Introducing Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2003 is the personal information manager and communication program that gives you a unified place to manage e-mail, calendars, contacts, and other personal and team information. Key enhancements in Outlook 2003—such as Cached Exchange Mode, automatic grouping of messages, junk e-mail handling, and new reading views—improve the way you organize and manage information, and improve performance and server connectivity.

Enhancing the user experience


Navigation Pane     The new, easy-to-use Navigation Pane provides centralized navigation to all parts of Outlook, and makes it easy to see your information the way you want to see it.

E-mail folders that you frequently use can be added to Favorite Folders, along with Search Folders, and both are displayed at the top of the Mail pane in the Navigation Pane. In the Calendar pane, you can view other people’s shared calendars side-by-side with your own calendar, and you can click the Share My Calendar link to quickly share your own calendar. In the Contacts, Tasks, Notes, and Journal panes, you can use the Share My links to quickly share your folder or the Open Shared links to open another person's shared folder. You can also easily switch views by clicking a different view in the views displayed under Current View. The Shortcuts pane contains links to Outlook Today and Outlook Update. Shortcuts or shortcut groups that you previously added to the Outlook Bar for files or locations outside of Outlook, such as Microsoft Excel files or Web sites, will be automatically migrated to the Shortcuts pane when you upgrade to Outlook 2003. Shortcuts to Outlook folders will also be automatically migrated to the corresponding pane. For example, a calendar shortcut will be added to the Calendar pane.

Bullet Go menu     The new, top-level Go menu makes it easy to quickly switch between panes in the Navigation Pane. If you prefer to navigate by using keyboard shortcuts, you can use the documented shortcut keys on the Go menu, such as CTRL+1 for Mail, CTRL+2 for Calendar, and CTRL+3 for Contacts.
Bullet Reading Pane     The Preview Pane found in earlier versions of Outlook has been redesigned and optimized for reading e-mail messages. Like a piece of paper, the Reading Pane is laid out vertically and, when used with the new multi-line layout, displays nearly twice as much information on the screen as the Preview Pane did. Other enhancements include the ability to respond to meeting requests and to use voting buttons without having to open the messages.
Bullet Multi-line layout     Messages can be displayed by using either single-line layout or multi-line layout. In the new multi-line layout, four fields (From, Subject, Date, and Icon) normally are displayed in a vertical column. If the message list in multi-line layout is not displaying all the column headings about an item, you can pause on the item to display a ScreenTip containing all the information or you can specify that additional fields appear on additional lines when you pause on an item.
Bullet Arrangements     There are 13 pre-defined standard arrangements, such as grouping messages by category, flag, and importance, that help you see your messages in different ways. To quickly change from one predefined standard arrangement to another, click the Arranged By column heading, and then select the arrangement you want.
Bullet Arrange By Conversation     If you receive a lot of e-mail messages, you can now group messages in an e-mail conversation together in an arrangement that makes it easier to find and respond to conversations or "threads." To help you read your messages quickly, this arrangement initially displays only unread and Quick Flagged messages. With one click, you can expand the group to see the entire conversation, including messages you have already read. Because all messages in one conversation are presented together, you can avoid responding to an e-mail message only to discover later that someone else had already responded.
Bullet Calendar view     The Calendar view has been streamlined, and you can now view multiple calendars at once. In this view, the TaskPad is hidden (but can be easily shown by clicking TaskPad on the View menu), and the Date Navigator now is displayed in the Navigation Pane. A new indicator make it easy to quickly see the current day and time.

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Organizing and managing your Inbox


Junk E-mail Filter     The new Junk E-mail Filter is designed to work with other Outlook 2003 features to help prevent many of the unwanted e-mail messages that you receive every day. It uses state-of-the-art technology developed by Microsoft Research to evaluate whether a message should be treated as junk e-mail based on several factors, such as the time it was sent and the content of the message. The filter does not single out any particular sender or type of message; it is based on the content of the message in general and uses advanced analysis of the structure of the message to determine the probability that it is junk e-mail. By default, this filter is set to a low setting that is designed to catch the most obvious junk e-mail. Any message that is caught by the filter is moved to a special Junk E-mail folder, where you can retrieve or review it at a later time.

You can add message senders to the Safe Senders List so that their messages will never be treated as junk e-mail. Contacts are automatically trusted by default, so messages from people in your Contacts folder will also never be treated as junk e-mail. You can configure Outlook to only accept messages from the Safe Senders List, giving you total control over which messages reach your Inbox. You can easily block messages from a certain e-mail address or domain name by adding the sender to the Blocked Senders List. If you belong to a mailing list, you can add the address for the list to your Safe Recipients List so that messages sent to the mailing list will not be treated as junk e-mail. In addition, if you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail account, messages from within your organization will never be treated as junk e-mail, regardless of the content of the message.

Bullet Quick Flags     Click the flag icon next to any e-mail message to quickly flag it for follow-up. Multiple colored flags make it easy to categorize and find your messages. Only items you mark for follow-up are displayed in the For Follow Up Search Folder, which contains an up-to-date list of all Quick Flagged messages in all your e-mail folders.

Search Folders     Search Folders are virtual folders that contain views of all e-mail items matching specific search criteria. The e-mail messages shown remain stored in one or more Outlook folders. When you create a Search Folder, you have a number of options to choose from, such as Mail with attachments or Mail from specific people. You can also create your own custom Search Folders, defining specific search criteria that e-mail messages must meet to be displayed in the Search Folder. You can think of each Search Folder as a saved search that is kept up-to-date, always monitoring all your folders for any item that matches that Search Folder's search criteria.

Search Folders can be quickly set up with a number of pre-designed options, such as Mail sent to distribution lists or Mail from and to specific people. You can see all the unread e-mail messages from every folder in your mailbox in a Search Folder named Unread Mail. To help you reduce the size of your mailbox, the Large Mail Search Folder shows you the largest messages in your mailbox, regardless of what folder the messages are stored in.

Bullet Desktop Alerts     The New Mail Desktop Alert improves on the New E-mail Message alert. The Desktop Alert fades in subtly with the sender's name, subject, and a short text preview, so you can immediately see whether the new message is urgent, should be marked for follow-up, or can be safely ignored without interrupting your work in another program. The Desktop Alert contains buttons to open, flag, or delete the e-mail message and fades out just as subtly as it faded in.
Bullet Rules     Creating and organizing rules is now easier. You can create your own rules from scratch by using the familiar Outlook Rules Wizard, or you can choose from several ready-made rules that people typically use to manage incoming messages or stay informed. For example, you can use the ready-made rule Send an alert to my mobile device when I get messages from someone to keep informed of meeting changes if you are on the road. Or you can use the ready-made rule Flag messages from someone with a colored flag to automatically flag and prioritize messages from your boss. You can quickly create rules to file e-mail messages by clicking the message and then clicking Create Rule on the toolbar. Your rules list also provides an “at a glance” summary of your rules. Each rule now displays an icon for each action you specify, allowing you to see what a rule does without having to open it. You can now apply rules to incoming meeting requests and meeting updates as well as e-mail messages.
Bullet Create and manage alerts     If your organization uses Microsoft Windows® SharePoint™ Services or Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server to store and manage documents on a Web site, you can receive an e-mail notification when content on the Web site changes. Alerts notify you of changes to documents, list items, document libraries, lists, surveys, or even search results, helping you to be more effective by easily staying up-to-date with relevant information. To use alerts, click Alert Me links in any SharePoint Portal Server site, or select Rules and Alerts on the Tools menu in Outlook, and then click the Manage Alerts tab. You can create alerts for lists and libraries, as well as for individual items and any files in them. You can also specify the kinds of changes that you want to be notified of. For example, you can receive an alert when an item or file is added, modified, or deleted.
Bullet Enhanced privacy features     Messages in HTML format often include pictures or sounds. Sometimes these pictures or sounds are not included in the message itself but are instead downloaded from a Web server when the e-mail message is opened or previewed. Junk e-mail senders have used this capability to their advantage by including something called a "Web beacon" in these messages. A Web beacon notifies the Web server when you read or preview the message, thus validating the e-mail address and often resulting in more junk e-mail being sent to you. To help protect your privacy and combat Web beacons, Outlook is configured by default to block download of this external content from the Internet. If an e-mail message tries to connect unannounced to a Web server on the Internet, Outlook blocks that connection until you decide to view the content; however, e-mail messages from or to e-mail addresses or domain names on the Safe Senders and Safe Recipients Lists are treated as exceptions and the blocked content will be downloaded. This feature also allows you to avoid viewing potentially offensive messages and, if you are on a low-bandwidth connection, to decide whether an image warrants the time and bandwidth to download it.

Information Rights Management     Create or view messages with restricted permission using Information Rights Management (IRM). IRM in Outlook allows you to create messages with restricted permission to help prevent messages from being forwarded, printed, copied, or edited by unauthorized people.

Content with restricted permission can only be created using Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 or the standalone products of Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003, and Outlook 2003.

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Increasing productivity

Bullet Side-by-side calendars     View multiple calendars next to your own calendar. The calendars scroll together and are color-coded and labeled to help you quickly compare schedules or schedule meetings. After you open another person's calendar, it is added to the Calendar pane in the Navigation Pane, where you can select the check box next to the person's name to show or hide his or her calendar.
Bullet AutoComplete Improvements     AutoComplete name suggesting has been improved in several ways. You only have to type one letter for AutoComplete to begin suggesting possible matches. People you have sent e-mail messages to most frequently and most recently will always appear first in the list of suggested names. Names you use rarely are demoted or removed from the list.
Bullet Expand Distribution Lists in an e-mail message     Quickly display all the names in a Distribution List by clicking the plus sign next to the Distribution List name. This makes it easy to add or remove a few names when addressing an e-mail message, without having to modify the Distribution List or start from scratch.
Bullet Address Book     The Select Names dialog box has been enhanced to display more information. You can now quickly distinguish between e-mail addresses and fax numbers for a name. The dialog box can be resized and maximized to take advantage of larger monitors.
Bullet Word as your e-mail editor simplifications     When you use Word as your e-mail editor, the new E-mail toolbar is displayed directly above the message text when you compose a new message. The E-mail toolbar is displayed instead of the Formatting and Standard toolbars, which saves screen space by grouping commonly used commands from both these toolbars, such as Print and Bold, in one place.
Bullet Contact Picture     Add pictures to your contacts, giving you the ability to associate a face with a name and other information.
Bullet Person Names Smart Tag menu     Quickly locate contact information such as a person's phone number and complete tasks such as scheduling a meeting using the Person Names Smart Tag menu. The menu is available in Outlook wherever a person’s name appears.

Outlook icons and taskbar notification balloon tips     To conserve space on your taskbar, you can hide the Outlook 2003 window taskbar buttons when Outlook is minimized. When you hide the Outlook window taskbar buttons, the Outlook icon is displayed only in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar.

By default, Outlook now displays network warning and connectivity messages in balloon tips in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar. In addition, if you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail account, messages from the Exchange server also are displayed in the balloon tips. You can choose not to display some or all of these types of messages. These messages are all written into the Application section of the Microsoft Windows Event Log and can be viewed there instead.

Bullet Meeting Workspace     Centralize all the information and materials for an upcoming meeting by publishing them to a Meeting Workspace site. The site tracks the attendees, documents, tasks, and other details to plan, prepare for, and follow up after a meeting. Invitees can access the workspace anytime from a link that is added to the meeting request. Clicking the link opens the workspace in the invitee's browser, where he or she can view, edit, or add information to the site. Using a workspace also enables invitees to see the most current version of the meeting materials and to work together on them. That means you don't have to send large files through your e-mail system to distribute updated documents or to request input on them.
Bullet Shared attachments     When you attach a Microsoft Office document to an e-mail message, the Attachment Options task pane is displayed. By default, the attachment will be sent in the same way as in the past. However, if you select the Shared attachments option, the document when sent will be stored on a Document Workspace site that is created automatically on an available server running Windows SharePoint Services. Sharing documents helps reduce the inefficiencies typically associated with collaborative processes, such as passing the document back and forth for editing, and version control issues.

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Improving Exchange Server e-mail accounts


Cached Exchange Mode     If you use a Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail account, it is recommended that you use Cached Exchange Mode. A local copy of your mailbox is stored on your computer, providing you with quick access to your information regardless of changing connection types.

The information in your local mailbox is frequently synchronized with the Exchange server. If your connection to the Exchange server is interrupted, you can continue to work with your information. When a connection is restored, Outlook automatically synchronizes changes. The folders and items are once again identical.

There is no need to switch to offline — you can keep working when a connection isn't available. You don't have to keep trying to reconnect to the server — Outlook 2003 does that automatically. Cached Exchange Mode also frees you from having to set up Send/Receive groups, picking folders you want available offline and keeping those folders synchronized.

Bullet Share information     In the Contacts, Tasks, Notes, and Journal panes in the Navigation Pane, you can use the Share My links to quickly share your folder or the Open Shared links to open another person's shared folder.
Bullet Exchange Server access through the Internet (RPC over HTTP)     Outlook can now connect to a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 through the Internet without the need to use slow and sometimes unavailable virtual private network (VPN) connections. This feature allows you to remotely access your Exchange Server 2003 account from the Internet when you are working outside your organization’s firewall without any special connections or hardware, such as smart cards and security tokens.

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Extending Outlook

Bullet Unique signature per account     Use a different default e-mail signature for each e-mail account.
Bullet New Data File Type (.pst)     Outlook introduces a new file format for Personal Folders files (.pst) that offers greater storage capacity for items and folders and supports multilingual Unicode data. A file created with the new Outlook Personal Folders file (.pst) format is not compatible with earlier versions of Outlook. For compatibility with earlier versions of Outlook, create a file using the Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders file (.pst) format. Outlook 2003 can view and create files of either type.
Bullet Unicode Support     Outlook supports the Unicode text encoding standard, which allows Outlook to display text correctly, no matter what language it's written in, provided the operating system supports the characters specific to that language.
Bullet Integration with Windows SharePoint Services     View a Windows SharePoint Services event list next to your Calendar and drag events from the Windows SharePoint Services event list to your Calendar. You can also view Windows SharePoint Services contact lists from within Outlook and copy and link these to your Contacts. If you have access to a SharePoint Portal Server site, you can store a central calendar or contacts list on the server, for easy sharing of information.
Bullet Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager add-in     Create and manage business contacts, accounts, and sales opportunities in one location — Outlook, using the Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager add-in that comes with Office 2003. Related information, such as attachments, pictures, business notes, and product information, can be stored in your Outlook contacts — making it easy to integrate business contact information with appointments, tasks, reminders, and other Office programs, such as Excel.
Bullet POP enhancements     Download speed has been significantly increased, and you now get detailed progress information.
Bullet Support for ink devices     Quickly provide input by adding your own handwriting to Office documents on a Tablet PC as you would using a pen and a printout.
Bullet Research task pane     The new Research task pane offers a wide variety of reference information and expanded resources if you have an Internet connection. You can conduct research on topics using an encyclopedia, Web search, or by accessing third-party content.
Bullet Improvements when using an East Asian version of Outlook     If you are using an East Asian version of Outlook, when you right-click a name and then click Add To Contact As, a list of first and last name character combinations is displayed. This allows you to pick the correct combination instead of cutting and pasting the characters into the appropriate first and last name fields.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2003