Three handy ways to customize Outlook

Tweak your Outlook menus and toolbars so that it's easy to access just the tools you need.

#1: Rearrange existing commands

Most of us use a few commands a lot, and seldom, if ever, use the rest. You can rearrange the commands on a menu or toolbar, making selection a bit more efficient. To do so, choose Tools | Customize, click the Commands tab, and click Rearrange Commands. In the Rearrange Commands dialog box (Figure A), select either the Menu Bar or Toolbar option. Then, choose the appropriate menu or toolbar from the drop-down list at the top of the dialog box. The Controls list box will display the commands, including submenus, as they appear from top to bottom on the menu (or left to right on the selected toolbar).

Figure A

customize outlook

You can add, delete, or move a command up or down (or left and right). Clicking Add will position the new item above or to the left of the selected command. You can also modify the selection by changing its caption and other attributes. Select Begin A Group if you want to add a separator above or beside the selected command. Clicking Reset removes all the customization, in case you need to start over.

#2: Move commands the easy way

You don't have to use the Customize dialog box to move commands on a toolbar. Hold down the Alt key, click on a button, and drag it to an alternate position or off the toolbar completely. To restore the tool, reset the toolbar or use the Customize dialog box to put it back.

If you remove a custom command, you'll have to rebuild it if you ever need it again. Consider moving custom commands to a custom toolbar created for the purpose of storing custom commands you think you no longer need. Someday, you may want that command and you can simply restore it from the custom toolbar instead of rebuilding it.

#3: Create custom toolbars

To create a custom toolbar, choose Customize | Tools. Everything you need is right there in the Customize dialog box. Click the Toolbars tab and then click New. In the New Toolbar dialog box (Figure B), enter a name and click OK. Outlook will create a new, empty toolbar. Just switch to the Commands tab to add built-in commands to the new toolbar by dragging them from the Commands list.

Figure B

new toolbar

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.

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