Outlook 2007: 10 top tips

From speeding up attachment previews to integrating social networking, these tips will help get the most out of Outlook 2007

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Google Reader is an excellent Web-based RSS reader, and if you already use it, you may have quite a few RSS subscriptions there. What if you'd also like to get access to those RSS feeds -- and other Google Reader features -- from within Outlook? Here's how to do it:

1. Right-click the RSS feeds folder in Outlook and select Properties.

2. Click the Home Page tab.

3. In the Address box, type:


Check the box next to "Show home page by default for this folder." Then click OK.

From now on, when you click the RSS Feeds folder within Outlook, Google Reader appears in your Reading Pane and you can use it there in the same way as if you were using it on the Web. You will most likely have to log into Google Reader the first time you use it within Outlook. Your existing RSS feeds within Outlook won't vanish -- they'll be in their folders underneath the RSS Feed folder, just like before.

Sync Outlook's calendar with Google Calendar

Do you use the Outlook calendar at work, but also keep you own personal Google Calendar? Checking two calendars throughout the day and manually keeping them in sync can sometimes feel like a full-time chore. However, free software from Google can automatically keep them in sync.

Downloading, installing and setting up Google Calendar Sync is straightforward. The only real decision you'll face is what kind of sync to perform. You can perform a two-way sync, in which all events in both calendars are synced with each other, a one-way sync from Outlook to Google, or a one-way sync from Google to Outlook.

If you want to change the type of sync the program performs at any point, right-click the Google Calendar Sync icon in the System Tray, select Options, and make the change from the screen that appears.

Find where Outlook 2007 stores data

Outlook stores its data in many different locations, not all of them logical. Making things even more confusing is that some of the locations are different than they were in previous versions of Outlook. The locations may also vary depending on the version of Windows you use.

There are times when you'll want to know where the files are stored, for example if you want to back them up. To help you out, following is a list of the default files, extensions and their locations, and what they do. Note that this is for setups where Outlook is not being used in concert with Exchange Server.

Keep in mind that many of these folders are hidden by default. If yours are hidden, you can tell Windows to display them. How you do that depends on your operating system. In Windows Vista click the Start button and select Control Panel --> Appearance and Personalization --> Folder Options. Then on the View Tab, under Advanced Settings, select "Show Hidden Files and Folders" under the Hidden Files and Folders entry. Click OK.

In Windows XP, click the Start button, then click Control Panel. Click Folder Options, and in the View tab, select "Show hidden files and folders" under the "Hidden files and folders" entry. Then click OK.

Outlook 2007 file locations




Personal Folders

file (.pst)

Contains all of your e-mail messages, contacts, calendar information and task information

Windows Vista and Windows 7:

\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst (or archive.pst or another .pst file)

Windows XP or Windows Server 2003:

\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst (or archive.pst or another .pst file)

Command bar and menu customization information (.dat)

Stores information about how you have customized your command bar and other parts of Outlook

Windows Vista and Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\outcmd.dat

Navigation pane settings (.xml)

Stores information about how you configure the Navigation Pane

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.xml

Outlook Contacts AutoComplete (.nk2)

Suggests names and e-mail addresses as you type, based on past use

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.nk2


(.rtf, .txt, .htm)

Signatures you automatically attach to e-mails

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures\

Stationery (.htm)

Stationery that can be used as a background for e-mail

Windows Vista or Windows 7:

\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery\

Windows Vista or Windows 7 64-bit with Outlook 2007 32-bit:

\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery\

Windows XP:

\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery\

RSS feeds (.sharing.xml.obi)

RSS settings

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.sharing.xml.obi


settings (.srs)

Settings that determine when and how to send and receive mail

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.srs

Dictionary (.dic)

Your custom dictionary, used for spell-checking

Windows Vista or Windows 7:


Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\UProof\custom.dic

Take advantage of Outlook's keyboard shortcuts

Mousing around Outlook takes far too much time. Using the keyboard for common tasks is your quickest way to productivity. The following shortcuts will help you with just about anything you do in Outlook.

General shortcuts


Go to Mail


Go to Calendar


Go to Contacts


Go to Tasks


Go to Notes


Go to the Folder List in the Navigation Pane


Go to Shortcuts

Ctrl-. (period)

Go to the next message (when you have a message open)

Ctrl-, (comma)

Go to the previous message (when you have a message open)

F6 or Ctrl-Shift-Tab

Move between the Navigation Pane, the main Outlook window, the Reading Pane, and the To-Do Bar


Move between the main Outlook window, the smaller panes in the Navigation Pane, the Reading Pane, and the sections in the To-Do Bar

Arrow keys

Move around within the Navigation Pane


Go to a different folder

F3 or Ctrl-E

Go to the Search box

Alt-Up arrow or Ctrl-, (comma) or Alt-Page Up

In the Reading Pane, go to the previous message

Alt-Down arrow or Ctrl-. (period) or Alt-Page Down

In the Reading Pane, go to the next message

Left arrow or Right arrow

Collapse or expand a folder in the Navigation Pane

Alt-B, Alt-Left arrow

Go back to the previous view in main Outlook window

Alt-Right arrow

Go forward to the next view in main Outlook window


Select the InfoBar and, if available, show the menu of commands

Creating items


Create an appointment


Create a contact


Create a distribution list


Create a fax


Create a folder


Create a Journal entry


Create a meeting request


Create an e-mail message


Create a note


Create a new Microsoft Office document


Post to this folder


Post a reply in this folder


Create a Search Folder


Create a task


Create a task request

E-mail shortcuts


Go to In-box


Go to Out-box

Alt-S or Ctrl-Enter





Reply to a message


Reply all to a message


Forward a message


Forward as attachment


Mark a message as not junk


Display blocked external content (in a message)


Post to a folder


Apply Normal style

Ctrl-M or F9

Check for new messages

Up arrow

Go to the previous message

Down arrow

Go to the next message


Create a new message (when in Mail)


Create a new message (from any Outlook view)


Open a message


Open the Address Book


Add a Quick Flag to an unopened message


Display the Flag for Follow Up dialog box


Mark a message as read


Mark a message as unread


Find or replace in an open message


Find next in an open message


Show the properties for the selected item


Display Send/Receive progress

There are plenty more shortcuts -- you can see the rest at Microsoft's Outlook 2007 site.

This story, "Outlook 2007: 10 top tips" was originally published by Computerworld.

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