How in the world can we get control of our Inboxes? If you’re like most people, you get dozens of messages a day — at a minimum. Some you need, some are spam, some you want to file away until you have a chance for a closer look. Quick Steps in Outlook 2010 can help you organize your messages right off the bat so you can keep moving and finish the things you really need to do today. Here are a few pointers to get you started with this new feature.

1: Check out the ready-made Quick Steps

Outlook 2010 comes already equipped with a set of Quick Steps that enable you to manage volumes of email with just a click (or two) of the mouse. Display the Quick Steps by starting Outlook 2010, clicking Mail, and clicking the More button in the bottom corner of the Quick Steps gallery. You’ll find Quick Steps that let you send a message to your manager, create a team email, mark an item as done, or reply to a message and delete the original message sent (Figure A).

Figure A

2: Set up Quick Steps for first time use

Each of the existing Quick Steps requires a little action from you. The first time you click To Manager, for example, a First Time Use dialog box appears so that you can enter the manager’s name, add his or her email address, and set options (for instance, you can specify additional actions, like saving the message to a specific folder or assigning a shortcut key). When you first use your Quick Steps, do this setup for all the steps at the same time. It will take only a minute, and then each of the items will be ready to use when you need them.

3: Create your own Quick Steps

You can also build custom Quick Steps to suit your specific needs. Click the More button and click Create New to display the Edit Quick Step dialog box. Enter a name for the step and click the arrow in the Choose An Action field. Select the action you want the Quick Step to perform. You can specify additional actions if you like by clicking Add Action. You can also assign a shortcut key to activate the Quick Step. Click Finish to save your new tool.

4: Manage your Quick Steps

Over time, you may develop a number of Quick Steps you’d like to organize, reorder, delete, or duplicate. You can do all these tasks in the Manage Quick Steps dialog box (Figure B). Display the dialog box by clicking the dialog launcher in the lower-right corner of the Quick Steps group in the Home tab. You can then create, edit, duplicate, rearrange, or delete Quick Steps. You can also restore the Quick Step list to the original default setting if you like.

Figure B

5: Create ToolTips for your Quick Steps

Okay, not everybody loves ToolTips. But they can help you remember the difference between various Quick Steps if you have so many, you can’t recall what they do. To add a ToolTip to a Quick Step, choose Manage Quick Steps from the Quick Steps list. In the Manage Quick Steps dialog box, click the desired Quick Step and click Edit. In the bottom of the Edit Quick Step dialog box, type the text you want to appear when you hover the mouse over the Quick Step and then click Finish. Outlook 2010 will then remind you what the Quick Step does.

Katherine Murray is the author of Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010). You can reach Katherine through her blog, BlogOffice, or by emailing

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