14 February 2017

Tips for Exchange users

If you work in a Microsoft Exchange environment, the following tips will hopefully make life a little easier for you and your co-workers. The features I will mention are not exactly new, but my experience tells me most Exchange and Outlook users just have not found them yet.

When you request someone to perform a task, send a task request instead of a generic email message

The message will be immediately discernible as a task request, and the recipient will not need to create a task separately. For your slight effort, you will receive the option of receiving automatic updates.

When you request an appointment, send a meeting request

You can easily pick a time through using free/busy information and the AutoPick Next feature. The meeting will show up directly on the calendars of the attendees. Remember to book any other necessary resources, such as conference rooms and equipment, at the same time.

Recipients may easily inform third parties, such as assistants, of the meeting by using the Cc line when responding to the invitation.

If your message is not eternally valid, set its expiry date and time

When you write a message knowing that it will be meaningful only for a limited period, set it to expire at a suitable time. This is especially useful when using mailing lists where a proportion of recipients are likely to be on vacation.

A time machine (sort of) – how to edit or remove messages after sending them

Have you sometimes wished you still could edit a message you had already sent, or even delete it altogether? Well, Exchange and Outlook allow you to try. First recall the original message and then, optionally, replace it with an edited version.

Of course, this will not work all the time. Think of this method as a friendly way of keeping your messages up to date rather than as a possibility to pilfer mail from recipients’ inboxes.

Mark your private contacts as private and share your non-private contacts

This is much more elegant than manually responding to requests for contact information.

Automatically request delivery and read receipts for every message you send

Also automatically filter those receipts to a subfolder. – The point has been made that requesting read receipts might be considered antisocial. Still, a situation may arise in which when you will want to confirm that a recipient has read your message. Better safe than sorry!

Create short messages as signatures

If you often need to reply e.g. ‘Hello, and thank you for your message. I no longer do foo, but please call bar instead; here is the number’, save this message as a signature (and give it a descriptive name). Inserting the text into a message will then be extremely easy.

Use rules to filter incoming email

Your inbox should only contain mail you really need to read. Messages you would only archive anyway, such as automatic notifications you might need only at some point in the future, should be automatically filtered to a suitable folder.

Likely junk mail should go to the Junk E-mail folder, which you should look over once a day or so. Use the junk mail filter in Outlook, but also create your own filters to catch what the built-in filtering misses.

Automatically filter away messages written using unfamiliar character sets. As an example, most Western users will only need to accept Baltic, Central European, Latin 3, Latin 9, US ASCII and Western European. Anything in Arabic, Chinese Simplified and so on all the way to Vietnamese can be automatically filtered to the junk folder.

Archive instead of discarding

Never throw away anything but junk mail. You do not know which messages you will need to come back to a year or five years from now. Have AutoArchive move messages to a .pst file after e.g. two months.