Outlook E-book [Ultimate Guide] | Outlook training

This Outlook ebook has been brought to you by SoftwareKeep to help you learn more about the leading email and personal time management software.

This Outlook ebook has been brought to you by SoftwareKeep. Our goal is to help you learn more about Microsoft’s leading email and personal time management software, Outlook.

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Outlook E-book


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Outlook?
  3. How to Set Up Outlook
  4. How to Import and Export Contacts in Outlook
    1. Import Contacts Into Outlook
    2. Export Contacts From Outlook
  5. How to Manage Contacts in Outlook
    1. Add a New Contact
    2. Add Contact to Favorites
    3. View and Edit Contact Information
    4. Delete a Contact
  6. How to Add a Professional Outlook Signature
    1. How to Create a New Email Signature
    2. How to Customize your Email Signature
  7. How to Write and Send Emails in Outlook
  8. How to Send Attachments in Outlook
  9. How to Use Calendars in Outlook
    1. How to Add Calendar Items
    2. How to Import a Calendar
    3. How to Search for Calendar Items
  10. How to Collaborate in Outlook
    1. How to Open or Attach a File in Outlook
    2. OneDrive
    3. Meetings
  11. How to Schedule Meetings in Outlook
  12. How to Create Tasks and To-Do Lists in Outlook
  13. How to Create Filters in Outlook
  14. How to Create Categories, Flags, and Colors in Outlook
    1. How to Assign a Category to an Email
    2. How to Create Color Categories
    3. How to Create Flags
  15. How to Use Reminders in Outlook
    1. How to Set a Reminder for Messages
    2. How to Set a Reminder for Tasks
    3. How to Dismiss Reminders From Past Events
  16. How to Ignore Conversations in Outlook
  17. How to Clean your Outlook Inbox
  18. How to Turn Off Auto Archive in Outlook
  19. How to Manage Rules in Outlook
    1. Create a Rule
    2. Create Rules Using the Rules Wizard
    3. Run Rules Manually
    4. Delete a Rule
  20. How to Set “Out of Office” in Outlook
  21. How to Schedule an Email in Outlook
  22. How to Block a Sender in Outlook
  23. How to Troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook Mobile Issues
    1. Outlook App is Crashing
    2. Can’t Sign in to the Outlook App
    3. Can’t Install the Outlook App
    4. Contacts and Calendar Won’t Sync


Do you want to learn everything you need to know to become an Outlook power user? This e-book goes into detail about operating Microsoft’s email and personal management suite, whether you work alone or in a team.

You’ll be learning about the foundations of Outlook and how to perform basic tasks you’ll need in your day-to-day life. Later on in the ebook, we touch on some advanced features and troubleshooting guides as well.

If you have any questions after reading our e-book, feel free to contact us at SoftwareKeep for further assistance.

What is Outlook?

Microsoft Outlook is an application for managing your personal information and schedule. Although it's mainly known and used for its emailing capabilities, it also includes features such as a calendar, journal, notes, contact management, task management, as well as web browsing.

Outlook is part of the broader Microsoft Office product family but can be purchased as a stand-alone program as well. Outlook pairs up well with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server, which tends to the needs of teams and organizations who share inboxes, calendars, or other data.

With over a million active monthly users, Outlook is one of the leading email clients and personal management apps all around the globe.

How to Set Up Outlook

To set up Outlook, you’ll have to add an email account. There are various different types of email accounts you can add to Outlook, including Microsoft 365, Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, and Exchange accounts.

Please note that some third-party email providers, such as Gmail, and iCloud, require you to change settings on their websites before you can add your account(s) to Outlook. With this, you can get assistance from the provider itself.

  1. Open Outlook, then select Add Account from the File menu.
  2. Depending on your version of Outlook, follow the instructions below:
    1. In Outlook for Microsoft 365 and Outlook 2016: Enter your email address and click Connect.
    2. In Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010: Enter your name, email address, and password, then click Next.
  3. You might be prompted to enter your password again. Afterward, click on OkFinish to complete the setup process. 

How to Import and Export Contacts in Outlook

Import Contacts Into Outlook

Importing contacts can be time-consuming, but it is an important part of being organized. Let's look at how to actually import those contacts and get you on the road to living in the cloud.

  1. Create an Excel document with a list of contacts you want to import into Outlook. Save this document as a .csv (stands for comma-separated values) by heading to FileSave as, and select (*.csv) from the format drop-down menu.
  2. Open Outlook. To import your list of contacts, go to FileOpen & ExportImport/Export. Here, select Import from another program or file and click Next to proceed.
  3. Select Comma Separated Values, then click on the Browse button. Locate your .csv file and select it. Now, you can choose how you want Outlook to handle duplicate contacts:
    1. Replace duplicates with items imported
    2. Allow duplicates to be created
    3. Do not import duplicate items
  4. In the Import a File box, select Contacts. To close the wizard, click on the Finish button. You’ll be able to view your imported contacts by selecting People in Outlook.

Export Contacts From Outlook

Exporting your list of contacts is a way to easily view your contacts on whatever computer you come across. The process is easy and will allow for quick access to your contacts.

  1. Open Outlook. To import your list of contacts, go to FileOpen & ExportImport/Export. Here, click on Export to a file.
  2. Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next to proceed.
  3. Select Contacts under the email account from which you want to export contacts.
  4. Click on Browse, and navigate to where you want to save your .pst file with contacts. Type in a file name and click OK.
  5. To close the wizard, click on Finish.
  6. If you wish to set a password to protect your contacts, type it in the Password and Verify Password boxes, once more to confirm, then click OK.
    • If you'd like to bypass setting a password, leave the password boxes blank and select OK.

How to Manage Contacts in Outlook

Add a New Contact

This guide focuses on adding a new contact from scratch. There are other ways to add contacts to your Outlook accounts, such as adding from someone’s profile card or company directory, if applicable.

  1. Sign in to your Outlook account on the web.
  2. Select the People icon at the bottom of the navigation pane. This will open the People page. In the toolbar, select New contact.
  3. Enter any needed details for the contact. Select the Add more option to add extra information, such as a contact's address or birthday.
  4. Click on Create to add the new contact to your list.

Add Contact to Favorites

For easy access, you can add contacts to your Favorites list. To add someone to your favorites, just select the contact, and then select Add to favorites on the toolbar.

Favorite contacts with an email address will show up in the navigation pane in Mail, allowing you to see all their email addresses in one place. View and Edit Contact Information

  1. On the People page, select the contact in the middle pane to see or edit information about them. What you see here is a version of the profile card, meaning that the tabs and sections you see may vary from contact to contact.
    1. Files: See recent files that the contact has shared with you.
    2. Email: See recent email messages and attachments between you and the contact.
    3. LinkedIn: If the contact has a public LinkedIn profile, you'll see LinkedIn information here.
  2. To edit a contact, click on the Edit contact button next to Contact Information, or select Edit in the toolbar.

Delete a Contact

  1. Select one or multiple contacts, and then click on Delete.
  2. Click Delete again to confirm the action.

How to Add a Professional Outlook Signature

Signing your name to an email is important when trying to remain professional in the work environment. In order to do this, there are just a few simple steps to follow. It’s very easy to customize it yourself in various ways.

How to Create a New Email Signature

  1. Open Outlook and hit New Emails to compose a new message.
  2. Head to the signature menu and select Signatures to open the Signature options.
  3. Since you’re creating a new signature, click New. You’ll then type in the desired name to be used as your signature at the end of your emails. Once you enter it, press Ok.

How to Customize your Email Signature

To customize your email signature even further, just insert your signature, then view all the different format options available to you.

Select your favorite and click Ok. To use the email you just made, click “New Email” and it should pop right up ready to be featured in the next email you create and send.

How to Write and Send Emails in Outlook

Using Outlook is very similar to using any online email platform. However, it helps you be more efficient to get familiar with all the steps on how to use it to write and send emails.

  1. Start by selecting the New Email option on the Home screen to start setting up a new message.
  2. Click in the text field named To, Bcc, or Cc and enter an email address or the name of a contact.
  3. Next, click into the Subject box and enter the subject of your message. Your recipient will see this first when they receive a notification about your email.
  4. In order to type your message, click on the body of the email, and begin typing. Outlook supplies you with plenty of formatting options, so don’t shy away from utilizing them.
  5. After composing your message, click on Send.

How to Send Attachments in Outlook

Sending a file with your email can be accomplished very easily by adding an attachment to your email. Here are the steps in order to do so.

  1. Open Outlook, then navigate to Home and then select New Email.
  2. If you would like to send a file with an existing email, then you can do so by selecting Reply, Reply All, or Forward.
  3. Navigate to Home and then select Attach File. You will see several options to choose from:
    1. Browse this PC: Search your files and select one from your local computer.
    2. Recent Items: browse the list of files that you have recently worked with and select a file from that list. These files can exist either in internal network locations, Group files, or they could be saved on a local computer.
    3. Outlook Item: Your email can be attached as a text message or an attachment.
    4. Calendar: You can insert a calendar into your email. This calendar can even include specific date ranges and other details.
    5. Business Card: This allows you to attach an electronic business card to your message.
    6. Browse Web Locations: You can select files from places that you have accessed earlier, such as SharePoint sites, Group Files, or OneDrive.
    7. Signature: You can add your signature to the end of your message. 
  4. In order to select an attachment, click on Attach Item, and then browse for your file. Keep the following things in mind:
    1. The size of an attached file and its name will be shown if you hover your cursor above it. Use this to locate your targeted file.
    2. In order to remove an attached file, select the down arrow, and then select Remove Attachment in the drop-down list shown.

How to Use Calendars in Outlook

The Outlook calendar allows you to keep track of upcoming events, both personal and business-wise. Schedule meetings, appointments, and other events with ease, then invite your contacts to tag along.

How to Add Calendar Items

  1. Open Outlook, then stay on the Home tab. Click on the New Items group, then select one of the following options:
    1. Appointment
    2. Meeting
    3. All Day Event
    4. Skype Meeting
    5. More Items
  2. Fill out all the necessary information, such as the subject field, location, start and end time, and an event description.
  3. Once you’ve filled in all the required information, click on Save & Close. The event will now show up in your calendar.

How to Import a Calendar

You and others can use the Outlook calendar without any worries of losing already scheduled events. Just import another calendar that you used previously into Outlook by following the steps below.

  1. In Outlook, click FileOpen & Export. From here, you will receive a dialogue box and you will have to choose the type of file you want to be imported.
  2. Select either a iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar (.vcs) file and import it into Outlook. All of the items contained within the external calendar will automatically be added to your Outlook calendar.

How to Search for Calendar Items

When life gets busy, your schedules begin to fill up fast. It's a great effort to log each event into your calendar. However, as time goes by, it’s easy to forget when and where certain things are.

  1. When you select a calendar, type a keyword in the search box. This will show you a list of your search results highlighted in yellow.
    • To narrow down your search, try typing in multiple keywords at a time.
  2. If you have received more than 30 items you can scroll down to the bottom of the list and click “More to see”, which will load additional results.
  3. Another way that you can narrow down your search is to include AND, OR, or NOT while you’re searching. Each of these words has a different function. Their functions can help you when searching through your calendar.
    • Note is that AND, OR, and NOT must be capitalized. Make sure that you do not use quotation marks when typing them.

How to Collaborate in Outlook

Collaborating on Outlook is one of the most efficient ways to work on documents with others. This section will walk you through the steps of how to collaborate in Outlook.

How to Open or Attach a File in Outlook

To begin collaborating on a single document, you must first attach a document within an email on Outlook and include everyone you are working with.

Make sure the attachment is uploaded to OneDrive before you start working and send it to everyone who is working on the document. Alternatively, if you have been sent an email with an attachment from anyone you are collaborating with, open the attachment to begin working.


The attachment must be stored within OneDrive in order for everyone involved to see the file. In order to figure out whether or not the attachment is already stored on OneDrive, simply make sure that the attachment has a cloud icon on it. If it does not, you will have the option to store it to OneDrive and work on it from there.


In order to collaborate properly on the attachment with others, you can also set up and attend meetings with other members. Outlook also has the option to hold meetings through Skype and let you work on the document as a team, take meeting notes on the same document, and communicate with ease.

How to Schedule Meetings in Outlook

It’s never been easier to have a meeting than it is in Outlook. You set up the meeting, and a few clicks will direct your team members to the video conference. Outlook directly links to Skype as well for even more meeting tools. 

  1. Click on the New Items button under the Home tab in Outlook. 
  2. From the drop-down menu, select Meeting. In the Meeting window, you need to select Join Skype Meeting.
  3. Add any desired details, such as the Subject and the Location of the meeting. 
  4. Invite people to the meeting by entering their contact information.

With Outlook, you can check when your invitees are free with the Scheduling tab. This tool will allow you to see when’s the best time to hold your meeting.

Once you pick the perfect time, send the invitation to your team members, and begin working together. 

How to Create Tasks and To-Do Lists in Outlook

When using Outlook, creating tasks and to-do lists is made easy. Listing out your errands or goals for the day makes it possible to see everything you need to complete. It helps you in the process of taking the appropriate steps to complete tasks and manage your own time.

  1. Select New ItemsTask, or simply press the Ctrl + Shift + K keyboard shortcut.
  2. In the Subject box, enter a name for the task. We recommend you keep the task name short and expand on details in the description box instead.
  3. If there’s a fixed start or deadline date, set the Start date and/or Due date. You can also set a reminder if desired.
  4. If required, set the task’s priority higher or lower by using the Priority selection.
  5. When you’re done setting up the task, click on TaskSave & Close.

How to Create Filters in Outlook

No matter how well-organized your mailbox is, sometimes it's impossible to scroll through hundreds of emails just to find the one you need. If you need to quickly find an email, the best tool for the job is the search with filters function. 

  1. First, click on the Search bar, which will be above the conversations list.
  2. Type the subject, addresses, or phrases that are contained in the email you want to find.
  3. Either widen or narrow your search by selecting your search options: All Mailboxes, Current Mailbox, Current Folder, Subfolder, or All Outlook Items.
  4. Select the criteria which will help narrow your search in the Refine section. The categories can be summarized as below:
    1. From: Narrow to emails from a specific person.
    2. Subject: Only results based on the subject are shown.
    3. Has attachments: Only results that have attachments are shown.
    4. Categorized: Only results that fall into a specific category are shown.
    5. This week: Narrow down results based on the time of receipt. There are also other criteria such as Today, Yesterday, This Week, Last Week, This Month, Last Month, This Year, or Last Year.
    6. Sent to: Only shows messages that were either sent to you, not sent directly to you, or sent to another recipient.
    7. Unread: Only unread results are shown.
    8. Flagged: Only messages flagged by you are shown.
    9. Important: Only messages marked as important are shown.
    10. More: This will open up some more advanced criteria, such as Cc and sensitivity.
  5. After you have selected the criteria, choose Recent Searches to run the search again. Keep in mind that only the queries are saved, not the results.

How to Create Categories, Flags, and Colors in Outlook

Outlook allows you to create your own unique categories such as finances, personal, business, etc. With Outlook, you are able to stay up to date and organized in every aspect of your life.

How to Assign a Category to an Email

  1. Right-click a message you want to sort into a category and select Categorize from the context menu.
  2. Create or select a category to put the email in. You can put an item in more than one category, too.

How to Create Color Categories

At first, the categories on Outlook are named with generic colors, displayed in table view such as your inbox. By giving each category a different name and color, you make it easy to organize and identify all the information you have.

  1. In Outlook, navigate to HomeCategorizeAll Categories.
  2. Select Color Category and then click on Rename.
  3. Type in a suitable title for the selected category. If you wish to change the color of the category, click on the Color drop-down.
  4. Click the OK button when you’re finished.

How to Create Flags

how to create flags in outlook
Not only can you categorize all of your emails, but you can set flags for certain events, notes, and anything else you might need reminding of.

  1. Select the email you want to flag. Note that Follow Up flags are used for actionable items only.
  2. Click on the Flag icon. It should turn red, and a follow-up message will appear in the header of the email.
  3. To remove the flag, right-click on the email and select Follow UpMark Complete from the drop-down menu.

How to Use Reminders in Outlook

Reminders are a more advanced version of flags. Outlook will automatically send pop-ups of reminders you set in your calendar to let you know when your scheduled events are coming up.

How to Set a Reminder for Messages

  1. Go to your message list.
  2. Select the message you want to be reminded of.
  3. From the toolbar at the top of the screen, click Follow UpAdd Reminder.
  4. You can add information to your reminders such as time, date, and description.
  5. When you’re done setting up the reminder, select OK.
  6. An alarm icon will appear on the message — this is telling you the reminder has been successfully sent.
  7. If you need to change the time of your reminder, click on Follow UpReminder, then edit any of the details. Click OK to save the changes.

How to Set a Reminder for Tasks

  1. Go to the bottom of the screen and choose Tasks. You can also navigate to HomeTo-Do List to view tasks.
  2. Select the task on the list that you want to be reminded of.
  3. Choose the task and a time frame to meet your deadline in the Follow Up group. Click OK to save the reminder.
  4. If you want to remove a task reminder, go to the Manage Task group and select Remove From List.

How to Dismiss Reminders From Past Events

  1. Choose FileOptionsAdvanced.
  2. In the Reminders section, make sure that Automatically dismiss reminders for past events is selected.

How to Ignore Conversations in Outlook

Conversations are a great way to organize your emails. These are emails that have been grouped by subjects and are organized chronologically. Sometimes these conversations can pile up and become irrelevant, creating clutter in your mailbox.

If this happens, you can simply ignore/mute any conversation that is no longer related to you. 

  1. Select the conversation you wish to ignore or any email in the thread.
  2. Click on Ignore.
  3. Select Ignore conversation to finish the process.
    • If it does not appear there, don’t panic. The box will not appear if you have previously checked the Don’t show this message again box, so simply uncheck it.
  4. To continue receiving updates on a conversation you previously muted, just uncheck the box.

How to Clean your Outlook Inbox

If left unattended, old messages that are no longer relevant in your life will clutter your inbox. It’s recommended to clean your inbox at least once every month to avoid this from happening.

  1. First, choose a conversation that you want to clean up. Make sure to double-check that the conversation doesn’t contain any important information that you want to keep.
  2. Click on Clean UpClean Up Conversation.
  3. Finally, select Clean Up again when the pop-up box appears on your screen.

How to Turn Off Auto Archive in Outlook

Archiving emails is important to stay credible and organized. However, Outlook automatically archives your files and attempts to reduce the file size by removing old emails and putting them in a separate file. You should turn this off as soon as possible to avoid losing crucial information.

  1. Open Outlook then navigate to FileOptionsAdvanced.

  2. Under the AutoArchive section, click AutoArchive Settings.

  3. Make sure that the Run AutoArchive every n days box is unchecked. 
This will ensure that the automatic archival doesn’t happen in your email inbox.

How to Manage Rules in Outlook

Create a Rule

  1. Right-click on any message in your inbox, or select an email folder and click on Rules.
  2. Select an option that suits you. Note that Outlook always suggests creating a rule based on the recipient and sender. To get more options, select Create Rule.
  3. In the Create Rule dialog box that opens, select one or more conditions from the "When I get email with all of the selected conditions," section.
  4. Under the "Do the following,” section, you have the options to:
    1. Set a rule to move a message to a folder
    2. Play a selected sound
    3. Display in the new Item Alert Window
  5. Click OK to save your rule.

Create Rules Using the Rules Wizard

Typically, there are three rules you can create using the Rules Wizard.

  • Stay Organized Rule: This rule helps to filter and follow-up messages.
  • Stay up-to-date Rule: This rule gives you a notification if a message fits in specific criteria.
  • Custom Rules: These are rules created without a template.

To create a rule using the Rules Wizard in Outlook, do the following:

  1. Go to the last page of the Rules Wizard and give your rule a name.
  2. If you want to apply the rule on the messages you've already received, checkmark Run this rule now on messages already in "Inbox."
  3. Note that by default, the rule is always checked. You can uncheck the box if you don't want the rule to be applied. 
  4. Click Finish to save and turn on the rule.

Run Rules Manually

  1. From the File tab, select Manage Rules & Alerts.
  2. Next, from the E-mail Rules tab, select Run Rules now.
  3. In the Run Rules Now dialog box, under the Select rules to run section, choose the rules you want to run.
  4. In the Run in Folder box, you can select a different folder by choosing Browse, selecting the folder and clicking OK.
  5. Accept the default settings of all messages in the Apply rules to list. You can change to read on unread messages as well.
  6. Finally, click on the Run Now button.

Delete a Rule

Rules are always created to make work and organization easy. However, if the rule no longer makes sense, it's worth deleting it to keep your slate organized.

To delete a rule in Outlook, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the File tab, and select Manage Rules & Alerts.
  2. In the Rules & Alerts dialog box, switch to the Email Rules tab and select the rule you want to delete.
  3. Click on the Delete button, and click OK.

How to Set “Out of Office” in Outlook

Out of Office sends an automatic reply to incoming emails while you're away from your computer for an extended period of time. This way, people will know when to contact you or why you aren't responding to messages.

  1. Open Outlook, and click on FileAutomatic Replies (Out of Office).
    • If you don’t see this option, you aren’t logged in with an Exchange account.
  2. Select the Send automatic replies option.
  3. Set a date range for your automated replies by checking the Only send during this time range: box. Otherwise, you’ll have to turn them off manually.
  4. Type your automatic replies into the Inside My Organization and Outside My Organization tabs. You can leave one of the tabs empty if you don’t want to send automated messages to people in or out of your organization.
    • Note: To avoid replying to junk, it’s recommended to choose My contacts only.
  5. Click the OK button to save your settings.

How to Schedule an Email in Outlook

Sometimes you don’t want to send messages right away. To schedule or delay an email, use the following steps.

  1. Compose your message. Before sending it as an email, select the More options arrow from the Tags group in the Ribbon. 
  2. Under Delivery options, click on the Do not deliver before check box. Now, you can set the delivery date and time manually.
  3. Click Close.
  4. Continue writing your message, or hit Send. Outlook will automatically store this email and deliver it to the recipients on the date and time you set.

How to Block a Sender in Outlook

Do you want to stop receiving messages from someone? You can easily add them to your Block List, preventing them from reaching you via Outlook. Emails from blocked senders will automatically be moved to the Junk mailbox, keeping your focused inboxes clean.

  1. In the message list, select any message from the sender whom you want to block.
  2. In the Outlook menu bar, select MessageJunk MailBlock Sender.
  3. Outlook automatically stores the sender's email address and adds it to your blocked senders list. Note that senders are blocked on a per-account basis, meaning that only the account you’re currently using will be affected.

How to Troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook Mobile Issues

There are a few main issues people run into on Outlook Mobile. We will go over some of the most common ones and the steps necessary to fix them.

Outlook App is Crashing

  1. If the Outlook app crashes every time you open it, attempt to clear the browser cache on your device:
    1. How to clear browser cache on Android (Google)
    2. How to clear browser cache on iOS (Apple)
  2. After completely clearing your browser cache, remove the Outlook app from your device and reinstall it. 

Can’t Sign in to the Outlook App

  • Check your email address and password to make sure you’re entering your credentials correctly. Try to reset your password if necessary.
  • Make sure your email account is supported. You can only add accounts to Outlook from Exchange Online, Exchange Server, Office 365, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and iCloud.
  • If you’re not sure about what type of email you have, check with your email provider, Internet service provider (ISP), or your workplace support team.
  • If you can’t sign in to an account you’ve already created, remove your account and add it to the Outlook app again.

Can’t Install the Outlook App

There are a few things you must do in order to install the Outlook mobile app on your device.

  • You must have a mobile device that meets the requirements of the application to be installed. You can check these requirements on the install page in the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • You must have enough available storage space to fit and hold the size of the Outlook app.
  • A working internet connection such as Wi-Fi or mobile data is required to download the Outlook app.

Contacts and Calendar Won’t Sync

Your contacts and calendar will not sync if you set up your email as a POP or IMAP account. In this case, you will have to create an Exchange ActiveSync account. You must also check to make sure your email app has permission to access your calendar and contacts.

If your email is working properly on a computer, the issue is most likely caused by your email app. If the problem is your app, you will have to contact their support team. For example, if you are having issues with the iOS mail app, contact Apple support to evaluate and fix the problem.

For easier access and better management of your contacts and calendars, it’s recommended to download and install the Outlook Mobile app.