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Part I: The Big Picture > Outlook's Navigation Tools

Chapter 4. Outlook's Navigation Tools

Once upon a time, menus were simple devices. They provided the user with an easy way to display a list of program commands. Then along came toolbars that contained a fixed selection of button-images to quickly access frequently used commands. These days, the situation is very different. In Outlook 2000 we now have menus that are customizable and adaptive; toolbars that are customizable, selectable, and adaptive; and a dizzying array of context menus. Some of these features are fully automatic, while others display a complex mix of automatic and manually configured behavior. This chapter attempts to bring some order to using and customizing Outlook's navigational tools.

Normally, menus and toolbars don't get a lot of attention—that is, until you either cannot find a command, the command you eventually find is not where you expected it, or something does not work as advertised. For these frustrating scenarios, help is at hand. By the time you've finished with this chapter, you should be able to find those missing or vanishing commands, build custom menus and toolbars, or simply rearrange an existing menu or toolbar to better suit your work habits.

In addition to menus and toolbars, Outlook also provides two tools that can be utilized as navigational aids, but also function as indispensable file management tools: the Outlook Bar and the Folder List. Both of these tools are discussed later in this chapter.

We begin this chapter with a look at the concept of adaptive menus and toolbars. As you read the following section, keep in mind the difference between the terms adaptive and context. Adaptive refers to the ability of a menu or toolbar to learn and remember the commands you use most often; this is a feature in Outlook that can be turned on or off. Context defines what commands are available when working in a given component or in a specific region (pane) of a component. For example, the commands displayed on a menu or toolbar under Outlook's Journal component will be different than the commands available when viewing a Note.

Adaptive menus and Personalized menus are one and the same. We have chosen to use the term Adaptive for consistency throughout this chapter.

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