Software

Increase your communication efficiency using a draft message as a template

With some careful use of draft features found in Outlook, you can increase your efficiency when it comes to sending repeat emails.

Most of us have an email task or two that we repeat occasionally. You might retype the message each time you need it if it's short. A more efficient solution might be to store the message in the Drafts folder and send the message, as needed, from there - or at least you thought it was a good idea. The problem with this simple solution is that Outlook deletes a message from the Drafts folder when you send it. Outlook doesn't offer an option to store the "template" after you send it.

Fortunately, there's a simple workaround: instead of opening the template message as you normally would, by double-clicking it, click Forward instead! (Forward is on the Home tab in the Respond group.) Clicking forward opens a copy of the message that you can send without removing the original from the Drafts folder. How simple is that?

You might worry that Outlook will preface each line of a plain text message that you forward with the > character, but it won't - Outlook doesn't treat a message in the Drafts folder the same as a message sitting in your Inbox.

Now that I'm brought it up, I might as well show you how to disable this behavior even though it's not a factor in this particular case. Most readers hate the prefaced text in forwarded messages, so it's usually a good change. You can disable this feature as follows:

  1. Click the File tab. select Options under Help in the left pane, and then select Mail in the left pane. In Outlook 2003, choose Options from the Tools menu. Then, select Preferences and E-mail Options.
  2. In the Replies and Forward section, choose Include Original Message Text from the When Forwarding A Message dropdown. The default is Prefect Each Line Of The Original Message, with the > character as the default character.
  3. Click OK.

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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