by Tony Rushin
There are two “Quick” features in Outlook that can help you be more productive: Quick Parts and Quick Steps. My last tip focused on Quick Parts; this time we’ll explore Quick Steps.
As much as I like the AutoText feature of Quick Parts, I like the productivity gains from Quick Steps so much more. You don’t have to look hard for Quick Steps: it’s right in the middle of the Home Tab.
Note that the number of Quick Steps you can see on your computer screen is limited by the size of your monitor. I can see the six above on my 24-inch monitor in my office; when I use the monitor on my Surface Pro 3 I can only see four. Also be aware that depending on the version of Outlook you’re using, the screens you see may look a little different than those I’m showing you. Don’t worry if yours aren’t quite like these; it’s a rather intuitive and easy process to figure out the steps no matter which version you use.
When Quick Steps was introduced with Outlook 2010, Microsoft created a lot of fanfare. However, it hasn’t caught on like Microsoft had hoped and I think that’s because some of the pre-canned Quick Steps – such as ‘New E-mail To’ and ‘Forward To’ – are too simple and don’t offer any value over existing Outlook features. However, you can easily set up customized Quick Steps – each with multiple Actions – and that’s where the productivity boost comes in.
I have six Quick Steps set up (see above). They save me one or two steps when I need to take action on an email, which can add up to a nice time savings if you consider how many emails we process each day. My Quick Steps are all custom but don’t let that scare you – they are simple to set up. Let’s do it!
Click on the arrow to the right of “Quick Steps” in the tool bar to open a window that looks similar to this:
I say similar because yours will have the default Quick Steps listed instead of my customized ones. Highlight each of the Quick Steps and read the description to the right to learn what it does. Note that if you’re a keyboard shortcut person you can assign a shortcut to your Quick Step. I chose not to use the shortcuts since they are limited to CNTL+SHIFT+1 (thru 9) and I found it easier to select the Quick Step with my mouse.
The building block for designing a Quick Step is the Action; let’s take a look. Click New and select Custom from the drop down to build one from scratch (note: you can click Edit to change a Quick Step or Duplicate to copy/edit to create a new Quick Step):
Below is the edit window; it opens up ready for you to choose a specific action plus add more action steps. Remember to name your Quick Step.
There are several actions you can choose, as you can see below:
Choose the action for your first action step and then click on the Add Action button to choose an action for your second action step and so forth. When you’re done choosing all of the actions you want, click Finish. Now, when you’re in an email and you click on the Quick Step, all of the actions you have selected will be executed in order.
Hint: limit the number of Quick Steps you have to the number that show up on your monitor so you can easily click on them; that’s why I limited mine to six Quick Steps.
Now there’s only one step left: figure out what you’ll do with all of the time you’ll save using Quick Steps.