Center For Practice Management, Email Management, Microsoft Office, Tip of the Month

Outlook Life Savers

You use email every day. If you use Microsoft’s Outlook for email you have a lot of power built into the program. Following are a few tips for finding email attachments quickly, save .msg files and rename them, surface a folder you might have deleted or lost, how to use the Dictate tool if you want to be hands free, and how the Search bar does more than just search.

Finding Email Attachments Everywhere

You have documents attached to emails in your inbox, Sent folder, and in your other folders. You may do a great job of saving them to the correct folder in your document management/file server/law practice management application/cloud storage. Or not. If you need to see every single attachment to every single email and which folder that email is in you can do that easily in Microsoft Outlook if you are running the Exchange server (on premise or hosted).

In the Outlook client software installed on your desktop scroll down through the folder list until you see “Search Folders”. Right click on Search folder- New search folder – Mail with attachments. Now you will see a subfolder under Search Folders called “With Attachments”. If you click on this Outlook sets up a search to find emails with attachments in any folder. You can right click on the With Attachments search folder and “Add to Favorites” so it appears at the top of your folders for ease of access.  The results show you the emails including the column “In Folder” so you will know where the email is stored.

In Outlook through the browser for MS 365 users there are no Search folders. However, if you click on the attachment icon (which looks like a paperclip) in the far-left column it lists all the emails with attachments and shows which folder the email lives in. At the top of the page, you will see a Filter option. You can filter by Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, images and more, or restrict the results to a date range.

To make sure to save attachments to the correct place as you receive them in email, open the email and mouse over the attachments and choose “Save all attachments” to save them to your folder structure.

Save Emails as .MSG Files

Using Adobe Acrobat’s Outlook or Kofax Power PDF plugins you can save emails and folders to PDF, as well as auto-archive. However, if you may want to save the emails as .msg files in File Explorer. Michael Dew, a former engineer and litigator in Canada and an ICYMI subscriber sent the following video and macro embedded Excel spreadsheet. In this video demonstration he shows how you can drag emails to Windows File Explorer to save them. What is important here is that he also provides the tools to easily batch rename the files. By default, the email .msg files are saved with the name of the file as the subject line and the date displayed as the date you saved the messages. His instructions and spreadsheet show you how to easily convert the file names to date/time/sender/subject. This could be handy for discovery or moving email correspondence out of Outlook. Remember that to open a .msg file you will need to be running MS Outlook.

Dictate Your Emails in Outlook

There are a lot of ways to dictate (and create transcriptions) in MS Word, but what about in MS Outlook? You can dictate an email from opening a new message, addressing it, adding texts, lists, math, emojis, and more.  You need to know the commands and have a decent headset or microphone.

You can also dictate in the browser version of Outlook and if you have the Outlook app on your smartphone you can dictate emails on iOS and Android. The mail commands are essentially the same as those for the email client on your desktop. Dictate is only available for Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Finding a Misplaced Outlook Folder

Even though current versions of MS Outlook tell you if you are moving or deleting a folder, if you are in a hurry, it is still easy and possible to move a folder under another folder and sometimes finding it can be frustrating and time consuming. This tutorial from ExtendOffice provides several ways to help you unearth a folder that has gone missing. The instructions on finding it with the search and browser feature is probably the one that will work best for most lawyers, and it requires that you can remember something – a send, a subject, a keyword – that is in an email in that folder. If you can do that you can follow these steps EXACTLY to find the folder you are missing.

Outlook Search Bar

The Outlook search bar searches not only emails, but for actions and help as well. If you want to change your Signature block just type in “Signature” and it will simultaneously look for the word in your email and provide a link to the tools to edit and update your Signature block. You need not remember or spend the time going to File – Options – Mail – Signatures. Similarly, if you want to create a new rule, just type “Rule” into the Search bar. Or most anything you want to do that is an action in Outlook.

If you wan to customize the search type in Search in the search bar and under Actions mouse over Search Tools and click Search Options. You can change the default search from Current Folder to All Mailboxes, include deleted items in the search results, highlight search terms in the resources and more.


MS Outlook is a sophisticated tool. As long as you may have used it there is always more to learn.