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Outlook- A Fresh Take on an Old Standby

The program Outlook has been around for a long time, in name anyway. My earliest memories of Outlook are from the early to mid-2000s; back then, if you clicked on someone’s hyperlinked email address, the default program Outlook would open automatically as you grumpily tried to get it to close, and then you copied the email address into an email program that people actually used. And, for me anyway, that was what Outlook was for.

Outlook has grown up a lot since then, and after going through quite an evolutionary process (Hotmail, MSN, Live, etc.) it is basically the face of Microsoft now. You would never recognize it now as that old, irritating default email program. Outlook has really come into its own, with a facelift and functionality that belongs in the 21st century.


Outlook Connects All of Your Microsoft Programs

Arguably the best feature of the new, improved Outlook is the way it unifies all of the standard Microsoft programs we have come to rely on, and how it makes it easy to access and edit our documents from anywhere. A few of the essential programs that Outlook connects to include: Outlook email, of course (which includes Hotmail, MSN and Live email addresses), Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, Skype, and my personal favorite, OneDrive. In case you didn’t know, OneDrive is a cloud based storage application, and it is my absolute favorite thing about my Windows 8 PC, which comes equipped with Outlook automatically. As long as you are on a device with Outlook, you have access to all of your documents in one place, and you don’t have to worry about emailing them to yourself just to access them from your home computer. I think it’s even easier to use than Google Drive, for what it’s worth.

One of my favorite tools with OneDrive in Outlook is the ability to edit documents online in Word, Excel or Powerpoint Online and have them save to the cloud storage automatically. This makes it simple to get your work done from anywhere, even on your mobile devices.

Install Outlook for Free on All of Your Devices

Much of Outlook’s newfound success can be attributed to its accessibility. It is a standard application on newer Windows PCs, and can also be downloaded for free to smartphones and tablets on Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms. Installing Outlook to all of your devices really streamlines and organizes your life, especially if you find yourself needing to share documents with colleagues often and are always on the go. Outlook has also streamlined its email interface, making it much cleaner and self-regulating. It’s easier than ever to tell Outlook which messages to allow, and which ones to keep out of your inbox. You can even cancel your subscription from email mailing lists with one click.

In short, Outlook has come a long way from its early days. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but I have integrated Outlook and its related Microsoft apps into my life now, and it has only benefitted my productivity and organization. I suggest you give it a second chance as well.

Remember when back in the late nineties, early two thousands we all used to have hotmail accounts?

I remember being 9 years old in 1999, living in Chile coming from a pretty accommodated family, having internet for the first time.
It was a dial-up connection, with a computer that didn’t have more than a couple of megabytes of storage at the most, and Netscape was the browser to use, instead of Explorer.
It’s really funny to think about that now, typing from a computer with over 250 gigabytes of storage.
I remember my friend and I used to go to this website called Starmedia, which had chatrooms, of every kind. Now remember, we were about nine or ten years old, so we mostly got in there to joke around and learn new things from other people. It was a joke. But for some reason, the feeling of communicating through the internet became such an entertainment to us. It was borderline addiction, to be able to chat it up with someone random from another part of the world. Not see who they were, and not know anything about them, yet, share an opinion about a movie that had just come out, or a video game that we were playing.

Later on, when having an email was becoming a thing, hotmail was the rage at that time. All of my friends from school had hotmail too. We would email dumb silly things. The HTML tool had just been developed, which made things a lot easier when wanting to change fonts, colors, or even sizes to our meaningless emails.

If we really think about it, my generation was probably the first member of any family at that time that started dealing with technology, discovering how to email, how to use a computer, and communicating through the internet. Yes, my dad and mom knew how to type, and use excel, and tables to organize things and budget. But I learned how to communicate and create, to be creative, and fun, and exciting. I learned other things that made my user experience easier. Learning shortcuts, and ways how to control the computer, etc. And probably Hotmail and it’s services was a big part of my learning experience, and I bet that others on the millennial/Generation Y group, could testify of the same thing. Hotmail was there in our beginnings, and connected us in a simple, very spammy, and way way small-storage-space way.


Have you ever wondered how to email a bunch of people the same thing and have it personalized to each recipient? Do you ever wonder how big companies or stores send you emails with their stuff, and it’s the same exact thing that they send to millions of people, yet it says “Hello Andrew X” ?


Microsoft Outlook, as well as many other programs I’m sure, can do that for you.

You can have as many contacts as you want, and have one basic email you want to send, and personalize it to whatever you want, for as many people as you want. This process is called e-mail merge, and to do it, you’ll need an excel file with names, and emails, and maybe any other info, and a word document where the actual email is typed and ready to be sent.

In Microsoft Word, you can go to the tools section and click on start email merge. It will ask you to place the different “fields” in your word document. It will show like this:  <field 1>, <field 2>, etc. You place them wherever you want to match the personalized item or word, with each field.

So for example, I want to have the first match field to be the first name of every person in my contact list, so my email will show like this:

Dear <field 1>,

That would mean that field one would be everyone’s name. And so on and on, you can have specific fields for other things like dates, age, etc.

In the excel sheet you need to have the information of those you want to send the info to. And give each column a title like : First name, Last Name, e-mail, etc. You then go to the word document, and click on “Merge fields” and it will ask you to seek the info from where, that’s when you link your excel sheet to your word, and then merge the fields… Field 1 means first name, field 2 means last name, and so on.

Once the fields are merged, you click on finish, merge and send, and BAM. Every single email you sent was exactly the same except for the customized fields you matched, giving a personalized touch to a very massive attempt of communication.

Depending on your computer and internet’s speed and also in the amount of people you are sending your email to, your merge can take from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes. If you have a fast and efficient computer, the merge shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds, and if it takes longer, you can still work on your computer doing something else while the emails are being sent.

Make sure you are 100% clear that there are no mistakes in your email, or else, hundreds and hundreds of emails will be sent to those in your excel sheet with a mistaken personalized message.

As a young kid, I was never really interested in Microsoft Outlook, but who was? (At least as a kid). As a matter of fact, I always got upset at myself whenever I clicked by mistake the Microsoft Outlook icon on the quick-start little menu that windows used to have in the earlier versions of their operating system. You know, those three or four little icons that were on the start bar, right beside the start button? Outlook Functionality


Yeah, those. The microsoft outlook was right beside the start button in my computer since my dad used outlook for his work, and so, I mistakenly clicked on that icon A LOT. I always thought Outlook was boring stuff, and something I should never really get into ever.

Once I became a real adult, and started working at my current job, loving life and all that is good because I was out of school, I learned that Microsoft Outlook is quite the tool for a working person, and anyone that is busy and has to multitask and keep things organized for that matter. It’s actually kind of a life saving tool for the multitasker and working person during this era.

I use my Outlook for not only emailing, but also storing contacts, keeping a full schedule with the things I have to do daily all organized neatly. I can set appointments and invite others to join in the appointments for a meeting, or some sort of activity or gathering. I can organize my emails by folders and categories. I can get alarms set for appointments coming up, set up my own signature with my email, or an automated reply in case I’m not checking my email for a while, email merges, etc. And this is without mentioning all the editing you can do within the text of the email: size, font, color, etc.

You are also capable of using most of the other Microsoft programs like Microsoft Word, or Excel, or even Powerpoint, and link your work or files between those programs and Microsoft Outlook. For example, when I do e-mail merges (merges mean sending the same email to different people, but having their name customized at the beginning) I do everything through Microsoft Word and Excel, and then send it all, through Microsoft Outlook’s tools included in Microsoft Word. It saves you so much time, and it’s quite simple to learn and use.

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