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Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 (referred to throughout the book as Outlook 2003) is not only Microsoft's premier e-mail client but is also a powerful Personal Information Manager and a tool for collaborating with workgroups in a corporate setting. I've worked with Outlook since the first version, Outlook 97, and Outlook 2003 is already my favorite version of Outlook.

Using Outlook 2003, you can manage your calendar, appointments, and meetings; manage contacts and e-mail address books; organize tasks and to-do lists; keep notes and a journal; manage and control junk e-mails; share information with other people in a workgroup setting utilizing Microsoft Exchange Server; and use Outlook with other Microsoft Office applications for mail merging and data import and export.

Outlook's power does you little good, however, until you know how to navigate Outlook and exploit its many features. This Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 provides you with all the instructions you need in an easy-to-follow, fully illustrated format. This book begins with a general overview of Outlook and shows you how to set up Outlook initially; it then leads you step by step through the tasks you perform as you use Outlook every day.

A Book for the True Beginner

The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 is for novice Outlook users, those who have little or no experience with Outlook. Whether you must learn Outlook for work, school, or home, this is the book for you. This book also provides complete information about all the new features added to Outlook 2003. If you have used previous versions of Outlook and want to get up to speed quickly on using all the new features of Outlook 2003, this book is for you.

With its no-frills approach, the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 provides instructions on how to master the most basic tasks and then goes on to teach you to take advantage of the most powerful features that Outlook 2003 has to offer.

How This Book Is Organized

The overall structure of this book is designed to feed you information as you're ready for it. The book begins by providing a basic explanation of Outlook as Microsoft's premier e-mail client and as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) for managing personal as well as corporate and collaborative information. Later chapters show you how to set up Outlook profiles, e-mail accounts, and data store files and how to work with Outlook's items, folders, and the many Outlook functions and features. You will learn how to navigate Outlook and customize Outlook's features and user interface, with tips on making the best use of that area of Outlook.

In addition to progressing from the basics to more advanced techniques, this book is divided into five parts to help you easily locate the information you need.

Part 1: Outlook Basics

Consider this part to be Outlook 101, the starting point for those who have no experience with Outlook. You will learn how Outlook is organized, how it stores your data, and what happens the first time you run Outlook. Learning how to set up Outlook to connect to the Internet and get your e-mail is next on the agenda, followed by the basics of using folders and moving around in Outlook. This part concludes with a section that teaches you how to set preferences for the way Outlook works.

Part 2: Working with E-mail

As soon as you understand the basics of Outlook, you're ready to learn about working with e-mail in depth. Here, you learn how to receive e-mail and work with the Reading Pane, Outlook 2003's way to quickly read information without actually opening items. You also learn how to reply to e-mails, create new e-mails, and use Outlook's e-mail editors and formats. Next are advanced e-mail topics such as custom signatures, using stationery, attachments, junk e-mail (spam) filtering, and e-mail links to the Web.

Finally, you learn about Outlook 2003's brilliant new feature, Search Folders. Search Folders give you a whole new way to organize and work with your data that previous generations of Outlook users never had available.

Part 3: Managing Information in Outlook

In this part, you learn about the many other things Outlook can do in addition to sending and receiving your e-mail. You will learn about contact records and address books, managing a calendar and setting up appointments, using tasks to create a to-do list, keeping a journal, and taking notes in Outlook. This part begins to reveal why Outlook is such a powerful application.

Part 4: Making Outlook Work for You

Part 4 is the place where you learn how to manage Outlook information. You will learn how to add and organize folders; customize the Navigation Pane; find things; archive data; customize views; and print, export, and import Outlook information. When you finish this part, you will have graduated as an advanced Outlook user.

Part 5: Advanced Outlook Topics

In this part, you learn how Outlook interfaces with Word to perform mail merges and sends and receives secure e-mails. You also learn how to design custom Outlook forms and create and use Outlook rules that help automate Outlook's functionality.

If you use Outlook at work and your company uses Microsoft Exchange Server to send and receive e-mail, you are actually using an advanced workplace collaboration platform. Outlook and Exchange together provide public folders that can host discussion areas, common document storage, and advanced meeting planning. You learn how to use all these features as well as how to use shared folders, work with delegated folders, and ensure privacy in a workgroup environment.


The appendixes, which can be found on the book's web site (www.quepublishing.com), show how to install Outlook 2003 and the installation options available for Outlook 2003 and how to get help with Outlook problems. They also provide solutions to the most common problems Outlook users face and provide information about Outlook add-ins that extend Outlook's functionality and synchronize Outlook with a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).

Conventions Used in This Book

This book explains the essential concepts and tasks in an easily digestible format. At the beginning of each chapter is a bulleted list of “In This Chapter” highlights that provides you with a framework for what you are about to learn. At the end of each chapter, under the heading “The Absolute Minimum,” you can review the main points covered in the chapter.

In addition, several boxes appear throughout the book to direct your attention to a note that provides more detailed information, a tip that can help you perform a step more efficiently, or a caution to help you steer clear of a potential problem. Following is a brief description of each box:


Notes provide additional information about the subject matter covered in a particular section. You can safely skip these notes and still learn the basics.


Tips provide an insider's guide to a particular concept or task. Look for the tip icon to learn useful shortcuts that show you how to perform a task more efficiently.


Cautions point out common user errors and problem areas, so you can avoid the problems that hundreds of other users already have made. To avoid trouble and stay on the right track, read the cautions.

Assumptions in This Book

In this book, all the illustrations show full Outlook menus and assume that all Outlook features are installed on your hard drive. Outlook is also shown in full-screen mode to show the maximum amount of detail for illustrations. This book also assumes that Outlook is installed as part of Microsoft Office 2003 and was not purchased as a separate application.

Outlook Menus

Outlook menus show a subset of the available menu commands when you first start using Outlook. As you use Outlook, the menus are personalized to show the commands you use most frequently and to hide the commands you use less often. If you leave a personalized menu open for a while, the full menu is displayed, and you also can display a full menu by hovering the mouse cursor over the double down arrow at the bottom of the personalized menu. Figure I.1 shows the Outlook Tools menu using personalized menus.

Figure I.1. Personalized menus show the commands you use most often and hide less frequently used commands.

Outlook can be configured to show full menus instead of personalized menus. This book shows full menus in all illustrations that contain menus. Figure I.2 shows the Outlook Tools menu with Outlook configured to show full menus.

Figure I.2. Full menus show every menu command in the menu.

To customize Outlook menus to show full menus, follow these steps:

Select Tools, Customize.


The setting for full menus affects all Microsoft Office System 2003 applications that support personalized menus. Changing this setting in Outlook also changes the setting in Word, Excel, and the other Office applications.

Select the Options tab in the Customize dialog.

Check the Always show full menus checkbox, as shown in Figure I.3, and select Close to save the change.

Figure I.3. The Options tab of the Customize menu enables you to set how menus are displayed.

Outlook Features

In a default Outlook installation, some features are not installed or available, and some features are installed when they are first used. When a feature that is installed on first use is used for the first time, the Office Installer starts and requests access to the Office CD to install the feature on your hard drive. This book assumes a complete Outlook installation was performed, where all features are installed on your hard drive, ready for immediate use. All instructions in this book assume that all features are installed and do not include any prompts to install the feature or error messages displayed when a feature is not available.

The prompt to install a feature the first time it's used seems to occur most often when the CD isn't available, and with today's large hard drives, there really is no reason not to install all Outlook features. Most Office installations performed by computer manufacturers use a typical installation that doesn't install all features, but you can change that and install all Outlook features.

To learn how to install all Outlook features see the “Installing Outlook 2003” and “Adding and Removing Features” sections in Appendix A, “Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Installation.”

Microsoft Office 2003

The default e-mail editor for Outlook 2003 is Microsoft Word 2003. If you purchased Outlook 2003 as a separate application or as an update to a previous version of Microsoft Outlook, Word 2003 will not be available. In those cases, you cannot use Word as the Outlook e-mail editor, nor can you use earlier versions of Word as the e-mail editor for Outlook 2003.

This book assumes Microsoft Office 2003 is installed, and Word 2003 is available for use as Outlook's e-mail editor.

Final Thoughts

I've been using Outlook almost every day since shortly after the first version came out in 1997, and as an Outlook MVP (Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional) I've been providing support for Outlook in the Microsoft Outlook communities since 1998. Over the years, I've learned a lot of time-saving ways of using Outlook to manage my information. In this book, I'll teach you how to use and understand Outlook, and I'll also provide tips about how to use Outlook like a power user. After you read this book, I think you'll find Outlook to be as invaluable to you as it is to me every day.

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