Office Q&A: Reclaim old options and quickly find related messages

This month, Susan Harkins shows you how to reclaim old Word tools and access related messages using Outlook search folders.

Quite often, I lose a little time searching for my glasses only to find them on my head. There's no help for me in that regard. However, if you're looking for things in Office, I might be able to help you! This month, I showed Germán how to reclaim a familiar old Word tool by adding it to the Quick Access Toolbar. In addition, I introduced Hein to Outlook's search folders.

I'm using Office 2016 (desktop) on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but these instructions will work in Office 2010 and 2013. Instructions for Office 2007 are similar enough that you should find your way with little trouble. There's no downloadable demonstration folder.

Add old options to the Quick Access Toolbar

Germán has used Word's Calculate tool for years. After upgrading to Word 2016, the tool was missing. For better or worse, options go missing with each upgrade to make room for new tools and options. Most of the time, Office still supports older tools. Germán's quick fix is to add Calculate to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

If you can't find your favorite tool or feature after upgrading, you might find it lurking but unavailable via the interface. To find a missing tool in any Office application and add it to the QAT, do the following:

  1. Click the QAT's dropdown arrow and choose More Commands (Figure A).
  2. From the Choose Commands dropdown, choose Commands Not In The Ribbon.
  3. Thumb through the list below until you find the tool, then select it.
  4. Click Add (between the two lists) to add the tool to the QAT (the right-hand list shown in Figure B).
  5. Click OK to return to Word. The tool is now available on the QAT (Figure C).

Figure A

Access the QAT interface.

Figure B

Add the tool to the QAT.

Figure C

Access the old tool from the QAT.

For complete instructions on how to add tools to the QAT or the Ribbon, read Two easy ways to customize the Ribbon interface. You can add tools to the QAT in all Office applications.

SEE: How to create Outlook appointments from Excel data (TechRepublic)

Outlook search folders

Like most of us, Hein has several projects going at any given time. He'd like to switch back and forth between categorized messages for his projects, but filtering the Inbox is a bit awkward and unstable. He could consider applying rules that move messages into project-specific folders, but doing so won't facilitate viewing categories and flags that stretch across multiple folders. When you find search strings and folders inadequate, consider using search folders; I use them nearly every day.

SEE: Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Training (TechRepublic Academy)

A search folder is a virtual folder that lists all email messages that match the criteria you supply. You can have multiple search folders and they can share common messages.

Now, let's suppose you have messages in your Inbox and project folders that are temporarily inactive because you're waiting on others to respond to questions or perform some task before you can continue. Every morning, you open each folder and sort for the messages to review status for these inactive situations. That doesn't sound so horrible, but you can't see all of them at the same time, which might be necessary to prioritize your work—you can't see the big picture. A better solution would be a search folder for all Waiting messages.

First, let's set things up a bit. As you can see in Figure D, the Inbox has two messages categorized as Waiting. If you don't use categories, you can use flags or some other criteria (simply select something different in step 3 below). Imagine that you have lots of Waiting messages across several folders and stretching over several days.

Figure D

There are two messages with the Waiting category assigned.

To see all Waiting messages at the same time, let's create a search folder:

  1. If you have more than one account, select the account in question.
  2. In the Folders list, right-click Search Folder (at the bottom) and choose New Search Folder (Figure E).
  3. In the resulting dialog, select Categorized Mail (Figure F) from the Organizing Mail section and click Choose. To work with flagged messages, choose Mail Flagged For Follow up in the Reading Mail section instead.
  4. Check the Waiting category, as shown in Figure G, and click OK.
  5. Change the account you're searching if necessary (you usually won't need to do so).
  6. Click OK.

Figure E

Create a new search folder.

Figure F

Select Categorized Mail.

Figure G

Select the Waiting category.

To see all Waiting messages across all folders at any time, simply select the Waiting search folder (Figure H). It updates automatically as you apply and remove the Waiting category to other messages. This folder will even display messages in the Deleted Items folder (which has saved me more than once). You can work from this folder and reference it as often as needed. If you delete a message from the search folder, Outlook will not delete that message from its real folder.

Figure H

Work with related messages in a single search folder.

To see another real-world search folder example, read Filter for all sent and received mail on the current day in Office Q&A: Three ways to search for messages in Outlook. If you're using Outlook 2013 or 2016, this article will show you how to reclaim categories for your IMAP accounts.

Send me your question about Office

I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at

Also read...


About Susan Harkins

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.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox