Outlook: Search Folders and Smart Folders

Search Folders often elicit an “aha!” moment for attendees in Outlook Advanced training. Many people discover these handy folders can take the place of their existing complicated folder rules. Let’s see how these special folders work.

New Search Folder View

Exercise File

Hey there is no exercise file for you today! Just open up your Outlook and follow along.

Oh, and if you are a Mac user and think this won’t apply to you, think again! I have a solution for you toward the end.

PC Users: Create a Search Folder

On the left side of your Outlook mail, you likely have all sorts of folders. Scroll all the way down to the bottom, and you will find Search Folders

Search Folders on left menu

1. Right click on top of Search Folder and select New Search Folder.

right click menu, new search folder

2. A popup screen will appear with a plethora of options. Lets start with one toward the top: Mail Flagged for Follow Up. Select this option and press OK.

New Search Folder View

3. A new folder appears on the left side of your screen under Search Folders. Click on it, and here is a shortcut to all the mail you have flagged for follow up.

Don’t have any messages flagged for follow up? No problem, we are going to create some more folders.

For Follow Up Search folder visible on left side of screen

Create Another Search Folder

1. Follow step 1 above, and this time select Mail from and to specific people.

2. Toward the bottom of the popup, press Choose to search for a person.

New search folder view, choose button circled.

3. You will be taken to the old familiar search screen (blurred out here for WSU employees’ privacy). In the upper left, type the last name of someone who emails you often.

Global Address List

4. When you find their name on the list, select it, and press OK.

5. Now you have a folder of all the emails in your inbox from this person.

More options

It is worth your time to look through all the Search Folder options. Popular Search Folders include:

  • Unread mail
  • Mail flagged for follow up
  • Important mail
  • Mail from specific people
  • Categorized mail
  • Mail with attachments
  • Mail with specific words (think about form results that come to you with the same title)
  • Custom Search Folder: if all else fails, you can completely design your own
New Search folder view, mail with attachments selected.

Since most of us have a lot of activity on the left side of our Outlook screen, if you want to draw attention to your new Search Folder, you can add it to favorites by right clicking on it.

Right click menu, add to favorites circled

In this way, and a couple other ways, Search Folders are going to behave very much like other folders. But there are some important differences.

A Word About Search Folders

Since they behave similar to regular folders, it is easy to forget that Search Folders are a different type of animal.

A shortcut to search

A search folder is a shortcut to search, nothing more. It is a window into what could have been an advanced search. This is important for several reasons:

  • The mail in the folders still only exist in your inbox, not a separate folder within the inbox.
  • Deleting a search folder will not delete the contents, just the search window.
right click menu, delete folder circled.

If you delete a search folder, you will even receive a message that tells you as much.

warning message indicating that items items in the folder will not be deleted if folder is deleted.

Note: be careful when you do so that you are selecting Delete Folder, not Delete All.

Mac Users: Smart Folders

Mac users, it is finally your turn! While you don’t have Search Folders, you have something arguably cooler. They are called Smart Folders.

1. Start by clicking into the Search bar in the upper right. This will activate the contextual Search tab.

2. Click on the Search tab, and create a customized search: perhaps email from a specific person, then plugging in their name underneath.

3. In the upper right of the Search tab, press Save Search.

Mac view: search tab circled, save search button circled

4. A new folder is created in your Smart Folders, all you have left to do is name it!

New folder appears in Smart Folders on the left.

In a lot of ways, the Mac Smart Folders are more user friendly than the PC Search Folders, but they both accomplish the same task: they give you a very special window into a search of your inbox.


What do you think? Will you find a use for Search Folders or Smart Folders? Will this eliminate the need for some of your folder rules?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

Word: Mail Merge with PDF Attachments

Have you ever wished that you could do an email Mail Merge with PDF attachments as the merged results? There are a variety of reasons you may want to do this. Maybe you would like to send individual PDF letters to students via email attachment, or perhaps you want to have a partially completed PDF form that is personalized for each person you are emailing. The possibilities are endless! By the way, big thanks to Julie and Meghan for having an awesome question in last week’s Word session that has inspired this Byte!


  • Today I am going to be referencing an Add In that comes with the installation of Acrobat DC on a computer. To request Acrobat DC, or other Adobe Creative Cloud programs, contact the Help Desk at 4357.
  • Also, for these exercises, I am assuming you have some experience with Mail Merge in Word. If you have never merged before, or are not comfortable with the process, please come attend my Microsoft Word Essentials training! You will be comfortable with it in no time.

Exercise Files

Here are a couple files for experimentation, if you would like to follow along:

  • Sample Letter Word Document: this is your file that you would like to turn into a merged PDF for recipients. This is a fictional letter for potential students.
  • Mail Merge Database Excel File: this is a fictional database for linking to the merge document.
  • Important: you should save these both to your desktop before starting, since you will have to browse to find the Excel file when merging.

Creating the Merge

You will start this merge like any other email merge:

1. Open the Sample Letter Word file.

2. Go to Mailings tab and select Start Mail Merge

3. Select Letters

Start Mail Merge dropdown, Letters selected

4. Select Recipients and browse for the Excel file

Select recipients dropdown, Use an existing list selected

5. Insert Merge Fields as desired. I am going to insert:

  • Address block
  • Greeting line, and
  • Interest field
Insert Merge Field dropdown

Work Offline

In real life, this is an optional step when doing an email merge, but I will ask you to do it this time, since we are working with fake email accounts, and you probably don’t want to receive a bunch of bounce back emails. When you work Offline in Outlook, it allows you the opportunity to review your email merge before going back online and sending them.

  • In Outlook, go to the send/receive tab and select Work Offline.
Outlook Send/Receive tab, Work Offline selected

Finish and Merge

1. Instead of going to Finish and Merge, like we usually do, we are going to select Merge to Adobe PDF.

Mailings tab, Merge to Adobe PDF circled

2. In the popup screen:

  • Specify a name for your PDF
Specify PDF File name completed with "Welcome" title
  • Check the box next to Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email. Email data will populate by default, but that is something that could be changed if the wrong column is selected.
Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email box checked. Email selected from dropdown.
  • Type in a special email Message, if desired.
Message inserted in Message box: We can't wait to see you this fall!
  • Press Ok

3. Select a location to save the merged PDF files. This creates separate PDFs for each of the merge results, for your records.

If there you don’t see a location that will work, notice you can also create a new folder in the lower left.

Browse for location screen

Double Check Results

  1. Open your Outlook.
  2. Since you are working Offline, these files are going to be sitting in your Outbox. You should see a number on the left side of your screen next to Outbox. Click on the Outbox to access the folder.
Outbox displayed on list

3. You will see a list of emails. Double click on any of them and take a look at the email that is set to send. You will see your message, subject line, and a PDF attachment.

Email from results, with PDF attachment

4. Double click on the attachment. Here is the letter you wanted to send, as a PDF attachment.

PDF of merged Word file

5. The individual PDFs are also living wherever you chose to store them on the previous section, step 3.

Work Online

Don’t forget that you need to go back online again with your Outlook! When you go back online, all of the emails in your outbox are going to send automatically, and in this case (with our fake emails) is not a good idea.

Red X next to each email to delete from Outbox.
  1. Click on the red X to the right of of each of the emails to delete them.
  2. When you are finished, revisit the Send/Receive tab and toggle off the Work Offline button to go back online again.


Will you use this in your area? I would love to hear how you plan to use this tool!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

Microsoft Office: Customizing the Ribbon

In every Micrsoft Essentials training, we talk about customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). In a similar vein, did you know you can customize your Microsoft Ribbon as well? Indeed, you can create your own custom groups with those hard-to-find favorite features. This is just another way to save yourself a few clicks throughout the day… which we all know can add up to a lot of time. Let’s take a look.
Customize Ribbon selected on dropdown

Exercise File

There is no exercise file today, because you will be customizing the ribbon on your individual download of Microsoft Office. If you would like to follow along, open up a blank Word document.

Layout of the Ribbon

Ribbon with Tabs, groups and commands labeled

The Ribbon is made up of:

  1. Tabs: e.g. Home, Insert, Design
  2. Groups: printed at the bottom of each tab, e.g. Clipboard, Font, Paragraph
  3. Commands: the buttons/features within each group

Throughout all our sessions, have also talked about how we see specific Contextual Tabs, or Tool Tabs, appear as we access certain features (pictures, tables, etc.).  All of these can be customized.

How to Customize the Ribbon

Let’s say that you have been doing a lot of work in Word. You would like to make it easier to find Alt Text when inserting images. You also frequently find yourself adjusting Headers, Footers, and Page Setup options, and would like to save yourself a few clicks in finding these features.

Create a Group

  1. Right click in a grey space on top of the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
    Customize Ribbon selected on dropdown

    • Notice this looks similar to the QAT customization screen, but this time Customize Ribbon is highlighted.

Customize Ribbon highlighted

  1. Highlight the Home tab on the right and press New Group at the lower right of the screen.
    New Group button circled
  2. A new group will appear in the home tab list. Select it and press Rename to name it something else. I am going to name mine Special.
    New group, rename button circled

Add Commands

Let’s add a few commands to the Special group.

  1. Select the Special group on the right pane.
  2. On the Left Pane, change the dropdown from Popular Commands to All Commands.
    All commands selected
  3. Scroll down to Edit Footer. Select it, press the Add button between the two panes.

Edit footer slected, add button circled

  1. Do the same for Edit Header, and Page Setup

Once you click OK, you will see a new group with your custom commands.

Special group with new commands

Customizing a Contextual/Tool Tab

We added the previous commands to the Home tab in Word. We also would like to add Alt Text to the Picture Tools contextual tab. Contextual/Tool tabs are tabs that we don’t see until we select a specific object (like a picture) the document.

Note: if you are using Office 365, Alt text will already appear on the Picture Tools tab by default.

To customize the Contextual/Tool tabs:

  1. Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon
  2. On the right pane, change the dropdown from Main Tabs to Tool Tabs.Tool Tabs selected
  3. Find the Picture Tools tab and select the only group (Format).
  4. Follow the instructions above to add Alt Text to your picture tools tab.

Remove Commands

You will not be able to remove the default commands from the ribbon, but if you would like to remove commands that you have added yourself, you can do so easily:

  1. Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
  2. Highlight the command or group (in our case, Special) on the right pane
  3. Press the Remove button between the two panesSpecial group highlighted, remove button circled


Remember, this works in all your Microsoft Office programs, not just our Word examples above.  I am sure there are special features you wish you could access more easily, so I can’t wait to hear what you decide to do!  A few I have added to mine are:

  1. Outlook: Journal Feature to the Home tab (and QAT, because I am extra).
  2. All Programs: Alt Text to the Picture Tools tab
    • As I mentioned earlier, in Microsoft 365, Alt text will appear on the picture tools tab by default, but if you are on 2016 or earlier, it can be a huge time saver to add it yourself.
  3. Excel: Set Print Area to the Home Tab


How will you customize the ribbon on your Office programs? I would love to hear which commands you decide to add!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our Power Users! For a full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser




Microsoft Office: Creating and Using Templates

Microsoft templates are a mystery to a lot of people. Maybe you have found  a way to save a file as a template. You noticed a new type of extension appear at the end of the file… but for the most part you see it behaving the same as a regular office file. So you wonder, what is the big deal with templates? I have to let you in on a secret. The usefulness of template files is all about where they are saved.  And… they can actually be a timesaving lifesaver in a pinch, especially for repetitive work. Let’s explore how templates work in MS Office.

Exercise Files

This process will work the same in Excel, Word and PowerPoint; here are some sample templates to try out for each program:

p.s. This awesome PowerPoint template is available through the Strategic Communications Templates page. I hear that more will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

Open the File

Let’s open one of the files, the Word Template. Let’s say this is a file you had spent a lot of time creating; from selecting a theme and color palette, to tweaking the Styles to creating a dynamic Table of Contents. (More on those options for a future Byte).

Word Template with Themes and palettes

Save As

  1. Go to File and select Save As (or a lot of you know that my favorite shortcut for a quick Save As screen is F12). Location doesn’t matter, because that is about to change when we select type.
  2. In the Save as Type dropdown menu, select Word Template.
    Save As screen with type dropdown
  3. Notice this changes the default location of your save to Custom Office Templates Folder.This is important:  do not change this save location! This is where Word will look for your template.
    Custom Office Templates Folder Location
  4. Press Save.

 Access Your Personal Templates

Let’s test out your new template!

  1. Go to File and select New. You are creating an entirely new Word document, just like you would in the future when starting from scratch.
    File, New screen
  2. At the top of the templates, notice you now have a Personal tab. Press this button.
    Personal Templates button
  3. You should see your new template, the Office Bytes Template. Select this to apply the template to your new Word document.
    Template in the Personal Templates folder

Notice how this brings in not only the content, but all the themes, colors, fonts and styles.

This will work the same way with your PowerPoint and Excel file examples. Give it a try!


Do you have a handy use for templates like this in your office?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Amy Yonai

Amy Yonai


Outlook: Delay Delivery

There are a variety of reasons that you may want to delay delivery of an email in Outlook. Perhaps you are waiting until a specific time to send a reminder, or maybe you need to delay sending emails to specific people until 4:59 pm (or 7:59 am). Outlook’s Delay Delivery feature may be just what you are looking for.

Mac Users

It looks like this feature will be coming in the future to Mac users (365 and 2019 versions of Outlook), so stay tuned! It will be called “Send Later,” and will appear as a dropdown next to the Send button.
Mac Send Later screen

PC Users: Outlook Options

To start, try testing this out on a test email, not an important one.

  1. Create a New Email.
    New email button
  2. Select the Options tab in the ribbon
  3. In the More Options group, press Delay Delivery
    Options tab, delay delivery button
  4. In the pop up screen, Delivery Options section, make sure the box next to Do not Deliver before is checked. Set the date and time for delivery and pressIf you want to see the feature in action, try delaying your test email for just a few minutes.
    Do not deliver before selected, date and time entered
  5. When you are ready to send the message, press Send, just like usual.
    Send Button
  6. The email will be in your Outbox until the delivery time. To make a change or delete the message, go to your outbox. Double click on the message to reopen and access the Options tab on the ribbon.
    Outlook folder,s Outbox circled

Important Caveats

Closing Outlook

  • When you use this feature in Outlook, your Outlook program must be up and running for the delivery to occur. So, if the delivery time occurs while your Outlook is closed, the delivery will not occur until you reopen Outlook.
  • If you Delay Delivery and close your Outlook, you will receive a reminder message that there are items in your Outbox.Warning message that there are messages in outbox

Button Defaults

  • As soon as you press the Delay Delivery button, the email will be delayed until a default time until you uncheck Do Not Deliver Before In other words, if you press this button to look at the feature but do not want to delay delivery, be sure to uncheck the box next to Do Not Deliver Before.Do Not Deliver Before box


What do you think? Do you have great ideas for using this cool feature in Outlook?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Susie Jacques
    Susie Jacques
  • Heather Merchant
    (as Flash Phil!)Heather Merchant

Outlook: Journal Feature

Power Users will have to pardon me for repeating myself, but I can’t stop shouting about the Journal feature in Outlook. What a cool tool; deceptively simple yet useful in a multitude of ways, this creature is a favorite in Outlook Essentials training.

There are many ways you might choose to organize your phone calls and conversations; OneNote, an old-fashioned spiral notebook, your impeccable memory… but the Journal is by far my favorite go-to for this. It integrates seamlessly into Outlook; it is searchable, compatible with your calendar, and a welcome addition to the Outlook universe.

Have you never used this feature? You are not alone. I rarely meet someone before Outlook Essentials training who has heard of it.

Apologies to Mac Users

Before I jump in too deep, I have sad news for Mac users… there is not a Journal feature in the Mac version of Outlook. This is only within the desktop PC Outlook program. Not fair! I am sorry, Mac friends.

Where is the Journal?

Even for PC users, Outlook does not make the Journal easy to find.

To find the Journal:

  1. In the lower left navigation, go to Mail Module

Mail Module

  1. Click the “” on the right side of the Navigation


  1. Select Folders


  1. On the left side of the screen select Journal.


Make a Shortcut

Since it is a bit of a trek to find the Journal, you might find it helpful to create a shortcut. There are a couple ways to accomplish this, but I am particularly fond of the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). The QAT is a series of tiny buttons above the ribbon in Microsoft programs.


To add the Journal to the QAT:

  1. Press the down arrow on the right side and select More Commands

 More Commands


  1. In the dropdown at the top of the popup, change Popular Commands to All Commands

All Commands


  1. Scroll down until you find the Journal (the entries are alphabetical). Select the Journal on the left pane, press the Add button between the two panes. Then it will appear on the right pane

QAT Screen

  1. Press OK.

Now you can navigate to the Journal by pressing your newly created Journal button in the QAT.Journal Button

Journal Entries

Making a journal entry is remarkably intuitive. Let’s create one. First,  navigate to your Journal by pressing the new QAT button.


In the ribbon of the Journal, select the first button, Journal Entry.

Journal Entry

In the popup screen notice the ability to enter a subject, an Entry type (e.g. phone, conversation, etc).

Journal Entry Screen

You can manually enter a start and end time, or you can make use of the built in Timer.


I particularly like the timer for phone calls.


Once you have created a Journal entry, press Save and Close on the left side of the ribbon.

Journal Entry


Now you have created a searchable entry in Outlook. While you are still in the Journal module, there is a search feature in the upper left. If a couple weeks go by and you can’t remember certain details, now you can search by a word and quickly find all the Journal entries

 Journal Search Bar


Calendar Integration

You might want to add a Journal entry to your calendar. Perhaps your phone call was particularly long, or perhaps you would like a record to be visible to people with whom you have shared your calendar. To add a Journal entry to your calendar:

  1. Click on the entry in the Journal entry list
  2. Hold down your mouse, and drag this down to the calendar icon in the lower left navigation.

Drag Journal Entry to Calendar

This will create a calendar event with your Journal details.

Calendar event with Journal details

Note that you will have to hand enter start and end times for the calendar event.


So what do you think? Do you have great plans for the Journal in Outlook?

Outlook Formatting Woes: Replying to Email Sent from a Phone

You have probably experienced this scenario:

On your desktop Outlook you open an email that a coworker sends you from her phone.

Unformatted email

You notice that the formatting looks sparse, but you don’t think much about this until you start to compose your reply. Your signature looks different than usual, you can’t format text, or change fonts… even doing something simple, like making a word bold or italic, is impossible as a good portion of the ribbon is greyed out and unselectable. What is going on here?

Email response with no formatting options visible

When your coworker emailed you from her phone (or tablet), most likely the formatting of the entire email changed over to Plain Text. This means minimal to no formatting and no images, even for your responses to her email.

How to Fix

Want to hear the good news? You can fix this in two clicks.

Important: first, be sure that you are replying in a popped out message pane. We talk about this Pop Out view a lot in Outlook Essentials training, and how it opens up a whole new world of opportunities in the Outlook ribbon. This button lives right above the Send button in the Reply preview pane.

Pop Out button

Okay, are you ready for the two steps?

  1. Go to the Format Text Tab
  2. In the Format group, change the selection from Plain Text to HTML by pressing the HTML button.HTML Button

Go back to your Home and Insert tabs, and you will see that all of your options have returned. Happy day! Heads up though, if your signature is set to automatic, you may need to reinsert your signature to bring back the formatting in the signature.

Options returned to the ribbon

I hope this tip prevents some frustration for you in the future. No exercise files today, unless you would like me to send you an unformatted email from my phone to test out this setting… if so, you know where to find me!