Many Office users rely so much on Outlook, it’s their most-used application by far. Over the years, numerous other apps – such as Yammer, Slack or Teams – have presented other ways to collaborate and communicate yet with billions of messages being sent every day, email just doesn’t seem to slow down.
The bones of the current Windows release of Outlook date back to Outlook 97, with some dialogs and settings having changed little since even if the main UI has been refreshed over the years. One recent change was the further evolution of Outlook 2003’s “Wunderbar”, the menu on the bottom left of the main Outlook window that switched views between mail, calendar, tasks etc (yes, it really was called that internally – look in the Registry).
By Outlook 2016, the navigation bar had collapsed into a series of icons along the bottom, which did the same thing but took up less screen real estate. It’s long been possible to use keyboard shortcuts to jump between the options on the navigation bar – CTRL+1 will go to the 1st one (usually Mail), CTRL+2 to the second and so on. You can reorder the options on the bar if you like, so CTRL+1 could be Calendar if that’s what’s most important to you.
Outlook 2021 changes things again – the navigation bar has moved to the side, in a UI design shared with both Outlook.com and the Microsoft 365 Outlook Web App.
Other apps can be pinned to the new bar, too – including things like the Org Explorer, which presents a much more graphical way of looking at the org chart than the old Address Book in Outlook.
Moving these icons to the side of the screen might help organize screen real estate; another option would be to collapse the Ribbon, so you only see the many icons and options along the top of Outlook, when you need to use them.
You could try Simplified Ribbon to reduce the size and hide some of the more esoteric functions.
Show tabs only reverts to a simple menu bar, and when you click on one of the options, the ribbon for that tab is displayed. You can toggle easily between Tabs Only and the full ribbon by pressing CTRL+F1. There are loads of other shortcuts for Outlook though some are a little obscure.
To truly maximize your screen area, try going into Full-screen mode; that removes the menu and ribbon at the top of the screen entirely, including the search box.
If you need to search your mailbox while in full-screen, press ALT to temporarily display the ribbon, and look for the highlighted keys that can jump to specific tab or function.
Press Q, then type your search, hit enter and you’ll return to your results in full screen again.
Tip o’ the Week 317 – The Wunder Years
As regular readers know, ToW is often peppered with funny/stupid/obscure links to web content (videos especially). As it happens, one of the most commented (and most obscure) was a link to a Tenpole Tudor video called Wunderbar, back in ToW #227, referring to a feature in Outlook of the same name.
Which serves nothing more than a neat segue to this week’s topic – the wonderful Wunderlist. After being acquired by Microsoft in mid-2015, the Wunderlist product is still looking refreshingly independent and has a engendered a particular love from its avid users. And it’s available on lots of platforms too. And it’s basically free.
Wunderlist Pro costs $5 a month and includes a bunch of extra features, like micro-manager subdivision and infinite assignment of tasks, custom background creation, etc, and your profile pic will have this fetching head ornament as a memento.
Now, most of what you can do with Wunderlist could also be done with Outlook (either natively or through addins from other providers) but aficionados will wax on about how much slicker or easier Wunderlist is. As usual with these things, it’s all about putting the theories you already know into practice, and seeing how the tools suit your own way of working.
Things Wunderlist is great at:
And now, there’s even an Outlook addin for Wunderlist, most commonly available through Office365 or Outlook.com. The addin can be used either in Outlook online in a browser, or in the desktop client, and adds a Wunderlist menu to the home tab, so you can very quickly create list items from within email.
It’s really easy to set reminders too – possibly even quicker than flagging an item in Outlook and setting a time to remind you by; with the added benefit that Wunderlist reminders show up in Action Center and you’ll also get an email when the action is due, so if you’re a habitual inbox junkie who finds it hard to use a separate task list, then somewhat perversely, Wunderlist might actually help you take your eyes out of the in-tray and remember to look at other things along the way.
Check out the Office Store for your Wunderlist addin or see more detail on here.