Getting the Most Out of the Microsoft Outlook Client : Highlighted Features in Outlook 2007

3/1/2011 8:56:14 AM
As previously mentioned, new versions of Outlook continue to provide new features and functionality, in addition to enhancing existing features. In this section, administrators can find information covering some of the new features that organizations might find beneficial, along with new tools for the end user.

Understanding the Outlook 2007 Interface

There is a lot of information kept in Exchange Server mailboxes these days, and the Outlook interface has changed to improve the organization and presentation of this data. Additionally, the price of large screen monitors has come down significantly, and they are in ever-widening use, giving many users more “real estate” to work with.

In Outlook 2007, Microsoft divided the Outlook view into four main sections: the navigation pane, the message index pane, the reading pane (also sometimes called the preview pane), and the To-Do bar, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Outlook 2007 interface.

The Navigation Pane

The navigation pane is primarily used to view, open, and manage individual folders that make up the user’s mailbox. It enables the user to add or remove favorites, which are shortcuts to commonly accessed folders. There is also a shortcuts section, which allows single-click access to the various areas of the Outlook client. The navigation pane can be minimized or turned off completely. Under the View menu, click Navigation Pane, and select either Normal, Minimized, or Off. Alternatively, the user can toggle through these choices by pressing the Alt+F1 keys.

The Message Index Pane

To the right of the navigation pane is the message index pane. This display box shows a summary for each message contained in the folder that is currently viewed (the folder currently selected in the navigation pane). This summary typically includes the Sender’s address, the date and time the message was received, and a portion of the information contained in the Subject.

When a user clicks a message in the index pane one time, they select the message, and a preview of the message displays in the reading pane. When the user double-clicks a message instead, Outlook 2007 opens that message in a separate window.

The message index pane can be resized by hovering the mouse on the border of the pane until the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow. Click the left mouse button and hold it while dragging the border to the desired location.

The Reading Pane

The reading pane enables the user to preview the contents of a message without opening the message completely. In addition to the convenience of this method, there is a security related benefit as well—potentially malicious scripts or attachments are not activated or opened automatically in the reading pane.

Users can also view attachments in the reading pane. After the user clicks the attachment in the reading pane, they are warned, You Should Only Preview Files from a Trustworthy Source. The user can then click Preview File and view the contents of the attachment.


For users to preview an attachment, they must have an application installed on their workstation that is capable of opening the attachment. For example, to preview an Excel spreadsheet, users must have Excel installed.

In addition to viewing attachments, the reading pane also enables users to follow embedded hyperlinks, use voting buttons, view follow-up information, and respond to meeting requests.

The reading pane can be enabled or disabled by clicking Reading Pane in the View menu. When enabled, the reading pane can be located to the right of the message index pane or underneath it. As with the preceding index pane, the reading pane can be resized by dragging and dropping the borders to the desired location.

The To-Do Bar

On the right edge of the main Outlook page is the To-Do bar. By default, the To-Do bar displays a Date Navigator, which is a calendar of the current month. Dates shown in bold are dates where the user has at least one meeting scheduled. By clicking any date on the date navigator, the users are taken immediately to the selected date in their own Calendar inside of Outlook. Next, the pane shows the user’s next three appointments and a list of outstanding tasks.

Any of these three features can be disabled, and the To-Do bar minimized or turned off completely, by going to the View menu and clicking To-Do Bar. Alternatively, the user can minimize the To-Do bar, turn it off completely, or restore it, by pressing the Alt+F2 keys.

Similarities with Outlook Web App

The Outlook 2007 graphical user interface (GUI) is similar to the GUI for Outlook Web Access users on an Exchange Server 2007 environment. It is similar to OWA 2010 as well, in the general layout, but Outlook 2007 cannot take advantage of some of the new features that Exchange Server 2010 provides, such as viewing the Presence status of fellow employees and the MailTips feature.

Methods for Highlighting Outlook Items

Each new version of Outlook has improved the methods for organizing and finding messages. As email becomes a more and more common way of sharing information, the volume of mail received by end users will continue to increase. With Outlook 2007, users are given enhanced methods for organizing, categorizing, and flagging messages when working with Outlook and Exchange Server.

Using Quick Flags to Tag Messages

Using quick flags has changed in Outlook 2007. End users used to assign a colored flag to a message to help them organize messages. In previous versions of Outlook, these flags had no predetermined meanings. This meant the user was free to use them in whatever manner they wanted. In Outlook 2007, the flags now have some predefined meanings for follow-up tasks. Flags can be set for when a message must be dealt with and setting these flags results in a new entry in the Tasks area of the To-Do Bar.

To set quick flags in the Outlook 2007 client, complete the following:

Right-click on the gray flag icon on the far-right side of the email message in the Inbox to access the flag options.

Choose the flag you need to use.

Flags can also be used to configure a reminder. The option for using reminders with flags allows users to configure information and a due date associated with each flag. To configure a reminder, complete these steps:

Flag the message.

Right-click on the flag and choose Add Reminder.

Choose the reason to flag the message and then choose a due date.

Choose the date and time for the reminder, and click OK when you are finished.

If you have the To-Do bar enabled, you will now see your flagged message in the task area, similar to that shown in Figure 2, showing the flag, the category, and a bell to represent that there is a reminder set.

Figure 2. Flagged and categorized message with reminder.

In addition to flags, Outlook 2007 supports color-coded Categories that can be assigned to items. Categories have no predefined meaning, so users can implement them however they want. For example, a user might decide that the Yellow category references projects that are in danger, and Red refers to projects that are over budget. By simply right-clicking the rounded square to the left of the flag, the user can tag the message with the desired color. Additionally, multiple categories can be assigned to messages, as shown in our example.

To help users remember what their color categories mean, they can be renamed. To do so, right-click on a category and select All Categories. Select the category to be changed and click Rename; then click the OK button. As can be seen in Figure 27.2, these category names display in the preview pane when looking at a message.


A flag with an associated reminder provides the end user a standard Outlook reminder pop-up balloon when the preconfigured reminder comes due.

Like any column in Outlook, the flag and category columns can be used as a sorting point for arranging messages. To do so, simply click the desired column header in the index pane.

Making Key Appointments Stand Out with Color

Using the Outlook 2007 calendar, this feature allows for the customization and organization of appointments using colors, allowing end-user appointments to stand out when viewing the calendar.

To choose a color and label an appointment, follow these steps:

Open the appointment in the calendar and select the multicolored button labeled Categorize. Alternatively, right-click the message in the calendar view and select Categorize.

Choose the category you want to apply.

Close the calendar item.

The calendar item will now appear with the color you selected, similar to what is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Calendar items with categories.

Creating Meetings Based on Time Zone

In older versions of Outlook, users who travel often found it difficult to schedule meetings when their destination was in another time zone. Outlook (and most computers, email servers, and email clients) uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for appointments and adjusts the time of the meeting based on the current time zone for the computer.

Users found that they would create a meeting while sitting in one time zone, for a date in the future when they would be in another time zone. At what time should they set the meeting? And if they changed their time zone on their computer when they arrive, will it adjust the meeting time?

Outlook 2007 helps with this problem with the addition of a Time Zone option from within meeting requests. To utilize this feature, open a new meeting request and complete the following:

Toward the right side of the main set of buttons, find the Globe icon labeled Time Zones.

Click the Time Zones icon and a new drop-down is created next to the start and end times.

Via the drop-down, select the time zone where the meeting is going to occur.

Select the start and stop times as usual.

Invite your attendees and click Send when you are finished.

By selecting the time zone that the meeting will be held in when creating the meeting request, users find it much easier to set the appointments for the proper time.

Using the New Search Functionality

Outlook 2007 makes it easier than ever to search through large mailboxes and calendars. Users can save searches that are commonly used and can leverage the flag and category functions mentioned earlier to provide very powerful ways of managing messages, appointments, or tasks.

Using the Query Builder

The query builder is easily accessible from the top of the toolbar above the message pane. To perform a search, do the following:

Enter the word(s) to search for in the Search Inbox box and matches will immediately highlight.

Click the double-down arrow next to Search Inbox to expand the query builder.

Click Add Criteria to add additional fields to search against.

Typing in the search area updates the results in near real time.

Saving Commonly Used Searches

To save a search, the search must be started from within the Folder list under Search Folders. To do so, complete the following steps:

Right-click on Search Folders and choose New Search Folder.

Within the New Search Folder pop-up window, choose the search folder and criteria for your search. Depending on what selection is made, the user might be presented with more options to complete before commencing the search. Choose also what part of Outlook to search.

Click OK when you are finished.

The search completes and the results are displayed in the center pane. In addition, the search is saved under the Search Folders area in the Folder list.

To delete the saved search, click on it and choose Delete.


Saved searches are also available when using Outlook Web App (OWA). For saved searches to be accessed via Outlook Web App, a user must create the saved search in Outlook 2007 first.

Managing Multiple Email Accounts from One Place

Outlook 2007 allows the end user to access multiple email accounts from the same Outlook client, including IMAP, POP3, and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) mail accounts.

To configure Outlook to access multiple mailboxes, do the following:

From Outlook 2007, select Tools; then select Account Settings.

From the E-mail tab, click New.

Select the Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP, or HTTP radio button and click Next.

Enter the appropriate information for the email account so that it can be properly connected.

If your server does not support autodiscovery (that is, Exchange 2000 Server or Exchange Server 2003), you need to check the box for Manually Configure Server Settings.

Click Next.

Click Finish, completing the account setup.

Taking Advantage of the Trust Center

Outlook 2007 adds a new function called the Trust Center. The Trust Center is a centralized location for the management of security-related functions in Outlook 2007. This includes the following:

  • Trusted Publishers

  • Add-ins

  • Privacy Options

  • Email Security

  • Attachment Handling

  • Automatic Download

  • Macro Security

  • Programmatic Access

By placing these functions under a single interface, it is much easier to manage the security functions in Outlook 2007.

Introducing RSS Feeds

New to Outlook 2007 is the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Many blogs and news sites are offering RSS feeds as a way to disseminate information. RSS feeds are a concept similar to the old Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).

To subscribe to an RSS feed, simply do the following:

In Outlook 2007, select Tools; then Account Settings.

From the Account Settings window, click the RSS Feeds tab.

Click New.

Enter the uniform resource locator (URL) to the RSS feed you want to add, and click Add.

If the URL is valid, you will see the RSS Feed Options page. Choose the settings you want for this feed, similar to those shown in Figure 4, and click OK.

Figure 4. Sample RSS Feed Options page.

Click Close and then click OK.

  •  Sharepoint 2010 : Deploying Transport-Level Security for SharePoint
  •  sharepoint 2010 : Verifying Security Using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
  •  sharepoint 2010 : Utilizing Security Templates to Secure a SharePoint Server
  •  Integrating Office Communications Server 2007 in an Exchange Server 2010 Environment : Web Conferencing
  •  Integrating Office Communications Server 2007 in an Exchange Server 2010 Environment : Installing and Using the Communicator 2007 Client
  •  Integrating Office Communications Server 2007 in an Exchange Server 2010 Environment : Exploring Office Communications Server Tools and Concepts
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Securing SharePoint’s SQL Server Installation
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Physically Securing SharePoint Servers
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Identifying Isolation Approaches to SharePoint Security
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 5) - Starting the OCS Services on the Server & Validating Server Functionality
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 4) - Configuring the Server & Configuring Certificates for OCS
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 3) - Configuring Prerequisites & Deploying an OCS 2007 Server
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 2) - Prepping the Domain & Delegating Setup and Administrative Privileges
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Installing OCS 2007 R2 (part 1) - Extending the Active Directory (AD) Schema & Preparing the AD Forest
  •  Integrating Office Communications Server 2007 in an Exchange Server 2010 Environment - Understanding Microsoft’s Unified Communications Strategy
  •  Protecting SharePoint 2010 from Viruses Using Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint
  •  Protecting SharePoint with Advanced Antivirus and Edge Security Solutions : Securing SharePoint Sites Using Forefront UAG
  •  Developing Applications for the Cloud on the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform : Accessing the Surveys Application - Geo-Location
  •  Developing Applications for the Cloud on the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform : DNS Names, Certificates, and SSL in the Surveys Application
  •  Securing SharePoint Sites with Forefront TMG 2010 (part 2) - Creating a SharePoint Publishing Rule Using Forefront TMG
    Top 10
    Samsung Galaxy Camera - The Future Of Digital Photography (Part 2)
    Samsung Galaxy Camera - The Future Of Digital Photography (Part 1)
    Sony RX1 - The World’s Smallest Full-Frame Camera (Part 3)
    Sony RX1 - The World’s Smallest Full-Frame Camera (Part 2)
    Sony RX1 - The World’s Smallest Full-Frame Camera (Part 1)
    Alma S1800 HD FTA Media Player - HD Free To Air Satellite Receiver
    Belkin @TV Plus - Mobile Television Anywhere
    Golden Media Spark One - Plenty To Offer Out Of The Box (Part 2)
    Golden Media Spark One - Plenty To Offer Out Of The Box (Part 1)
    View21 VW11FVRHD50 - View What You Want In Any Room Wirelessly
    Most View
    Apple may soon have a new competitor
    SQL Server 2008 : Working with DML Queries - Using the UPDATE Statement (part 2)
    Windows 7 : Using Windows Live Calendar (part 3) - Scheduling Appointments and Meetings & Viewing Agendas and Creating To-Do Lists
    How To – December 2012 (Part 2) : Monitor Your Home Network with NetWorx
    Windows Tips & Tricks (Part 5)
    Vectors in WPF
    Master Apple Mail (Part 3)
    Off The Shelf Or Self- Build? (Part 2)
    Some Of The Biggest Brands In The World Had Their Products (Part 5) - Ninetolocy Black Pearl 17400, HTC One S
    Transcend's aXe RAM Does The Trick
    Manage iOS with iCloud (Part 2)
    Sharepoint 2010 : Virtual Machine Management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager
    Windows Server 2008 : DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Installing and Configuring WINS
    Windows Vista : Migrating User State Data - Developing Migration Files, Using USMT in BDD 2007
    Microsoft ASP.NET 4 : Profiles - Understanding Profiles
    Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step 2010 : Solution selling concepts
    Primer – Choosing And Using Peripheral Buses (Part 2)
    Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 3) - Flowers, Depth-of-field & Lighting
    Finance - Apple Versus Google
    A Cost Effective Printer?