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In this introduction

Welcome to Outlook 2003

Why Use Outlook 2003?

What's New in Outlook 2003?

Who Should Read This Book?

How This Book is Organized

Welcome to Outlook 2003

Outlook 2003 is the first major overhaul of Outlook since it was released as Outlook 97. Sure, there have been changes since then. Some of the most notable are there are no longer three separate modes of Outlook: No E-mail, Corporate/Workgroup, and Internet Only. Microsoft has implemented security measures in Outlook that have been described with words as negative as draconian and idiotic as well as words as positive as necessary and smart. Previously marketed largely as a client for Exchange, Outlook has grown into a program capable of standing on its own two feet.

I first started working with Outlook shortly after Outlook 97 was released. Thankfully, Outlook 98 followed shortly on its heels. Since then I've watched Outlook grow and evolve into a first-rate personal information manager and robust capable email client. I think Outlook 2003 is the best version of Outlook yet. As soon I installed the very first beta copy, I fell in love. I hope you enjoy Outlook 2003 as much as I do.

Why Use Outlook 2003?

If you aren't a current user of Outlook 2003 and are considering purchasing it, you might want to know why you should use Outlook 2003. Well, I can't tell you all the ways Outlook can be used to help you, but I can tell you the ways it has helped me. I not only store all of my email in Outlook, I use archive folders to store and file old email. I create tasks for anything major I need to do every week, and I schedule all of my meetings and appointments with Outlook. Since I convinced my company to deploy Outlook as their Exchange client, there have been fewer missed meetings, everyone knows where the corporate contacts directory is located, and due to Exchange Server's collaboration features far fewer documents have been printed, thus wasting much less paper. We store meeting minutes, workgroup tasks, and contacts on our server and access all the items through Outlook.

What's New in Outlook 2003?

Outlook 2003 is the largest rewrite of Outlook since the program was introduced with Outlook 97. The first thing you should be aware of (if you've not already purchased Outlook 2003) is that Office 2003 and Outlook 2003 will run only on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. If you have an older operating system, Outlook 2003 and Office 2003 won't install.

With Outlook 2003, Microsoft endeavored to redefine the mail experience. The user interface enhancements, including the new Reading Pane, enable you to display more messages on screen and more of the current message at any one time. The new Reading Pane was a result of integration between Outlook and Microsoft's eReader technology. By default, the Reading Pane now appears on the right third of the Outlook screen, allowing for display of up to 40% more data (see Figure I.1). Instead of merely viewing a third of a message page in the bottom preview pane, you can view almost an entire page of a message.

Figure I.1. Outlook's new interface including the Reading Pane and Navigation Pane provide quick access to your Outlook data.

In addition to the new Reading Pane, Outlook 2003 offers a new grouped two-line view of messages. One of my complaints about previous versions of Outlook is that grouping messages by the Received criteria grouped them by date and time. That was never very helpful unless you really needed to know which messages were received at 8:11:07 a.m. and which messages were received three seconds later. Outlook 2003 introduces the concepts of arrangements and intelligent grouping. These two concepts are discussed in detail in Chapter 4, “Creating Views and Print Styles.” Groups are predefined based on different criteria for each arrangement. For example, arranging by date shows a group for each day of the current week, a group for last week, last month, two months ago, and so on. Grouping by size aggregates messages into size blocks. You can view small messages, medium-size messages, and large messages. This intelligent grouping gives users at-a-glance visibility of messages through expandable/collapsible groups.

There are also major enhancements in mail handling. Microsoft's philosophy is that you typically do one of three things with your email when you read it: you delete it, reply to it, or wait until later to respond to it. Outlook 2003 simplifies mail handling through a new Quick Flag feature. The Quick Flag column is displayed next to each message in the default view. One click per message flags the message for follow-up at a later date. Along with the Quick Flag feature, Outlook 2003 offers search folders. Three default search folders ship with Outlook 2003: For Follow Up, Unread Mail, and Large Messages. These search folders take the results of a set of search criteria, and operate over all mail folders in your default mailbox store. The For Follow Up search folder displays all mail items in your mailbox store with the Quick Flag set. Search folders work like virtual folders—what you see on the screen is a view just like your default inbox view.

Outlook 2003 includes a new Navigation Pane that replaces the old Outlook Bar. The Navigation Pane enables you to select any type of Outlook item quickly. Clicking on Tasks in the Navigation Pane takes you directly to the Tasks folder and shows you any other Tasks folders in your mailbox. Selecting Mail in the Navigation Pane shows you a folder list with only your mail folders shown.

The new Calendar interface includes an often-requested feature: the ability to view additional calendars in one default view, side by side. If you have permissions on someone else's calendar, a check box can display his calendar next to yours in the default Calendar view. You can display up to 12 calendars in one view, although anything more than four or five can get a bit cluttered.

User interface changes are not the only improvements in Outlook 2003. Past versions of Outlook were very picky when they lost their network connection. If prior versions of Outlook lost their network connectivity, either numerous error messages would pop up or Outlook would freeze completely. Outlook 2003 eliminates this problem. When connected to an Exchange Server, Outlook can work in what is called Cached Exchange mode. With Exchange Server 2003 when a high-speed network connection is present, Outlook runs much like previous versions; that is, headers and message bodies are downloaded as new messages arrive. When Outlook detects a slower connection, such as either a dial-up or a cellular modem connection, only message headers are downloaded. If a user wants to display a message, the entire message body is then downloaded from the server. Outlook's default behavior will be to work against its local cache.

The first time you see Outlook 2003, with its right-side Reading Pane and two-line message view, you might not like it. But give it a chance. I found after two days of using Outlook 2003, I was saving time every time I accessed my email. This book can help you learn about all the new features in Outlook 2003. Anywhere a new feature is discussed; there will be a New to Outlook 2003 icon next to the text. Look for these icons to quickly bring you up to speed on Outlook 2003's new features.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is written for the technically savvy computer user. You don't have to know how to flash your BIOS or install a new network card, but you do need to know how to right-click, save a file, change directories, and maybe even write a simple line of code. If you're new to computers, you can still read this book and learn all about Outlook, but you'll probably need a companion guide to learn the basics of your operating system.

If you've used previous versions of Outlook, this book will explain, in detail, all the changes in this new version of Outlook. Whether you've never used Outlook before or are an Outlook 2002 guru, this is the only Outlook 2003 book you'll ever need.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into five sections. Each section details different uses of Outlook 2003. This book was designed so that you can instantly flip to your desired section and learn about just the topics you're interested in or you can read it from beginning to end, working through each topic in logical progression. The following list gives you an overview of the book's sections:

  • Setting Up and Configuring Outlook— This section contains all the basics that you need to know when working with Outlook. You'll learn the various options for viewing items, working with folders and files, and customizing command bars. You can apply this information throughout all of your day-to-day work with Outlook. At the very beginning of this section, you'll find a chapter that mentions all the new features of Outlook 2003 with cross-references to other chapters that cover the new features in detail.

  • Outlook as a Personal Information Manager— Outlook is designed as an email client and personal information manager. This section includes topics for each type of Outlook folder and item as well as a general introduction to personal information management. You'll learn how to use categories, how to configure Outlook Today, as well as how to find information to configure Outlook to send and receive email. Other chapters in this section show you how you can organize your Outlook items into different folders. Lastly, there is a chapter on security within Outlook.

  • Outlook as the Client for Exchange Server— In this section, you'll learn the specifics of how to use Outlook as an Exchange client. Outlook 2003 is a powerful program on its own, but when paired with Exchange Server, Outlook 2003 is a very powerful productivity and collaboration tool. You'll learn about the new cached Exchange mode, configuring offline access, and using rules, public folders, and remote access. Finally, there is a chapter on the advances made when using Outlook 2003 with the Exchange Server 2003.

  • Programming and Advanced Outlook Topics— Despite the implementation of security features on attachments and the Outlook object model, Outlook programming isn't dead. Custom forms, VBScript, and VBA enable you to customize Outlook to meet the needs of your particular organization. You can develop custom forms, workflow solutions, macros, and use XML to program views. In addition, you'll learn about advanced integration between Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Project.

  • Appendixes— Not all the information covered in this book fits in a logical section. For coverage of some advanced topics, take a look at the appendixes to this book. You'll learn just a little about editing the Windows Registry, be able to browse support resources for Outlook, and learn about Outlook's files, folders, and fields.

Conventions Used in This Book

A number of conventions are used in this book to help you. There are several different typefaces used in the text of this book:

  • Italic— Used when a new term is defined for the first time

  • Monospace— Used for Web and email addresses, folder and file names, and system messages

  • New In This Version Every time the book discusses a feature that's new in Outlook 2003, there will be a New to Outlook 2003 icon in the margin of the page. Look for these icons for a quick primer on new features.

Special Elements

There are several special elements in this book to help you. Tips, notes, cautions, cross references, and troubleshooting notes. Each is used for a different purpose and will guide you in your Outlook journey.


Throughout the text, I've inserted tips to illustrate special features, tricks, and pitfalls to avoid while using Outlook. Many of these tips come directly from problems and solutions I've encountered during my use of Microsoft Outlook 2003.


Notes are included to remind you of items you shouldn't forget while working with Outlook. They often contain slightly more advanced information on a topic or illustrate a different application of a particular technology.


Cautions are included to warn you of potential pitfalls within a particular topic. Most of these cautions are based on problems that are often posted in the Microsoft newsgroups.


Each chapter in this book contains a troubleshooting section. This section is always found near the end of the chapter and illustrates common problems that occur when using Outlook 2003. Many of these topics came directly from questions asked in the Microsoft support newsgroups. In addition to detailing the problem, I provide a detailed solution.


Cross-references are used throughout this book to direct you to other locations that provide additional information about a particular topic. Some cross-references will direct you to an entire chapter for help, but in most instances I've tried to direct you to the exact section in the chapter where you'll find what you need.

Improving Your Outlook

What good is all this information if you can't see how to apply it in the real world? In almost every chapter of this book, I've included a case study section entitled “Improving Your Outlook.” That case study illustrates how to apply the information you've just learned in the real world. Many of these case studies are real-world examples I've encountered in my business. I hope they help you understand how to apply all the tips and tricks in this book.

Author's Final Comments

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send me an email at patricia@mvps.org. I'll do my best to answer every message I receive.

Patricia Cardoza

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