Read an Excerpt
Chapter 3: Communicating With E-MailOutlook's Contacts component, discussed in Chapter 2, helps you organize information about people without actually communicating with them. But communication with colleagues is an integral part of daily work, and in recent years, electronic mail (or e-mail) has become the primary method of communication for many people. Some people have internal e-mail (company-wide or institution-wide), some have Internet e-mail, and some have both. Regardless of what type of e-mail you have, it can all be handled by Outlook's e-mail component. In this chapter, we discuss how to use this component to create, send, receive, and manage e-mail messages.
There's nothing difficult about the concept of e-mail. It's simply a way of sending messages that bypasses the traditional post office. The beauty of e-mail is that it doesn't use paper resources, it's fast, and it costs nothing (at least, nothing more than you may already be paying for Internet access). Sometimes it is even better than using the telephone because you can deal with important business right away rather than running the risk of playing phone tag. Add to these advantages the fact that you can include files, programs, and other attachments with the messages you send, and also that you can send the same message to several people without any additional effort. It's not surprising that even people with abysmal letterwriting habits become staunch advocates of e-mail as a means of communication.
Sometimes people confuse internal e-mail and Internet e-mail. It's easy to understand why because, in many ways, they are similar. However, having internal e-mail doesn't necessarily mean you have Internet e-mail, and vice versa. To be able to send e-mail to a colleague down the hall via internal e-mail, both your computer and your colleague's computer need to be connected to your organization's network. To be able to send e-mail to a client in another state via the Internet, both your computer and your client's computer need to be able to access the Internet. This access may be invisibly provided by a server on your network, further blurring the distinction between internal and Internet e-mail. Or access may be more visibly provided via a modem connection to an Internet service provider (or ISP). Either way, you can use Outlook. (See the tip on the facing page for more information about Internet e-mail.) Outlook can be configured to work with many of the more popular e-mail programs, but to take full advantage of some of Outlook's capabilities, you need to be working on a network that runs Microsoft Exchange Server.
Using the Inbox
As you may recall from Chapter 1, by default the Inbox is the component displayed in the workspace when you start Outlook. The Inbox is Outlook's main e-mail folder and the place where you will spend most of your time when working with e-mail. (Icons for the other e-mail folders-Drafts, Outbox, and Sent Items-are available in the Outlook bar's My Shortcuts group.) Well, let's jump right in and start sending and receiving messages:
Start Outlook by double-clicking its icon on the desktop. One of two things happens:
- If Outlook is set up to automatically log on to an e-mail server when it starts up, Outlook connects to the server and then checks for new messages.
- If Outlook is not set up to automatically log on to an e-mail server, Outlook does not connect to your server. (By the way, this method is called working offline.) Don't worry though. You can still proceed, and we will show you how to manually make the connection on page 69.
If you have been working in another Outlook component, you can display the contents of the Inbox in the workspace by clicking the Inbox icon in the Outlook bar's Outlook Shortcuts group.
With Outlook, you both send and receive e-mail through the Inbox, You'll practice the sending side of the equation first. For demonstration purposes, you will e-mail a reminder message to yourself, but bear in mind that you would probably use Outlook's Notes or Tasks component for this type of reminder, rather than e-mail. In our examples, we use internal e-mail, but if you are using Internet e-mail, you should have no difficulty following along.
Suppose you are planning a meeting with a client and you want to remind yourself to check on the conference room reservation first thing tomorrow morning. Follow these steps:
1. Click the New Mail Message button on the toolbar to display a Message window
2. In the To edit box, type your own e-mail address. (To send a message to someone else instead, enter his or her address. To send the same message to more than one person, enter their addresses one after the other, separated by semicolons.) Then press Tab to move to the next box....