Outlook Quick Steps in depth

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A quicker way to do some regular tasks in Outlook.

Quick Steps is that big block in the middle of the Outlook 2010 and 2013 Home tab

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%201.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

Quick Steps let you customize and combine Outlook functions into a single click without resorting to VBA. The defaults are meant to be examples of what is possible.

Move to

1. Mark selected message as read

2. Move to the chosen folder

To Manager

1. Forwards message to your manager. Either your ‘manager’ as defined in Exchange Server or a specific person you select.

Team E-mail

1. Forwards message to your team. Either your ‘team’ as defined in Exchange Server or a specific group you select.


1. Marks message as read

2. Marks message flag as complete

3. Moves message to a chosen folder.

Reply and Delete

1. Open up a reply window for the selected message

2. Deletes the original message

Create New

1. A quick link to making your own Quick Steps.

Make a Quick Step

Watch how you work with Outlook and note down any common tasks you do like Forwarding messages to the same person or people or moving messages to folders. Sometimes you can fully automate these using Outlook Rules but more commonly you have to choose the actions on an individual basis for each message.

Once you’ve decided the actions to group together, go to New Quick Step

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%202.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

There’s some simple choices there like ‘Move to Folder’ etc. If one of those suits your needs, or part of them, choose it. All those choices do is fill in some blanks for the next screen, Edit Quick Step. Here’s what you’ll see if you choose ‘Flag and Move …’ then the Options button to see all the choices available:

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%203.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

There are three actions in this Quick Step:

  • Flag Message – adds a flag to message. Select one of the limited options available – Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week etc.
  • Move to Folder – select the destination folder
  • Mark as Read

At bottom is the option to link a quick step to a shortcut key Ctrl + Shift + a number. Also some tooltip text to remind you of what the quick step does or confuse people.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%204.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

New Email Quick Step

Another use for Quick Steps is to pre-populate an email you send regularly. The starter Quick Step ‘New Email to’, click the Options button to see more detail then the ‘Show Options’ link under ‘New Message’ to see everything you can configure:

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%205.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

A New Message made in a Quick Step can be pre-populated with TO, CC and BCC receivers, Subject, Flag, importance and message text (plain text only).

You can use this to save keystrokes and ensure consistency in messages you have to send regularly.

Move Quick Step

Another use for Quick Steps is to move items to another folder or data store. You can use this to move messages to an archive or local store that isn’t affected by Exchange Server storage limits.

For simple moves, a Quick Step may not be required. The Move command (right next to Quick Steps on the same toolbar) includes recently used destinations so all you need to do is choose Move and one of the listed destinations.

Manage your Quick Steps

Right-click on a Quick Step to see some management options like Edit, Duplicate or Delete the Step.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%206.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

Notice the ‘Go to Mailing Lists’ item on the right-click menu? This is a cute trick added by the developers. If the Quick Step includes a Move command, this menu will add a ‘Go to’ link so you can jump to the destination folder (in this case ‘Mailing Lists’.

There’s also a link to the full Manage Quick Steps dialog:

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Quick%20Steps%207.png image from Outlook Quick Steps in depth at Office-Watch.com

Aside from options available elsewhere, you can reorder the Quick Steps using the up/down arrow keys.


Frankly, we don’t think much of Outlook Quick Steps. They are a feature that looks great in limited demos but really doesn’t go far enough.   By all means, give Quick Steps a try, but don’t be surprised if you run into annoyances and limitations.

Just one example is the Flag item which lets you preset to vague terms like ‘This Week’ or ‘Next Week’ but not a number of days from today. This obvious omission make the option useless for many purposes like an alert after 7 or 10 days.

New Message looks great until you realize there’s no Signature, HTML formatting, account nor other choices that would make the feature really good.

There’s no import/export option for Quick Steps, making it harder to share or migrate. Quick Steps are stored in the PST/OST file, making them inaccessible even to power users.

Ideally Quick Steps should be merged with Outlook Rules into a single set of action options. Currently Rules have a trigger event then actions. Outlook would be much better if people could make a set of actions with the rules wizard then select those actions to happen manually. Unfortunately Quick Steps has been made entirely separate from the more powerful Rules features.

As it stands, Quick Steps is a typical ‘tick box’ Microsoft effort.  It lets Microsoft show something in demos and ‘tick the box’ in product comparisons but they haven’t devoted the time or effort in making something customers can really make use of.

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