5 tips for managing your Outlook mailbox

Power User Corner

By Paul Cornell

Managing your Microsoft Outlook® 2002 mailbox can eat up a lot of your time. Use these five quick power tips to manage your mailbox with ease.

Applies to
Microsoft Outlook® 2002

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For those of us addicted to e-mail and for those who just want to communicate with Mom and Aunt Em, Microsoft Outlook provides many productivity-boosting features. However, managing the volume of messages we receive each day can be a daunting task.

But here's good news: There are several tips you can use to keep control of your mailbox. For example, you can use shortcut keys to quickly process e-mail messages. You can automatically move e-mail from certain senders out of your Inbox or delete them altogether. You can even preview messages before you open them to help you prioritize. Check out these five tips, which address (excuse the pun) how to do these tasks and more with your e-mail.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Once you discover keyboard shortcuts, you may find it tough to use your computer without them. Here are three important keyboard shortcuts that you can use to manage e-mail messages in your Outlook Inbox:

  • Press CTRL+D to delete the current e-mail message.
  • Press CTRL+R to reply to the current e-mail message.
  • Press CTRL+F to forward the current e-mail message.

You can also manage junk e-mail in your Outlook 2002 Inbox with the following keyboard shortcuts. If the Junk E-mail feature hasn't been enabled in Outlook, follow these steps first:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Organize, and then click Junk E-Mail.
  2. Set options for handling junk mail and/or adult content messages, and then click Turn on. You can now use the following shortcuts to manage your junk e-mail:
  • Press ALT+A, J, J to add the current e-mail message's sender to your Junk Senders List.
  • Press ALT+A, J, A to add the current e-mail message's sender to your Adult Content Senders List.

After running one of these commands, press CTRL+D to delete the current e-mail message.

Automatically manage incoming messages

You can set up rules to have Outlook 2002 help you manage incoming e-mail messages. For example, Outlook can:

  • Alert you when you receive a message from your supervisor.
  • Move messages that have the text "Meeting Minutes" in the Subject line to your Meetings folder.
  • Flag incoming messages that are from a distribution list.

To set up a rule:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Rules Wizard.
  2. Click New.
  3. Click an action in the upper list.
  4. Customize the action in the lower list.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Provide any additional information based on the action that you selected.
  7. Click Finish.

 Note   After step 7, you will see a message: This rule is a client-only rule, and will process only when Outlook is running. This isn't an error message; it just indicates that this rule resides on your computer and is only active when Outlook is running. Server-side rules (rules that reside on a server) are active regardless of whether Outlook is currently running or not.

Streamline your frequent mailers

If you frequently send e-mail to the same person, make it easier on yourself. In Outlook, you can create a desktop shortcut that will open a blank, pre-addressed message that's all ready for you to send. Here's how:

  1. Right-click in an empty area of your desktop, point to New, and then click Shortcut.
  2. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, type mailto: and enter the e-mail address of your recipient, leaving no spaces.
  3. Click Next, and then choose a name for your shortcut.
  4. Click Finish, and a new shortcut appears on your desktop.
  5. Double-click the icon, and Outlook opens with your recipient's address in the To field. Just compose your message and send as normal.

Clean up your mailbox

You can quickly clean up your Outlook mailbox to reduce the amount of distracting mailbox clutter. To use this feature:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Mailbox Cleanup.
  2. Select options to find old or large items to move or delete.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Click AutoArchive to move old items to Archive Folders.
    • Click Empty to permanently delete items from your Deleted Items folder.


  • To see where the archive folders are stored, right-click the Archive Folders folder in your Folder List, click Properties for Archive Folders, click Advanced, and look at the Filename box.
  • To customize archiving behavior, on the Tools menu, click Options, click the Other tab, and click AutoArchive.

Read e-mail messages without opening them

You can quickly manage your Outlook e-mail messages by glancing at the message content without taking the time to open the messages. There are two ways:

  • On the View menu, click AutoPreview to see the first three lines of each e-mail message in the message list.
  • On the View menu, click Preview Pane to see the complete e-mail message below the message list.

Keep sending that e-mail!

We look forward to receiving your e-mail messages at pwruser@microsoft.com. We really want this to be your column, so please send us your comments and favorite handcrafted Office solutions. Remember, we will not be able to feature every Office solution that we receive, we will not have the time to respond to all of your e-mail, and we are not technical support representatives. But we may feature your solution in an upcoming column.

About the author

Paul Cornell works for the Office Help team. In addition to writing the Office Power User Corner column, Paul contributes to the Office Talk column for the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). He is the author of the book Accessing and Analyzing Data with Microsoft Excel.

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