After Hours

10 things that are missing from Outlook 2013

Microsoft removed quite a few tools and features from the latest version of Outlook. Do you miss them?

Outlook 2013 has many new useful features, but they come at a cost. In fact, Outlook 2013 seems to have lost more features and options than any other Office application. Microsoft believes most users won't miss these features.

1: Right-click Lookup

When reading email in earlier versions, you have right-click access to dictionary and thesaurus entries. Simply right-click the word, choose Lookup, and Outlook shows a list of definitions in the Research pane. Definitions are still available, but it'll take a bit more work:

  1. Click inside the message body.
  2. Click the Review tab.
  3. In the Proofing group, click Research.
  4. Press [Alt] and then click the word you want to look up. To look up a phrase, select the words and then press [Alt] and click the selected phrase. Or just type a word or phrase in the Search For control and then click Start Searching.

2: Right-click AutoCorrect

Removing right-click access to definitions doesn't seem to have upset users too much, but removing right-click access to AutoCorrect has. With a simple right-click, you can add a misspelled word and its correct version to the AutoCorrect list. You can't do this in Outlook 2013 — and users are upset about it. AutoCorrect is still available, but you'll have to enter items manually. You can still use the right-click access to add unrecognized words to the Dictionary.

3: Import/Export formats reduced

Older versions let you import and export many file formats. Outlook 2013 limits you to comma-delimited data and .pst (Outlook's data file format). Exporting probably isn't a huge issue, as almost all applications import comma-delimited data. The problem will be importing, because you can't always control the format. I suspect a number of third-party products will quickly hit the market.

4: Meeting workspace

The Meeting workspace feature isn't available in Outlook 2013. This workspace (a web site) stores information, such as attendees, date, time, and location, that you might need for meetings. You can't add it to the Quick Access Toolbar either. I don't think it will be missed much.

5: Outlook Mobile Service (OMS)

Using Outlook 2010's OMS, you can communicate with mobile devices. Outlook 2013 doesn't support this feature, which hurts me a bit. Using Outlook this way has been a convenience for me. It's another opportunity for a third-party product.

6: Windows Search

Using Windows Search, you can search email without opening Outlook. Windows 8 no longer supports it. You can't search Outlook email using Windows 8 search options. This loss has users fussing.

7: Calendar publishing

Outlook 2013 doesn't support publishing calendars to Office.com. Microsoft plans to shut down this service for older versions as well (April 5, 2014). Microsoft suggests that you move to Outlook.com.

8: Drag-and-drop omission

Dragging an email to the calendar in the To-Do bar opens a new appointment window in older versions. You can't do that anymore. You can still get the same results by dragging a message to the Calendar shortcut. It's a small inconvenience and users should adjust quickly.

9: Journal and Notes

The Journal window is gone. Notes are still around, but you can't customize them any longer. Options for both features are gone.

10: Suggested contacts

Not everything that's gone will be missed. Outlook 2013 has discontinued Suggested Contacts, a feature that corrals contacts that aren't in your Contacts list. The option is gone. Users don't like this feature, so it's doubtful that many will complain.

What else is gone?

Have you come across any other missing features in Outlook 2013? Do you think the new version is an improvement or are you sticking with an older version?

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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