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By now, you should be familiar with @outlook.com email addresses. They have been part of the Microsoft landscape since 2013.
Of course, users with an Outlook address can use a desktop email client to read their messages, but the primary way of accessing the service is through the Outlook web app.
The web app forms the basis for this article. There’s far more to it than meets the eye. If you spend the time to learn about all its features, you can almost entirely eradicate the need for a desktop client.
Here are seven hidden Outlook.com features you probably didn’t know about.
1. Send Money Through PayPal
PayPal isn’t without its detractors. Compared with some of its competitors, it’s slow, expensive, and restrictive. However, it remains the most-used online payment provider. In mid-2017, the service boasted more than 200 million active accounts.
Because of its uptake levels, it’s still the easiest non-bank way to send money to another person or business.
If you want to send money on PayPal, but you’d rather avoid the difficult-to-navigate website, why not install the PayPal add-in? The app opens within the Outlook.com page and lets you send money to anyone in your address book. You can even make payments as you’re drafting an email.
Go to the add-in’s listing in the Office Store and click Add to get started. You can also go to Gear icon > Options > General > Manage add-ins > + in the Outlook web app.
2. Change Primary Alias
If you use Outlook.com, you should already know about aliases. They allow you to create multiple @outlook.com email addresses, all of which are accessible through one login and arrive in one inbox. You can also use any of them as a “From” address.
But did you know you can change which of your many aliases is your primary alias? And did you know you can even set up your account so you can use several of your email aliases as the login address for your Microsoft Account?
To change your primary alias, go to Options > Accounts > Connected Accounts > Email aliases > Manage or choose a primary alias. On the next screen, click Make primary next to your choice.
On the same screen, you can select Change sign-in preferences to select which email aliases are valid logins.
3. Sweep Emails
Do you practice “Inbox Zero”? If you do, you can skip over this section. Everyone else, listen up.
Outlook offers an email sweep feature that helps keep your inbox (relatively) clutter-free. The feature can be used in several ways. For example, you can get the sweep to delete any promotional emails whose special deal runs out after a certain number of days. Or you can ask it to delete any email messages from social media accounts once per month.
But how does it work?
To set up a sweep rule, you first need to locate and open an email you want to apply the rule to. In the example below, I’m going to set up a sweep for spam emails from TuneIn Radio.
Next, in the header at the top of the page, click Sweep.
In the popup box, make your choices regarding frequency and content, then click Sweep again.
To manage the Sweep rules you have created, go to Options > Mail > Inbox and sweep rules.
4. Customize Quick Actions
Quick Actions are the small icons you see popup alongside an email’s subject when you’re looking at your inbox and hover the mouse over a message. It’s possible to customize the icons, thus letting you put the shortcuts you use most often right at your fingertips.
There are four slots available, and seven actions to choose from. The actions are: Delete, Mark as read or unread, Flag, Archive, Move to folder, Pin, and Nothing.
To make your choices, go to Options > Mail > Layout > Quick actions and select your preferences from the drop-down menu.
5. Change the Theme
Much like Gmail, the Outlook.com web app has lots of new themes you can choose from. They can help to inject some color into what is otherwise a somewhat dour-looking app.
To change Outlook’s theme, go to Options > General > Change theme. You will notice several themes are available: some are pictures and cartoons, some just offer different colors or tones. Make your pick, then click Save at the top of the page.
Oddly, there’s no way to download third-party themes from the Office Store. It seems like a feature Microsoft should consider introducing.
6. Share Facebook Photos
Despite the obvious privacy implications, some people feel obligated to share every aspect of their life on Facebook in photographic form.
But alas, I’m not here to debate the moral argument of Facebook photos. If you’re a Facebook addict, you just need to know that Outlook now makes it easier than ever to share your photos via email. To begin, you need to connect your two accounts together.
Although it’s a bit counterintuitive, you’ll find the setting in Storage accounts along with services like Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
To access the menu, navigate to Options > Mail > Attachment options > Storage accounts. Click on the Facebook link and follow the onscreen prompts.
To attach a Facebook photo, start composing a new email, click on the Attach button, and choose Facebook on the next screen.
7. Outlook Light
No, this isn’t another variation on themes. Outlook Light is a completely separate version of the web app.
It’s designed for people with slow internet connections, old browsers and/or computers, and people with accessibility needs.
Here are some of the key differences:
- The Light app is HTML-based
- Offline access is unavailable on Light
- Light does not let you access multiple Exchange accounts
- It cannot send read receipts
- Light does not have a reading pane
- There are no sound effects
- Groups are unavailable
To enable Outlook Light, go to Options > General > Light Version and mark the checkbox next to Use the Light version of Outlook.com.
Your Favorite Outlook.com Features?
In this article, we’ve introduced you to seven hidden features in Outlook.com. They are:
- Send money through PayPal
- Change your primary alias
- Create sweep rules
- Customize your Quick Actions
- Change the theme
- Share Facebook photos
- The Light version of the app
But Outlook.com is so complicated that we’re sure you’ve stumbled across many other hidden features and neat tricks. Now we want to hear about them.
As always, you can leave all your suggestions and ideas in the comments below.