paying attention. Next is I can say simply mark the item as read when the selection changes. With this behavior, once something has appeared in the Reading Pane, when I move to another item, the item that was previously displayed is marked as read.
So, let's see how that works. I am looking at this pizza. As soon as I change to something else, the pizza is read. In other words, if it ever appeared here it's marked as read. Let's return to Reading Pane Options, on the View tab of the Ribbon. I prefer to have it wait a period of time, and then finally this single key reading using the spacebar is the technique that I showed you a moment ago. That's a default technique. With the Reading Pane open, I can use the spacebar to scroll through the selected item, then move to the next item. If I turn this off, then if I am pointed at this message and hit the spacebar, nothing happens.
In other words, not only does it not mark it as read, it simply ignores that I am hitting the spacebar. So it's treating it as a somewhat nervous behavior on my part. If you like using the spacebar to move your way through your Inbox, then you'll want to make sure that that's turned on. So, with the options that I want in place and the Reading Pane where I'd like to see it, I can review my messages very, very quickly, marking them as read at the same time, here in Microsoft Outlook 2010.
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