Office for Mac: Hidden Tips & Tricks in Outlook for Mac 2011

Outlook for Mac 2011 logo

Rounding out our series on tips and tricks in Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, we come full circle to talk about the Office app that you probably use every day more than any other: Outlook.

Most of the tips below are specific to Outlook for Mac 2011, but should also work in Windows-based versions with a little tweaking.

1. Back Up Your Emails

Are you running out of space because you’re an email hoarder and just can’t stand to delete old messages? You can back up your emails and then delete them to save space, and then still keep the emails saved on an external drive in case you need them.

To back up your emails in Outlook for Mac 2011, go to File > Export. Choose what you want saved to the export file and then click the right arrow.

Outlook for Mac Export window

If you want Outlook to delete the exported emails, select Yes on the next page. If you still want the emails saved in Outlook, select No.

Name the file and save it to your desktop for the time being. Once it’s done exporting, you can move it to an external drive and you’re all backed up.

2. Set a Schedule

You probably do most of your tasks in Outlook manually, such as emptying the trash. Just like sending and receiving, however, you can automate these tasks so you’re always on top of things.

  • To set up schedules, click on the Tools tab of the Ribbon and then click the Schedules button.
  • In the drop-down that appears, select Edit Schedules.
  • Click the + sign at the bottom left of the window to add a new scheduled item.
  • Follow the steps given on the “Edit Schedule” window, including when you want the item to run and what you want to run.

Out of the box you can delete junk mail, empty the trash, and send/receive. You can download or write an AppleScript to do a specific task that isn’t listed. Here’s an example of an AppleScript.

3. Command Your Way Through Outlook Features

As you probably know, Outlook for Mac 2011 does more than just email; it also includes a calendar, contacts manager, task list, and notes section. These are usually shown in the bottom left corner of the Outlook window. But if you’d rather hide them to have more space in the folder tree, drag them out of the way and use simple keyboard shortcuts to go through them.
Outlook for Mac 2011 sidebar with Calendar, Contacts, and other features

This is all done with the Command button and the numbers 1 to 4 on your keyboard.

  • Command + 1 shows you the mail window.
  • Command + 2 brings up the calendar.
  • Command + 3 shows you your contacts.
  • Command + 4 will bring up notes.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

4. Control Your Flags Easily

If you use flags in Outlook on a regular basis, you can save yourself a lot of clicking by using the keyboard shortcuts to add to-do flags to your messages.

  • Hold the Control key and hit the 1 key to set a flag that’s due today.
  • Control + 2 makes the message due tomorrow.
  • Control + 3 sets it due the day after tomorrow.
  • Control + 4 sets it due one week from today.
  • Control + 5 will set it as an indefinite to-do item.

What if you have a specific date in mind that you want to set? Just hit Control + 6 and you can enter the due date manually.

5. Change Identities Faster Than Superman

Lego Superman figure

If you use Outlook both at home and at work, you run the very real risk of sending an important email to your manager using your personal email address by mistake. Not only does this look bad and make it seem like you’re doing personal work on the clock, it’s embarrassing when your manager sees your personal email address is

You can still use Outlook 2011 to house both work and private accounts, but it takes a little work. We actually did an entire how-to article on adding an identity to Outlook for Mac 2011 a little while ago. Check it out to see how it works and if this hack is for you.

6. Change Up Your Calendar

The last hidden tip for Outlook for Mac 2011 has to do with the calendar. While the Mac’s Calendar app is great, some people like to keep their work calendar separate, just like their email.

Outlook for Mac 2011 Calendar window

This is why the calendar in Outlook is so important. You may think that you’re stuck with how it works and displays. But then you’d be wrong, and who likes to be wrong, right?

Go to the Outlook menu and click on Preferences. Click on Calendar at the bottom of the window and choose how you want your calendar to display. You can change when your workday starts and ends, as well as what your work week is. Best of all, you can choose when your work week begins.


This wraps up our series on hidden tips and tricks in Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011. Hopefully you got some useful tips out of it and can start using Office better than before.

This won’t be the last series on Microsoft Office, so if you’re looking for advice and help with Office for Windows, be sure to check back soon.

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