Outlook Tips, Tricks and Useful Features - making the most of your Calendar

Published: 05 October, 2016
Outlook Tips, Tricks and Useful Features - making the most of your Calendar

Using the calendar/diary in Outlook

If you’re anything like me, using email on a day to day basis is now a fundamental and huge part of your daily work routine. We use it for emailing internally, external clients and safely transferring information; some of us may even say we use it too much at times.

Working in the IT team, we often see people using Outlook, but we see them using only the very basics and missing out on some very helpful features that would really help save them time in their daily work.

I’ve written up a few helpful tips below, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, there’s 100s more on top. If this Blog is something that people find useful and is of help, we can start pushing more of these out to you on a regular basis.

How to Access the Calendar

On the bottom left of your screen, click the Calendar button. This will load up a calendar lay out by day, week, or month:

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Viewing the Calendar

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Use the buttons across the top of the screen to choose how to view your calendar. Click between these buttons and notice how your calendar changes the number of days you’re viewing:

Creating New Appointments

Click the new appointment button at the top left of your screen and you’ll get the following screen:

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Subject: This is the subject/main title of the appointment/meeting

Location: Where you’re going to be

Start Time: The Date and time that the appointment will start

End Time: The Date and time that the appointment will finish

All Day Event: Tick this box if the appointment is going to be the full working day

Blank box: This is a details box where you can type information and details about your meeting/appointment


Advanced Appointment Features

There are some advanced features above and beyond the standard details and start and end time of the appointment that can be set via  these buttons:

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Invite Attendees: You can click this button, and then use the global address list to search for someone that you want to invite to the meeting/appointment that you’re setting up. This will send that person an email requesting their attendance

Show as: you can show your time as Free, Busy, Out of the Office or Tentative. This drop down list changes how Outlook see’s your time as being booked

Reminder: Outlook will pop up with a reminder before your appointment is due. For someone like myself, I have a busy working day, and a terrible memory, this is a life saver having a pop up box to tell me I’m due at a meeting, or a piece of work is due. These reminders can be set to pop up at different scheduled times.

Recurrence: If you click this box, it will give you quite a detailed screen of how to setup a recurring appointment (an appointment that will repeat itself over a period of time). In next week’s tip, I will send through more information on how to set this up.

Categorize: Click this drop down box to change the colour category of your appointment, changing the colour that is displayed in your main calendar screen. This is ideal for setting different types of appointments that are obvious to the eye on first glance, eg, Green for in the office, Red for Out of Office, Yellow for Annual Leave. Next week’s tip of the week will give you more detail on how to set these categories and customize them to suit you.

Private: Mark your appointment as private (it could be a dentist or Drs appointment), to hide the details of the appointment from anyone that has permission to view your calendar.

High/Low Importance: In the same way you can with an email, mark an appointment as being high or low importance

Saving and Viewing your Appointment

When you’ve completed all the info you want to complete for the appointment, press Save & Close at the top left of the appointment screen.

Back in your calendar screen, your meeting/appointment has then blocked out that specific period of time:

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Sharing your Calendar with Others

You can share your calendar with other people in the organisation, so they can view your appointments:

  • Open your Calendar
  • Click Share Calendar

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  • Type the person’s name you want to share your calendar with:

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  • If you’d like to request to view that person’s calendar, click Request Permission
  • Press Send
  • An email is then sent to the person you’re sharing your calendar with, letting them know they now have permission. If you’ve requested permission to view theirs, it will also send that request asking them to respond.

Opening someone else’s Calendar

If you have permission to view someone else’s calendar, you can open it by following these steps:

  • Open your calendar
  • Click Open Calendar along the top tool bar
  • Choose, From Address Book

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  • Select the person’s calendar you’d like to open from the global address list and press ok
  • The calendar will them open up alongside yours
  • You can then select the calendars you’ve opened previously from the list on the left. You can open more than 1 calendar at once, which is ideal for organising meetings and checking multiple people’s availability.

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Setting up an Appointment Category

When creating an appointment, you can colour code and categorise them to suit the appointment type.

  • Click to create a new appointment
  • Click the Categorize button
  • Chose the colour category you wish to use
  • When you’ve chosen the category you want to use, save your appointment and see how it appears as that colour in your calendar.

To edit these categories:

  • Click to create a new appointment
  • Click the Categorize button
  • Click All Categories

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  • Use this screen to change the colours and amend the category names to suit your appointment types. An example could be different colours/categories for Annual leave, Patient Visits, Different colours for working in different locations etc.
  • If you share your calendars between team members, I find it’s a good idea for you all to have your categories set the same. That way, you can see the different appointment types at a glance, eg, Yellow means Annual Leave.

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Setting up Recurring Appointments

This feature is brilliant for setting up those appointments, meetings or scheduled events, that occur regularly on the same time each week or month. A good example of this is setting up 1 to 1’s with your staff once a month, once every other Friday, or the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Using the recurrence feature will automatically add these appointments into your calendar, as far through the year as you require. To add a recurring appointment:

  • Click to create a new appointment
  • Click Recurrence

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  • You can then select the frequency of the appointment. Note you can select between Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly. This changes the recurrence patterns you can set. The best way to understand how these work are to have a click through, and setup a couple of test appointments and see how they appear in your calendar.
  • You can also set how long you want the recurrence to run for in the date range at the bottom of the window.

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  • Once you’ve set your recurrence, press ok
  • Save your appointment
  • Your scheduled recurring appointments are then added to your calendar at the frequency you set

Searching your Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got 100s of appointments in your calendar, and finding the one you need quickly is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Using the search tool in Outlook makes finding your emails that much quicker and easier.

Open your calendar and you’ll have a search box in the top right hand corner of your screen:

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Search in this box by typing in a word or phrase for an appointment you’re looking for. The system will again automatically show any emails below that match your search.

Useful searches you can run would be:

  • Organiser of a meeting
  • Attendee of a meeting
  • Title of a meeting
  • Location of a meeting
  • Any attachments within the meeting

Whilst this is only a quick and simple tip, it is one of those that can really make a difference when you’re trying to find an email quickly.

Hopefully this Blog has been useful and you’ve taken some helpful bits from it. Even if you’ve only learnt 1 thing, we hope it’s something that will help you in your daily work.

As always, any questions or queries regards anything related to IT, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the IT Service desk on 01472 256789 and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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Written by: Dave Whitfield

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