Join David Rivers for an in-depth discussion in this video Organizing Outlook email, part of Weekly Office Workshop.
In this week's Office Workshop, we're going to focus on getting and keeping your email organized in Outlook. I'm using Outlook 2013, but these techniques can be applied to previous versions of Outlook as well. And they're designed to help you work more efficiently, save you time, and maybe even preserve your sanity when dealing with all those email messages we get on a daily basis. The first technique is to organize your inbox with folders and subfolders. Just as you would organize files in a physical filing cabinet.
Think about creating folders for specific projects, events, clients and anything else you can think of. Well, one way to create new folders under our inbox is to click Inbox, then go to the Folder tab on the ribbon, then click New Folder. That opens up this dialogue box, where we can type in the name of the new folder. Let's call this Storage. When you press Enter or click OK, notice a new subfolder appears under Inbox, and we can now collapse Inbox, or expand it to see the subfolders.
My favorite way to create new folders or subfolders is to right-click. In this case, Inbox, and choose New Folder from the pop-up menu. It's a little bit faster, and we can do the editing right here under Inbox. So let's type in Microsoft for example. Maybe you get a lot of emails from Microsoft, and you want them all stored in the same place. Press Return, it's locked in. We now have two subfolders. Maybe though, Microsoft belongs under Storage. When we right-click Storage and choose New Folder. We can create new subfolders under our subfolder called child folders.
So let's say, under Storage, we also stored our Evernote, messages. Can type Evernote there. And realize Microsoft belongs in the Storage subfolder, as well. Well, all we have to do is click and drag it there to rearrange. Notice the black bar, which is simply going to move it, but when we get on top of Storage and release. It becomes a subfolder or child folder of Storage. Now we have a couple in there, beautiful. Let's create one more, we'll right-click Storage, create a new one by clicking New Folder, and type in News.
All right, so we have few subfolders under our Storage folder now that we can work with. Let's say there are certain folders that we work with more often than others. You'll notice a little area up here at the top of our navigation pane where we can drag our favorite folders here. So definitely the Inbox is probably one, you can click and drag Inbox right up there and release. But maybe Evernote is something you use on a daily basis and you like getting those messages, drag it up underneath Inbox and it's another favorite. So you can go to them directly from the Favorite's section, even though they're still available to us down here in the navigation pane.
All right, now that we have a folder system created, let's talk about using it with the email messages we receive on a daily basis. Your inbox should really be considered the location where emails are received, not a place to keep them. Like your postal mailbox at home, for example, you take the mail out and disperse the envelopes where they need to go. For example, junk mail might go directly into the recycle bin, bills might go to a holding location like a desk drawer or a to do folder until they're paid and then they're stored somewhere else.
Messages arriving in your inbox should not stay there forever, but you might keep them there if they're unread, require response or follow-up, or need to be acted upon, that's the only reason to keep them there. So let's look at some actions now you should take with incoming email. One thing is to read, then keep it. By moving or dragging the email into a folder. So I read the family safety message here. I don't need to keep it in my inbox now. Let's move it to one of the subfolders we created under Storage. So in this case, I might move it to Microsoft.
Now then I realize, maybe under Microsoft, I should keep different types of messages separate from one another. Well, when you click Microsoft, you're going to see that one message you just moved there. But right-click, choose New Folder, and maybe we want to keep family safety separate from the others. So Family Safety Report, press Return. And now I'm going to move that message into that folder. When it's highlighted I release, now all my reports will go there. So I can go back to Inbox now, and find any others that belong in there and just simply drag them to that folder.
All right, there's an Evernote one, it should probably go into the Evernote folder. Click and drag it. Another thing you might do is simply read and delete messages, so you read something, you don't need to keep it, you can delete it. Here in Outlook 2013 there's a delete button. You can also right-click and find Delete on the pop-up menu. Selecting it is going to move it to your Deleted Items folder. Keeping in mind that things that go there are stored there until you remove them permanently or set up rules.
So clicking Deleted Items, you'll be able to to find things and get them back if you wanted to. But that's where they sit til we empty this Deleted Items folder. Think of it, a trash bin. All right, let's go back to the Inbox. I'm going to keep moving things around. There's something from MSN, that should probably go to News. Now I'm down to one single message, and this one goes to News as well. There I have a nice clean empty inbox. Now, if you're like me and many other people out there who let their inboxes grow to an unmanageable size.
It's time to look at some clean up options. So this goes for messages stored in other folders, not just your inbox. When you go to the File tab, you'll see Clean Up Tools here next to Mailbox Cleanup. Give that a click. And here's where we can go to empty the Deleted Items folder. After a while starts to pile up and if we don't need them any more. We can simply empty everything permanently, keeping in mind we won't be able to get them back. So another option is to use Mailbox Cleanup. When you go there, you'll see some other options, like finding items that are older than a certain number of days or larger items for example.
And by doing that, you could choose which ones need to be deleted, like older files for example. Also, here under emptying the deleted items folder permanently. We can delete those items, and you can see the item sizes for example. So we have a few rules we can set when it comes to deleting. Let's go up here to Finding Items. Let's find items that are older than, let's say 14 days, two weeks, and click Find. Now typically what's going to happen is you're going to see them listed down here, but by default if we go to the Advanced tab, you can see it's using this criteria, Modified on or Before that two week period.
So if we don't see anything down below, we might want to change this up. Instead of just messages, how about any type of Outlook item? That's going to clear your current search and simply going to list all of the items when you click Find Now. So let's go to Advanced and add that criteria back, but change it up a little bit. You can click the Field drop down. Go to All Mail Fields. And instead of the Modified Field, how about the Created Field. So, when it was created. How about on or before.
We'll scroll down. And that two week period, for me, takes me back to 7th of April, 2014. When I add that to the list, I can now click Find Now. And what I'll see is a list of things created way before that date, up to that date, and at this point now, if I wanted to, I could select the ones I want to remove. Use the Shift and click to select a group of them, right-click, and from here, I can delete them. Anything that's in the Deleted Items folder will be permanently deleted.
Do I want to continue? Clicking Yes is going to remove them. I'm going to click No just to keep them for our own purposes here and close this up. We click the back button to go back, and that's how we keep things cleaned up. Quite often, you'll be using up space you don't need to use with older messages that are no longer relevant. All right, now let's discuss the dreaded spam or junk email messages we all receive, probably on a daily basis as well. These are the messages we'd rather not have to deal with. And the good news is, we don't have to.
We can let Outlook deal with it. So let's say we go to a message. I'm going to go to, my Junk Email, and I can see there's one in there that maybe isn't junk. So with it selected, I can go now to the Home tab on the ribbon in the Delete section, click the Junk drop down, and choose Not Junk. Notice that it's going to always trust email from this person now by clicking OK. That's if we keep this check box selected.
So by clicking OK, I'll no longer receive junk mail from that person. It'll all be considered legitimate mail and notice my inbox now has an unread message. So I can go to the Inbox. And see it there. Now if it is junk, with it selected we can go to the Junk drop down, and we can block the sender. By clicking Block Sender, that person will be added to the Block Senders List. And, any messages from that person going forward will go to directly to your Junk Email folder.
So if you click OK. You can see it's gone from the Inbox. I definitely want that one back, so I'm going to go back to it. This time, right-click, and from here, you can see we have some options, like Junk, Not Junk, and give it a click. Now when we go to the Junk drop down. And go to Junk Email Options. Here's where we can setup the filtering system. Notice that I have it setup, so there's no automatic filtering. So, mail isn't blocked unless they're on the sender's list.
But there are some other options, some presets if you will, like Low. The most obvious junk e, email is going to go to the Junk Email folder. So, Outlook's going to take care of analyzing the email to decide whether or not it belongs in the Junk Email folder. So down below, it's going to disable links and other functionality and phishing messages. That's nice, and warn you about suspicious domain names in email addresses. These are checked off by default. In fact, you can permanently delete suspected junk email instead of moving it to the Junk Email folder. But sometimes, legitimate mail will get through to your junk email, and that's why you want to go to it.
On a regular basis, look over the messages in the junk email and decide whether or not they really are junk or not. Just as we did the original message we saw there. So if you do make changes, notice there are High and Safe Lists Only options here. If you do make a change, make sure to click Apply to apply that change and then click OK. And that's a great way to control the junk email or spam that's coming. Directly to your email inbox. So keep these techniques in mind when working with your emails in Outlook, and you'll always feel organized and on top of things.
Keep in mind, however, you might never be able to use the excuse of losing someone's email in the pile when you forget to respond to them. Enjoy.