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Outlook Web Access

Outlook Web Access is part of a program called Microsoft Exchange, which many large and not-so-large organizations run to power advanced Outlook features such as public folders, shared calendars, and assigned tasks.

Not every company that uses Microsoft Exchange offers Outlook Web Access, but if yours does, you can log on to Outlook from nearly anywhere: from a computer at your local public library, an Internet café, or any old photocopy parlor.

There’s nothing difficult about Outlook Web Access; it’s really nothing more than a special web page that looks and acts quite a bit like the version of Outlook you have on your desktop. If your company uses an older version of Microsoft Exchange, Outlook Web Access will look different, but the essential features should be the same.

When Outlook Web Access is handy

The desktop version of Outlook is much more powerful than Outlook Web Access, but you may find it enormously convenient to get access to your Outlook data when you find yourself in certain situations, such as

  • When you don’t want to lug a laptop on a very short business trip just to check your e-mail.

  • When you really do have to work from home now and then, and you don’t want to fuss with getting your home computer connected to the office network.

  • When you want to do some simple planning and collaborating with your office colleagues from someone else’s computer.

  • When you get an e-mail on a mobile device (such as an iPhone, Android, or other smart device) and want to compose a more detailed response than you’d attempt on the tiny thumb keyboard built into those devices.

  • When you need access to your e-mail and other Outlook data from another kind of computer that won’t run Outlook. If you own one of those tiny netbooks or an iPad, you might need to use Outlook Web Access because some netbooks don’t run Microsoft Windows (and neither does the iPad), so they can’t run the regular version of Outlook.

Outlook Web Access lets you dash off a quick answer to an e-mail or put a task on your To-Do list from nearly anywhere you happen to be. That way, details don’t escape you when you're not sitting at your regular computer.

Also, some organizations only offer Outlook Web Access to certain mobile employees who share a computer. That way the company can keep these people connected to the corporate e-mail system without giving a separate computer to every single employee.

How to log on and off Outlook Web Access

Log on to Outlook Web Access the same way that you sign on to any other website: Go to the Internet, enter the address of the page that your organization has set up for logging on to Outlook Web Access, and enter your username and password. The exact steps of the process will differ among organizations, so ask your system administrators for the details.

If you can surf the web, you can use Outlook Web Access. No special equipment is required. As long as you remember your logon name, password, and the address of your Outlook Web Access page, you’re ready to rock. It’s just like online shopping, but it costs less.

When you finish your Outlook Web Access session, log off by clicking the Log Off icon on the right side of the screen. If you’re using a computer in a public place such as an Internet café, you don’t want the next person using that computer to see your private information.

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