Top 10 Microsoft Outlook Features for Small Businesses
This article is part of a larger series on Business Email.
Many professionals only scratch the surface of what they can do using Microsoft 365 Outlook features and tools. From branded signatures and sophisticated scheduling tools to time-saving templates, keyboard shortcuts, automation, and layout hacks, we outline the top Microsoft Outlook features for small business users below.
Comparing the email features of Microsoft 365 to Google Workspace to see which is best for your small business? Get all the details—we compare Gmail vs Outlook features side by side.
1. Create Custom Outlook Email Signatures
You can add one or multiple professional email signatures into Outlook and then use them interchangeably. For instance, sales agents can create Outlook email signatures with different calls to action and then use them in prospecting and lead nurturing emails based on the client and stage in the sales funnel or pipeline.
To get add an email signature in Outlook, open a new email message. Next, click on “Insert” in the top menu bar, then “Signature.” Then click on Signatures, and a “Signatures and Stationery” editor will open where you can add a new signature directly or cut and paste a signature block you created in a Word or some other document.
You can even adjust your settings so that a specific signature is used any time you send a new message or reply to a message. You can also set different signatures to be used depending on which email account you are sending from. To change your email signature in Outlook, follow the same steps above and simply choose the signature you want from the drop-down.
For even more engaging signatures, use one of the best email signature generators, like HubSpot or WiseStamp. They make it easy to format Outlook email signatures and add graphics, links, and a call to action. With HubSpot, you copy and paste your signature similar to the process above. Alternatively, you can seamlessly integrate your WiseStamp email signature with Outlook through an Outlook extension.
2. Schedule Outlook Email Sends in Advance
Another one of the Microsoft Outlook email features small business users appreciate is the ability to schedule emails to be sent out automatically at a later time. This could come in handy if you want to send emails to local journalists to coincide with press release distribution, for example. You could also use it to automatically send an email to your team welcoming a new hire on their first day, send an invoice, or remind a customer that a payment is due.
With your email message open, schedule it by going to “Options” in the top menu bar. Click on “Delay Delivery” and check the “Do not deliver before.” Then add the date and time you want your Outlook email scheduled to be sent.
3. Create Meetings, Appointments, Tasks & New Contacts From the Main Outlook Dashboard
Among the time-saving email features Outlook provides is the ability to perform several different types of common business tasks without switching screens or apps. For example, instead of navigating to the Outlook task manager from the main dashboard, simply click on “New Items” under the Home menu to create a new task.
The process of how to schedule a meeting in Outlook is equally easy. While you can navigate to the calendar, you can also just click on “New Items” under the home menu and then click on Appointment. From here, you can also start a new email message, request a meeting (essentially the same as adding an appointment but also includes fields to invite other guests), or add a new contact.
Open the “New Items” button under the Home menu of the Outlook email dashboard and simply click on Appointment, Meeting, Group, Contact, or Task, depending on what you want to do. You can even write down the details of an appointment in an email and drag them onto the calendar icon to create new calendar appointments.
4. Create Time & Labor-saving Outlook Email Templates
You can create your own custom email templates in Outlook. This can be helpful for sales agents using email for cold email prospecting and lead nurturing, as well as accounting staff sending payment reminder emails to customers. Likewise, human resources pros who want to save scripts for onboarding, payroll, or benefits enrollment emails will also find this useful.
To create an outlook email template, open a new email and type out your message. Then click on File, then Save As → Save as type, and choose “Email template.”
To access email templates in Outlook when writing future emails, click on “New Items” on the Home menu instead of opening a new email. Then click on “More items” and “Choose Form.” From here, use the drop-down to locate the list of user templates and click on the Outlook email template you want to use.
5. Master Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts to Save Time
Keyboard shortcuts are combinations of keys you can type that eliminate multistep processes. For example, instead of navigating to the Outlook calendar to create a new meeting, you can click CTRL+SHIFT+A to open up a calendar appointment box to add an event to your calendar.
Below are some of the most helpful Outlook keyboard shortcuts for small business users:
Outlook Keyboard Shortcut
Create a new meeting or event on your calendar
Create a meeting request
Create a new contact
Add a new task
Create a new message
Create a new Microsoft office document (e.g., MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on)
Undo the last action or delete the last item(s) typed
Insert a file
Search for something
CTRL+E or the F3 key
Check for new messages
CTRL+M or the F9 key
Switch to the Inbox
Open the Address Book
Print an item
Save an item
Move message to a different folder
Mark message as “unread”
Mark message as “read”
Go to the Calendar
Show from 1-10 days in the calendar, respectively
ALT+1 or +2,+3,+4,+5,+6,+7,+8,+9, or +0
Show the next 7 calendar days
Go to a specific date
Go to month view
Switch to workweek view
Wondering whether there are comparable shortcuts in Gmail? Read our list of the top 10 Gmail tips and tricks for small businesses.
6. Change Your Outlook Layout to Increase Efficiency
By changing the layout of your Outlook email dashboard, you can put important information into one view. For example, sales agents can see incoming messages, important tasks, and upcoming meetings in one interface. Likewise, administrative staff can keep track of multiple calendar events from one screen.
To change your Outlook layout, choose from the available View templates or select View Settings to add fonts and columns, sort emails, and see your calendar and tasks. If you have multiple email addresses to manage, you can even create separate views for each one depending on your preferences.
7. Share Calendars
Among other advanced Outlook calendar features is the ability for users to share calendars. This is an important feature for admins managing multiple users’ schedules or sharing access to a calendar for a conference room or some other corporate asset.
To share a calendar, select “Share Calendar” (under the Home menu in the Calendar view) and input the contact you want to share the calendar with. In the drop-down menu, choose either to see availability or the full details. Once you send the request, the recipient can then accept it and will be able to access your calendar. From this same menu, you can also publish your calendar to an online location.
Plus, Outlook email integrates with scheduling apps like Calendly. This makes it easy to extend meeting invitations to prospects and sync meetings to the calendars of all attendees automatically.
8. Manage Projects Using Outlook Tasks
Outlook tasks are an easy way to manage projects or quickly delegate something to an assistant or colleague. As deadlines can also be assigned, it’s easy to track progress and ensure that important to-do items are being completed.
To create a task in Outlook, click on “Tasks,” then select “New Task” (or use the Outlook keyboard shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+K). Assign a task to one or more people by adding their email address or selecting it from your contacts and adding task details or deadlines. When you’re ready, click send.
Once the recipient either accepts or declines the task, you’ll get a notification. You can also click the box to be notified when the recipient marks the task as finished, set the task’s priority level and status, or mark what percentage is complete.
For more robust project management, integrate business email tools like Asana with Outlook. You can create and assign tasks, see deal and conversation pipelines, and keep everyone on your team in the know about the status of accounts, projects, and deadlines.
9. Create Outlook Email Rules
Rules automatically manage emails on your behalf based on several simple-to-multifactor Outlook email rules. For example, you can create a rule in Outlook to automatically forward an email to a certain team member when it comes from a specific sender.
You can also create Outlook email rules to automatically send spam emails to the junk folder or permanently delete them. This is especially helpful when you get multiple emails from a sender without the ability to unsubscribe.
To make new email rules in Outlook, click on Rules, select “Manage Rules & Alerts,” then choose “New Rule.” This will allow you to delete emails from specific senders, put newsletters in a “read later” folder, automatically forward emails, or send recurring spam emails straight to your junk mail folder.
10. Microsoft Outlook Features That Perfect Business Emails Before Sending
The more emails you send, the more likely it is one will go out with embarrassing errors you wished you had avoided. Among Microsoft Outlook features that can help are built-in spelling, editing, and accessibility tools to ensure your email is perfect before you hit send.
To check the content of an email before hitting Send, click on “Review” in the top bar. Then use the Spelling and Grammar, Editor, and Thesaurus tools to improve your content and the Accessibility checker to make sure it’s totally recipient-friendly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I change my email signature in Outlook?
It’s easy to change your email signature in Outlook. To add a new email signature or access your saved signatures in Outlook, open a new email message. Then click on “Insert” in the top menu, then “Signature,” and then “Signatures.” This will take you to the Outlook email signature editor, where you can make a new signature or choose one you’ve previously created.
What are the benefits of using Outlook?
When it comes to Microsoft Outlook, small business owners get a lot of impressive tools. The benefits of using Outlook start with being able to create a professional email address on your domain, giving your business emails instant credibility. In addition to the features listed above, another great benefit is the ability to set up Outlook automated replies.
Automated responses in Outlook can be turned on and off for absences, for example, but that’s not all. You can also schedule them to come on for after-hours replies or to generate instant replies when messages are sent to specific mailboxes, such a customer service email address. They are also ideal for when an employee is no longer with your business, as they can include information about who to contact instead.
How do I create an email template in Outlook?
To create an email template in Outlook, first open and type out the email message you want to save as a template. Then, instead of adding a recipient and hitting Send, click on File in the top left corner, then “Save as.” From the drop-down menu, choose “Save as template.” Outlook will automatically save your template in a specific location, which you can then retrieve when needed through the New Items button in the top bar.
There are many Microsoft Outlook features small business users can use to improve productivity and save time. Take time to learn and master the use of these features and shortcuts. Then take advantage of the third-party integrations and business email tools that can power your brand’s digital communications to the next level.
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