Repeat Actions in the Outlook Mail Folder with Quick Steps

Are you frustrated with performing the same actions over and over again in your Inbox? There’s an app for that, so to speak! Speed up organization and save time with Outlook’s amazing Quick Steps feature.

Default Quick Steps Built into Outlook

In your Inbox, access the Quick Steps group from the Home tab on the Ribbon. There are six default actions already built into Outlook 2010 and above:

Move To ?: If you have created a folder such as Save or Later, or frequently move emails to a specific folder, use this command. Outlook will move messages to the last folder you moved a message to (replaces the ? with the name of that folder).

Team Email:* Sends a message to everyone in a group or project that is pre-populated.

Reply & Delete: The name pretty much says it all: When you select this Quick Step, Outlook automatically opens a Message form for replying to the sender of the selected message and moves the selected message to the Deleted Items folder.

To Manager:* Forward a message automatically to person(s) you have set up. The original remains in your Inbox.

Done: This marks the selected message with the Mark Complete flag, marks the message as read, and moves the message to a designated folder.

Create New: This opens the Edit Quick Step Wizard, which allows you to create your own custom Quick Steps.

*If you are on Exchange Server, these will be automatically set up for you. If not, you can set up your own list(s).

There are additional templates and you can categorize, flag, mark as read, set up a meeting with specific people or click Custom to create your own Quick Step with the Edit Quick Step dialog box. You give your Quick Step an appropriate name to make available for repeated use:

How to Set up a Quick Step

Except for the Reply & Delete Quick Step, each of these Quick Steps requires you to make some decisions but you only have to do this once. Then, Outlook automatically repeats the actions whenever you select that Quick Step.

To use one of the six listed steps in the group, just click on desired step, such as Move to: ? to display the First Time Setup dialog box. Each of the Quick Steps is a bit different, but, here are the steps using the Move To:? Quick Step:

  • Click the Inbox icon in the Folder pane to display a list of incoming mail messages.
  • Select a message in the Inbox. (It can be any message. Don’t worry about it actually being moved. As long as this is the first time you’re using the Move To Quick Step, the message you select won’t be moved. Outlook just needs to know which type of Outlook Quick Step element you are creating).
  • Click the Home tab and click Move To: in the upper-left corner of the Quick Steps box. The First Time Setup dialog box opens. (If the dialog box already has a folder name in it, Outlook is just suggesting the last folder to which you moved a message).

  • Type in a name for the Quick Step in the First Time Setup dialog box.
  • Select a folder to where the Quick Step will move messages in the Move to Folder box by clicking the arrow at the end of the box. (If you don’t see the folder you want, choose the Other Folder selection, which opens the Select Folder window so you can see a detailed list of all available folders. You can also create a new folder using the Select Folder window).
  • Make sure the Move to Folder check box is selected.
  • Ensure the Mark as Read check box is also selected if you want each message marked as read when the Quick Step moves it.
  • To make changes to the Quick Step’s icon, add actions to it, or create a keyboard shortcut for the Quick Step, click the Options button to access those settings.
  • Click the Save button to close the First Time Setup dialog box.

Now, whenever you want to move message(s) to the specific folder, just select the message(s) and click the Quick Step you created. Message(s) will automatically move to the folder and be marked as read.

Manage Quick Steps

There are several additional options available for this feature, such as edit, delete, change the order displayed and duplicate Quick Steps:

In Mail, on the Home tab, in the Quick Steps group, click the More arrow at the side of the Quick Steps box, and then click Manage Quick Steps. You can also manipulate choices by opening the Quick Steps dialog box (the Launcher icon on the bottom right of the Quick Steps group)

Create a Custom Quick Step

Create your own Quick Step or perform multiple actions, by customizing – sort of a…If this, then do that, scenario.

You can customize Quick Steps one of several ways:

  • Click Create New in the Quick Steps group, or
  • Click the More arrow icon, pointing at New Quick Step and choosing Custom, or
  • Click the Launcher icon in the lower right corner of the group to open the Manage Quick Steps dialog box; click the drop down arrow on the New button and select Custom.

Any one of these methods will display the Edit Quick Step box where you can start creating the actions:

  • Type a name for the Quick Step.
  • Choose the first action from the drop down list, i.e., Copy to folder.
  • Click the Add Action button and choose the next action, i.e., Categorize, Create a Meeting, Forward Message, etc.
  • If you want further actions, click Add Action again and choose from the list. (All of the actions give options to add details and steps will display separately when applied for any desired editing of information, such as entering meeting times and recipient copies).
  • Create a shortcut key, if desired.
  • Create a tooltip that describes the actions, if desired. This will display when the mouse is pointed at the Quick Step.
  • Click the Finish button when completed, and that Quick Step name will appear in the Quick Step group.

Now you can just click on any message you want to apply those steps to and done. How cool is that!

NOTE: You can edit any existing Quick Step you have created by selecting the name and clicking the Edit button in the Manage Quick Steps dialog box.

Outlook is so powerful and can be confusing with all its features but you can take charge by doing one Quick Step at a time! Speaking of confusion, there is some around the difference between Quick Step, Quick Part and Rules. I’ll be covering the latter two down the road but this might help…

Quick Steps vs. Rules

Rules typically are always on and run automatically. An example would be, when a message is received from a specified person, it is moved automatically to the folder you designated. Outlook includes rule templates for common scenarios. You can use these rule templates, or design your own custom rules. Quick Steps are applied manually by choosing the appropriate Step(s) when desired.

Are you going to use Quick Steps now? Let me know in the Comments if you are have created your own or just gone with those that are built-in and how they have streamlined your Inbox.

Happy computing!

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