Archive for the ‘Outlook’ Category


Office: Read-aloud functions

August 17, 2020

Earlier versions of Word (and possibly other Microsoft Office programs) had basic text-to-speech options. In Word for Windows 2010 to 2016, this was under the ‘Speak’ icon (see: However, Microsoft has improved text-to-speech options in Office, and has put the ‘read-aloud option on the Review ribbon where you can find it easily.

Instead of writing up all the Windows and Office 365 settings for customising text-to-speech (male or female voice, accent, reading speed etc.), Office-Watch (a newsletter I highly recommend) covered all the bases in some recent articles:

[Links last checked August 2020]




F12 to save as

September 24, 2019

I hate the way Microsoft Office has been removing (or more likely, hiding) functions that power users have used for many years. It smacks of ‘dumbing down’, to me.

Office 365 programs allow you to ‘save as’ but to get the full set of ‘save as’ options (such as the settings under the Tools drop-down arrow) you have to click the More options link under the file path where they want you to save the document.

There’s a quicker way if you have a keyboard with all the function keys—press F12 to open the Save As dialog box. Done.

(By the way, F12 to ‘save as’ works with many other programs too.)


Outlook 365: Temperature on the calendar

August 20, 2019

I noticed this morning that today’s temperature is displayed at the top of the calendar view in Outlook 365. The problem was that the temperature was for somewhere hot (and in Fahrenheit), and I’m in the middle of winter (and use Celsius)! So Outlook obviously wasn’t taking any of the Windows region settings into account.

A quick search on Google and I found out how to change the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius (File > Options > Calendar, scroll to the bottom for the weather settings) (found here:

However, the instructions for changing the location by clicking the little arrow next to the default Washington DC location didn’t work for me—I couldn’t see even see ‘Washington DC’ let alone the arrow. I have Outlook open in my portrait-oriented monitor, so I moved it to my landscape monitor and resized the window. Ah! now I could see both Washington DC and the arrow and could change my location. When I moved it back into the portrait monitor and resized the window, I lost the location information and the drop-down arrow, but the temperature values (and in Celsius) for my location was now displayed correctly.

I call that a win!


Outlook: Spellcheck not working

September 18, 2018

I was working on my laptop, which has Office 2016 installed on it. Spellcheck worked fine in Word, but when I was in Outlook, no spelling errors were flagged. When I looked at the spellcheck settings in Outlook, all options were greyed out and unavailable. I couldn’t turn it on or off, or change anything else.

I consulted Dr Google, and found that a possible reason was a different version of Outlook and Word (see

But I had installed Office 2016, so they should be the same version, right? And then I remembered something from way back when… When I installed Office 2016 on my laptop, I couldn’t connect to Exchange Server (which is part of Small Business Server [SBS] 2008) from Outlook. My IT guys told me the reason was that Outlook 2016 was incompatible with Exchange Server 2008, so with their help I’d uninstalled Outlook 2016 and reinstalled my earlier Outlook 2013.

I checked the properties of both Outlook and Word to see which version I was using. Unfortunately, Microsoft no longer has an ‘About’ option; instead, go to File > Account or Help and you should be able to find your version. If they are different (i.e. Outlook’s version starts with 14 [Office 2010], or 15 [Office 2013] and the Word version starts with 16 [Office 2016]), you now know that spellcheck won’t work in Outlook.

Personally, I think this is a bug. If the proofing tools (i.e. spellcheck) are associated with a version folder on the PC, then it shouldn’t matter whether you’ve opened Word or Outlook—the programs should use the proofing tools specific to that version. Yes, the words you’ve added to each may not be available to the other, but they should still point to the applicable proofing tools for the version. However, according to the information in the link above, it’s winword.exe that’s loaded for the spellcheck, NOT the proofing tools. So if winword.exe is in a different Office folder to Outlook (e.g. office 16 versus Office 15), Outlook can’t find the spellcheck tools. Go figure.

[Links last checked September 2018]



Word: The things you learn – scroll tabs on the ribbon

August 14, 2018

Just when I thought there wasn’t much new to learn about the Word for Office for Windows interface… (NOTE: I tested this technique in Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel, and it works the same in all of them, so it must be a Microsoft Office thing.)

Over on an editors’ Facebook group today, one of the members posted a trick that was new to her—it’s new to me too, but may well have been in Office for Windows ever since the ribbon interface came in with Office 2007.

That trick is quickly moving between tabs on the ribbon by hovering over one tab, then rolling the scroll wheel of your mouse. It’s another way to minimise wrist movements using a mouse.

Whether you go left to right through the tabs, or vice versa, depends on which way you roll the scroll wheel—roll it towards you and you go from left to right; roll it forward and you go from right to left. You can only roll to the first or last tab; further rolling doesn’t ‘wrap’ around the tabs.



Outlook: Lost the preview pane and minimized to the title bar only

January 16, 2017

Something went askew with my Outlook — I only had a title bar when minimized, so had to maximize the window to see my emails. And instead of getting a list of emails with a preview of each in the lower part of the screen as I clicked on each one, I could only get the list of emails OR the current email fully displayed, not how I had it before. I don’t know what happened or why, but I was able to solve both issues with a bit of Googling.

Resize the Outlook window

I could maximize the window fully, but when I restored the window size it went to just a title bar. I could drag a handle to make the title bar wider or narrower, but I couldn’t pull down the corners to display the window.

Solution: Drag the title bar to either the right or left edge of the window. You get a ghost outline of the new window dimensions, so release the mouse. You should now have a workable window you can resize to your requirements.

Restore the Preview pane

No matter what I set in Outlook’s View tab > Reading Pane settings, I could only get either ALL my emails listed (with the unread ones showing about 3 lines of the email) , or get a single email listed with the details of the sender in the lower half of the window. My usual way of viewing emails is a single line list on the right (whether read or not; #1 in the screenshot below), a preview of the email in the middle part of the screen (#2), and the sender’s details and other communications in the lower part of the screen (#3). No matter what I set, I couldn’t get my usual view back.

outlook preview pane

I found the solution that worked for me here:

In case this webpage ever goes missing, here’s what to do:

  1. Close Outlook.
  2. From the Start button (I’m using Windows 7, so vary this for the version of Windows you’re running), type Run then click the Run program.
  3. In the Open field on the Run dialog box, type outlook.exe /cleanviews (Note: there’s a space after exe but no other spaces).
  4. Click OK.
  5. If this works for you as it did for me, Outlook should reopen with your preview pane back as it was. Adjust the heights of the preview pane elements to suit.



How big?

January 29, 2015

In computer terms, what we think of as ‘big’ has changed a lot over time. Things that were unimaginably big only a few years ago are now considered tiny.

For example, when I bought my first computer system in 1994 (with the printer, modem monitor etc., it cost more than $7000 at the time!), I had a ‘top of the wozza, future-proof’ system. I recall that the hard drive was a massive 384 MB, and I think it had 512 KB of RAM — really fast for the day.  Now, I can buy an external 3 TB hard drive for around $100, and laptops that are more powerful than those used to get us to the moon and back cost less than $1000.

But it’s data size I want to talk about. Specifically, what Microsoft Outlook 2010 considers ‘big’.

I was cleaning out some of my sent items, and decided to sort by size. And this is when I found out that Outlook 2010 considers anything over 5 MB to be ‘enormous’; between 1 and 5 MB ‘huge’, and between 500 KB and 1 MB ‘very large’. These seem such an antiquated descriptions in 2015, and I wonder if this aspect of the interface just hasn’t been looked at in a long time.



Note: I checked the same sent items in Outlook 2013, and it seems Microsoft have changed what they consider big — 5 to 10 MB is now considered ‘very large’, and 1 to 5 MB is ‘large’.




Email etiquette at work

February 25, 2013

Based on a writing tip I wrote recently for my work colleagues.


Brad asked:

Do you have any information on etiquette/guidelines/best practise for emails, specifically when not to CC people who may have been on an original email? I see a lot of emails that start off as a simple one-way communication, i.e. not necessarily expecting a conversation, where people are CC’ed (managers or supervisors usually) that then escalates into a back and forth discussion, not necessarily in a bad way, but where all original participants are retained.

Good question, Brad.

Below I’ve compiled a list of etiquette rules for internal email that I gleaned from several websites that deal with this question (see the links at the end). I haven’t ranked them in any particular order, and I haven’t expanded too much on any of them as they should be self-explanatory (if you need more detail, see the links):

  • Begin with a simple greeting, and end with ‘Thanks’, ‘Regards’ or similar as well as your signature (set up an automated signature in Outlook 2007 by going to Tools > Options > Mail Format tab > Signatures button)
  • Make sure the subject line reflects the contents of the email
  • Be as concise as possible; use bullet points or short paragraphs, with just one idea per paragraph or bullet point
  • Ask permission before forwarding another person’s email
  • Reply in a timely fashion
  • Send personal emails from your PERSONAL account, not the company’s
  • All work email (even deleted mail) is the property of the company and is NOT private
  • Don’t send chain mail, forwards, hoaxes, jokes, or other unprofessional emails to your work colleagues (see link below for urban legends and hoaxes)
  • Before clicking ‘Send’, re-read your message and check the list of recipients. Check the recipients again – do they ALL need to get the email?
  • Don’t ‘Reply all’ out of habit – ‘Reply’ is usually sufficient; if you do ‘Reply all’, check the list of recipients first and delete those who don’t need the information
  • Delete any unwanted ‘threads’ in the email before replying  – only reply to what you’ve been asked; trim out the unnecessary bits of previous conversations
  • Don’t send huge attachments – link to the document or folder on the network instead; typically, you can’t attach files to an email that are more than about 5 MB in total
  • Use standard English and punctuation; use acronyms sparingly; avoid sarcasm and irony as they don’t translate well in words; avoid emoticons (smileys) and ‘text-speak’; curb your use of exclamation points
  • Use standard fonts, font sizes, colours, and sentence case
  • Use the CC line for those who need to get a copy of the email, but who aren’t the main recipient; use the BCC line for those whose email addresses you don’t want to disclose (don’t forget – assume that every email you send from the company account is NOT private, whether you use BCC or not); be judicious in who you add to the CC/BCC lists – not everyone has to see everything, and ‘reply all’ threads become very cumbersome
  • If you and the recipient are in a long email chain trying to get your message understood, pick up the phone and call them, or meet them face to face
  • Set up Inbox folders and learn how to use ‘rules’ to route emails into those folders (Tools > Rules and Alerts)

More information:

[Links last checked February 2013]


Outlook: Globally change Country/Region for contacts

October 10, 2012

I have close to 900 contacts in my Outlook address book. When I was in the By Location view, I’d noticed that some address formats weren’t quite right so I started to fix the entries individually. That was fine for the early parts of the address, but I had some 650 contacts in Australia, some 160 in the US, and smaller numbers for other countries. Many of them just needed a country added, or ‘USA’ changed to United States of America (the drop-down value in the country list).

Doing it one at a time was getting painful!

So I did a quick search on the internet and after plowing through a lot of sites that weren’t relevant, I found the solution at Slipstick, a terrific resource for all things Outlook:

In essence, you show your contacts in the By Location view, sort by Country/Region, then right click on the Country/Region header and select Group by this field. Make sure that at least one address in each contact group has the correct country.

Then select and drag those without a country or with the wrong country onto the group that already has the country. Each one changes instantly!

I was very happy as I just saved a HEAP of time.

Thanks Slipstick!

See also:

[Links last checked October 2012]


Outlook: Delay the delivery of an email

March 26, 2012

Did you know that you can delay the delivery of an email so that it’s sent at a time and date of your choosing? Very handy if you have an announcement you want to make at a particular time/date, or if want to sit on your response for a while (though I strongly suggest you use the Drafts folder for that type of email!)

Here’s how in Outlook 2007 and 2010:

  1. Click New E-mail as you would for any new email message.
  2. On the new message window, you’ll see a custom ribbon specific to that email. Click the Options tab.

    Go to the Options tab on a new email message window

    Go to the Options tab on a new email message window

  3. Go to the More Options group, and click Delay Delivery.

    Click Delay Delivery in the More Options group

    Click Delay Delivery in the More Options group

  4. Complete the details on the Properties window, then click Close.

    Complete the time/date and other details

    Complete the time/date and other details

  5. Click Send as usual — the message will sit in your Outbox until the time/date you specified, when it will be sent.

While this is a handy feature, there are some issues with it. For details on those, see:

[Links last checked March 2012]