What Is Outlook? - dummies

By Peter Weverka

Outlook isn’t in character with the rest of the Office programs. It’s a little different in that what you see onscreen changes when you click a Navigation button on the bottom of the Outlook window. Click a Navigation button — Mail, Calendar, People, Tasks, Notes, Folders, or Shortcuts — and you go to a different Outlook window altogether.

Outlook 2019 serves many purposes. To wit, Outlook is all this:

  • An email program: You can use it to send and receive email messages and files, as well as organize email messages in different folders so that you can keep track of them.
  • An appointment scheduler: Outlook is a calendar for scheduling appointments and meetings. You can tell at a glance when and where you’re expected, be alerted to upcoming appointments and meetings, and invite coworkers to meetings.
  • An address book: The application can store the addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of friends, foes, clients, and family members. Looking up this information in the Contacts folder is easy.
  • A task reminder: Outlook is a means of planning projects. Use Outlook’s task reminders to keep you on track. You can tell when deadlines fall and plan your workload accordingly.
  • A notes receptacle: This part of the program is a place to jot down notes and reminders.

Do you need Outlook?

Before you penetrate the mysteries of Outlook, ask yourself whether you need the application. If you don’t receive volumes of email, your calendar isn’t crowded, and the office where you work doesn’t require you to use Outlook, consider using an email program that isn’t as cumbersome as Outlook, or better yet, consider using a web-based email program.

Outlook is good at organizing email so that you can find and reply to messages quickly. It is good at handling volumes of email. Outlook can help you manage schedules and coordinate meetings with coworkers. It can help you keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there.

On the minus side, however, Outlook has many more features than most people need, and all these features clutter Outlook and make it hard to use. What’s more, email messages are kept on your computer. Unless you carry around a laptop, you have to be at your home or office computer to collect your email. With a web-based email program, messages are stored on a server on the Internet, and all email activity — composing, sending, and receiving messages — is accomplished through a web browser. You can be in Timbuktu and still collect your email if you can find a computer with an Internet connection. You don’t have to be at home or at the office to read your email.

If web-based emailing appeals to you, ask your Internet service provider whether it offers a web-based email service. Or check out Google Mail, which is free and easy to use. Google Mail offers a calendar and other amenities as well as emailing. If you want to keep it simple and you can manage to do that, steer clear of Outlook.

If you work in a corporate environment, get a copy of Outlook 2019 For Dummies, by Faithe Wempen and Bill Dyszel. It describes the ins and outs of using Outlook in a business setting.