Use instant messaging services with Outlook

Microsoft Outlook 2010 can be used with several instant messaging services. You can tell if your contacts are available for a real-time online chat, audio and video conferencing, or file sharing.

 Note    Online status is available for any person whose instant messaging e-mail address that you have added to your instant messaging contact list. In addition, online status is shown for people using Microsoft Lync, regardless of whether they are on your instant messaging contact list.

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How can I tell if my contacts are available?

A visual representation Button image Button Image Button Image of your contacts' availability, known as online presence or status, indicates if a person is online and available for a real-time conversation.

These indicators appear for anyone in your Outlook contacts who has an instant messaging address in the IM address text box.

Button image Available

Button Image Busy

Button Image Away

When you open a message in Outlook 2010, or when it appears in the Reading Pane, the online status of a contact is shown:

  • next to the sender's name
  • next to each name on the To and Cc lines
  • in Quick Contacts

 Note    The status of people using Lync appears regardless of whether they are on your contact list.

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Send an instant message

You can send an instant message to any person whose online status indicates anything except Offline.

  1. Next to the person's name, click the online status indicator.
  2. On the contact card, on the click the Instant Message icon, as represented by a speech bubble.
  3. Type your message in the lower section of the window, and then press Enter to send.

If you have an e-mail message open, you can reply with an instant message to the sender or the sender and all recipients of the message. On the Message tab, in the Actions group, click More Actions. On the drop-down list, click Reply with IM or Reply All with IM.

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Turn online status on or off in Outlook

You control how your online status is displayed to other people. For example, if you are unavailable, you can change your online status to Button Image Busy.

  1. Click the File tab to open the Backstage view, and then click Options.
  2. On the Contacts tab, under Contacts Index, select or uncheck the Display online status next to name check box.
  3. Click OK.

Lync can also be connected to an organization's phone system, letting you get on-screen alerts of incoming calls and reroute calls to another phone. When you are on the phone, your online status can automatically be changed to alert others that you are not available.

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Instant messaging services compatible with Outlook

Outlook can be used with several instant messaging services, such as Microsoft Skype and Lync. With these services, you can communicate with your contacts in real time as you would during an in-person conversation. Additional collaborative features are included with each service also.

  • Microsoft Skype    The replacement for Windows Messenger, you can use Skype to chat online via text, voice or video — in real time — with your friends, family, or colleagues. In some situations, you can also communicate with people using other instant messaging services.
  • Microsoft Lync     The replacement for Office Communicator, Lync is an integrated communications client enabling information workers to communicate in real time. Lync works with Microsoft Office 2010 applications and enterprise telephony infrastructure. In some situations, you can also communicate with people using other instant messaging services, including Outlook.com, and from companies such as Yahoo!

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010