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.

59 comments
lind777
lind777

I just upgraded and am frustrated that I can no longer shrink the to-do pane to only show the partial month.    I only need it for appts and it takes up way too much space how often I view it.

Wry Bradford
Wry Bradford

"Microsoft believes most users won't miss these features." -- They would be WRONG.

Jelgab
Jelgab

I don't see a way to do a search within the notes section of a contact like I do on 2010

scottmc101
scottmc101

I don't like the fact that you can't "hide" the calendar and upcoming appointments tab.  Sure you can close it, but to get it back you have to go through several menus.  I liked the way it just 'minimized' off to the side. 

Another feature I HATE is the fact that when I search my emails it only looks for a few of them, then tells me the rest of them are on the server and I have to click another button to get them.  Too bad Microsoft doesn't read these forums BEFORE they create the next version ... might result in happier customers :)

jr.carswell
jr.carswell

My biggest erk is number 10, I personally use Suggested contacts all the time, and drag and drop for tasks/calendar item. As for the rest I've never had an issue especially with the search, in fact mine is better that any other version that I've used.

shirannlaw
shirannlaw

The part of Outlook that I have loved is the Journal and I've been using it extensively.  If I had know that it was not included in 2013, I would NEVER have installed it.  Plus, I'm going blind trying to read anything.  Light gray/dark gray?  What planet do these developers come from?  I've gone back to using 2010.

CIOandManager
CIOandManager

Has anyone else noticed that search in Outlook 2013 is worse than appalling?

All of our clients use their email as an archive and lookup items frequently so search is a PRIMARY requirement...  If I were to think of moving them to 2013 we would be fired as consultants...

Search finds the "Most recent" items immediately and then if you are looking for further back than a week or two, it sits and grinds forever!

This is with cached exchange mode on - against a local Exchange server! 

Back in the Office 2003 days, there was this great product called Lookout. It would index all your emails and files and search at lightning speeds. Apparently MS bought them out and implemented some of that in Windows 7.

Appear to have thrown it out in Windows 8!

paul
paul

I simply do not like the new flat style of Office 2013 and Windows 8 - they can call it "Modern" if they like, but it looks like Windows 2 to me and has an unfinished feel to it; it's almost as if they fired the user interface team and got in a load of people who don't know what they are doing and are making it up as they go along. It seems that Microsoft are removing features which they don't think are applicable to mobile phones and tablets. But me, I'll stick with Office 2010 until I am forced to move.

pprarrow1
pprarrow1

I have both Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013. I went back to the 2010 version, mainly because I like the appearance and the functionality of the ToDo pane for that version.

aggieoo7
aggieoo7

The first time I noticed all my contacts disappeared in the iCloud contacts. After copying from Icloud back to OUTLOOK contacts, that seem to make Outlook pickup them correctly. I see a little polishing needed in the contact area in the near future by 2013.

crystal.kolosick
crystal.kolosick

I agree with lars@... The colors are missing and there are very little customization options. The default colors are very hard on the eyes. I hope they fix that soon.

bfkoker
bfkoker

I posted this complaint when I first began using 2013 a few months ago and subsequently reverted back to 2010 because of it, but I am primarily a keyboard user, rather than moving back and forth from the keyboard to the mouse. So tab orders, keyboard shortcuts and context menus are all really practical and useful for me. I was pretty upset to find out Microsoft was "cleaning up" their context menus and therefore stripped out Bullets/Numbers—among other things—from the right-click. Apparently you can write your own VB code to replace/modify it, but that seems unnecessary and is beyond my technical know-how anyway.

Tromman
Tromman

There is little more annoying than having some moron decide how you use your computer. Given the market share that M$ has it is pure arrogance when a reliable product has useful features removed, obviously with no consultation, in the name of progress. Outlook 2013 is a giant step backwards. Why are they trying to resurrect the neanderthals?

Pak3141
Pak3141

In my version I was able to enable it.

carlsf
carlsf

It would seem that Microsoft is hell bent on driving their clients ? users away. We will be staying on WIN7 and Office 2010, and when that goes away we will move to Google and Zorin (Linux) It would seem that MS is so obsessed with Phones that they have forgotten the existing client base that already have. (us 115). I guess Microsoft like IBM will wake up too late their client base has gone gone gone., and we have already started to move to other products/O/S's.

remanuel
remanuel

When desired in 2010 you could place a small colored icon aside each email. I got very used to using this feature to breeze thru my email and categorize emails by color for later reading when I had time.... Green for low priority, Red for highest, and none for the lowest. Now the colored icons are gone and a text word for the color is placed instead. (1) the word takes up much more very precious real estate than the tiny icon and (1) the word just lacks the ability to do a quick scan. And - performance has very noticeably degraded.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I think I occasionally used # 8 but none of the others. So I guess I won't miss them.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Microsoft lost me when they introduced that hideous and wasteful Ribbon interface. it was a big step backwards in usability as far as I (and many,many others) am concerned. I am still using Office 2003 and it serves me very well. The newer Office versions do not contain any new, compelling features that would entice me to switch. Of course, there's also OpenOffice and LibreOffice if all else fails.

tadams
tadams

I'm very disappointed that they removed the upcoming Meetings list under the to-do pane. It only shows the meetings for the current day, makes it frustrating to not automagically see the next days meetings as you get closer to the end of the day.

LarsDennert
LarsDennert

Ms just keeps discontinuing things in all their services. not a good sign. interesting that office Mac has a great new feature to view all contacts but the PC version doesn't. I have multiple shared contact folders and have to search each to find the contact. On the Mac you can view/search them all together.

dwhite
dwhite

And I'm having issues changing the way I work thanks to Microsoft's insane decisions. I don't remember to journal every document I go into by hand; used the journal constantly until this version, along with customized NOTES and everything else. They really are steering people towards Google docs, aren't they?

LarryHazen
LarryHazen

Dark Gray, Light Gray and White... are you kidding me? I am a consultant and have a 92 year old that can't see very well anyway and he can see less than ever... I also have a colorblind insurance agent that can't see enough to even use it... What is the scoop with Office Background? Not that I like transparent windows but this is a bit crazy. Slow... I don't know if it's because I have Office 365 or what but my computer will just stop for 3 to 20 seconds RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of doing something!!! I HATE it and only got it because "the day" I went to purchase 2010 they stopped selling it and all the vendors raised their prices immediately... Oh did I say I am not happy... sorry I'm not happy Microsoft...

SethHTS
SethHTS

The setup process for 2013 is an absolute nightmare when you're an IT consultant working for small/medium size businesses. The unskippable video and need for an email address to activate adds too much time and hassle. We're having to put everyone on more expensive volume licenses (which cost more, naturally) just to avoid the hassle.

frwb
frwb

It was so simple to implement using a third party web provider (cheap). Now we have to implement a full gateway meaning full architecture (server...) as no one today is able to provide a full embedded app or addon (like previous version) Why removing that ????? :(

PeterM42
PeterM42

Microsoft seem intent on wrecking every product they have: - Windows 8.0 - disaster! - hence quick intro of 8.1 which is not much better - Work, Excel, etc ribbon interface - crap! - Hotmail change to "outlook.com" UI - Jeez!!! - how appalling is THAT? And so it goes on. Come back BillG - all is forgiven!

sullijwiii
sullijwiii

I understand why some changes are made because of feedback from users, but what basis do they justify other changes? Taking away features that many use is to me not a good business practice. You give what your customers want (since they pay your check), improve upon it (make it faster, easier) but don't take it away. It took me a bit to figure out 2010 and now I really like it over 2007, from what I see what has been done with 2013, looks like I will resist changing over hoping the next version brings back the things users like. In my imagination, I see the software writers having a bad day and deciding to drop things because they "feel" like it. More than likely that isn't true, just would like to know since human nature can sometimes be negative. When a company gets way too big, they lose that personal touch and make decisions not based on customer desires.

Cynyster
Cynyster

The only reason I bought a copy of windows 8 was the $40 price tag. I loaded it into a VM so I could at least become familiar with the product. I am still astounded by the people that think the mobile interface was a good idea for desktops and even more astounded at those that think people are more productive "On The Go" [b]They Are NOT more productive[/b]. Time management professionals will tell you "distracted tasking" is the bane of productivity. I also find it amusing that in response to the short-comings of the applications M$ released a list of keyboard shortcuts (ironic that they would choose keyboard shortcuts to increase productivityon a platform designed to work without a keyboard)

Whing
Whing

What it needs, above all else, is a working room finder. Like Lotus Notes has had forever. Yes, find a room came in 2010 but is rubbish compared to Notes. When I find the one slot in the next three weeks that my busy attendees can make I want one button I press that can find all rooms, of the right size in the four local buildings which have the right resources (phone, projector, vc, etc) and that I have rights to. Oh, and that works out of the box without the admin spending hours setting up distribution groups. Just now I see all rooms, even those too small and without the facilities I need. Oh, and most irritating of all, that I have no rights to. I press send to be told I have no rights. MS if you can work it out after I click send why not work it out in advance so I don't need to get irritated? And it doesn't work usually because the admin doesn't know how to set it up or hasn't bothered. Aaarrrgh! This causes more irritation in every organisation I have worked for than anything else.

newwales
newwales

The Number 1 thing REMOVED from outlook 2013 is on the To-Do right hand pane Calander, it ONLY shows todays events which is more than usless all previous versions had a few days or even a weeks work of events.

susan.mcdonald
susan.mcdonald

I just did a quick verification and I still have (most of) the features you report as missing...for info I use Outlook connected to an Exchange server.

Rickochet
Rickochet

I upgraded from Office 2010 to Office 2013 on my Dell XPS 15 laptop. The installation went smoothly. However, EVERY Office application I start up displays a window saying it is trying to find a solution and then it disappears, leaving me with a blank screen. I googled and didn't find others with the problem so I'm guessing it's some kind of software compatibility with something else I have installed on my laptop. Having my desktop with 2013 and my laptop with 2010 though is definitely not fun. Other than that, what's with their color selection? Are they trying to make us feel depressed. Some things are nearly overlooked because they are not "categorized" well with colors. Strange...

simonh
simonh

I'm certain you could copy/paste most of the above comments to any discussion following any MS Office (or indeed Windows) release since 1997. People always moan about the same inconsequential stuff yet the world keeps turning and things gradually progress...

amj2010
amj2010

Now for your information we still use good old windows live mail instead of W8mail or Outlook, cumbersome, we do not understand why you must have XXXXX numbers of the same mail program, Microsoft shape up

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

I miss the use of grammar in Outlook 2013. Every menu SHOUTS AT YOU IN CAPS LOCK. That alone is enough to stop me ever using it.

wsuffolk
wsuffolk

... photo of Paul Whitehouse at the top?

mlewis
mlewis

For those of us who are in organizations that use SharePoint, Meeting Workspaces is a big deal. I am shocked to hear it is missing from 2013. I think Microsoft no longer cares about their corporate customers.

RechTepublic
RechTepublic

Unlike previous versions of Outlook, when you create an appointment by double clicking on a day on the Calendar it sets the reminder to "None" instead of using the default you select in Options. The default only works if you click on New Appointment.

carminep
carminep

@CIOandManager

You summed up the issue perfectly. I need to roll out new PC's soon and I am in a quandary trying to get Outlook 2010 because there is no way, in good conscience,  that I could burden users with Office 2013. It's that bad.

pgit
pgit

Isn't there a place where you can set custom key bindings? I don't use outlook (I run Linux) but I can't imagine something as important as keyboard shortcuts isn't configurable. Tons of apps in Linux, and the desktop environments themselves, have such settings. If outlook doesn't allow setting key bindings there really is a problem with it...

scottmc101
scottmc101

@remanuel You can still do this - just right-click the email, then select "Categorize" and choose your "category".  This is one feature that is actually a little easier because you can now customize your category to things like "Accounts Payable" or "Prospect" or whatever works for your world.   (You can also get to the "Categorize" link on the ribbon bar at the top under HOME)

jred
jred

A LOT of small/med businesses are still happily running Exchange 2003. They stop being happy soon after their new Dell refuses to connect. Right now it's still relatively easy to find Office 2010, but it's a huge issue nonetheless.

pgit
pgit

The new version may be having a hard time importing your preferences. (or possibly the mail, if you have a ton of it) A test would be to make a new user, install 2013 and see if it runs there. If it does, I'd export everything using the older version, wipe the mail and configs, install 2013 and import the old settings, mail etc. PITA but I've had to do this quite a few times. As a heads up, I've had a bear of a time upgrading outlook a few times, which turned out to be due to the 'check mail on startup' option being enabled. We had to use another client to grab all the new mail before the new outlook would start. Just something to keep in the back of your mind if you run into troubles...

jasont
jasont

Meeting workspaces are a big deal for us and one of the most well used features of Outlook 2010+Sharepoint 2010. Meeting workspaces are a great way to keep meetings structured, documents together and histories retained. We have used this feature to almost entirely do away with traditional meeting minutes and greatly reduced the secretarial support required. It's a real shame this feature has gone. Jason

simonh
simonh

Great broad sweeping assumption there. One minimally used feature has been removed (or moved) and MS no longer cares about corporate customers. Your very specific needs may have been brushed over on this occasion. But have you for a second considered that this may be beneficial to more people than not? A faster, more clean and lean Outlook has been needed for a long time. Ejecting little used features is a great step forward and demonstrates the opposite to me. MS really NEED corporate customers more than ever and are adjusting the Office application suite to achieve this.

scottmc101
scottmc101

@carminep @CIOandManager If you are rolling out a volume license copy, you can purchase volume licensing and the MS website will let you install older versions (back to 2010 I think) ... FYI.

mlewis
mlewis

Sorry Simonh, your words above do not make any sense. Workspaces are not minimally used (you seem to have a narrow view of its use). I think our "specific needs" have been "brushed over" again and again in every new release of Office. I assure you if you are not using Workspaces, it's absents can't possibly be any benefit to you, you would never see it. All changes seem to me to be pointing to the home users. I see no improvement.