Microsoft Outlook: The quick step

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: I have tried to establish a set of Outlook rules that would forward emails automatically, but there seems to be no consistent pattern in the subject or body of these emails that would consistently trigger the correct rule. Can you think of a workable approach I might try?

A: Outlook has a Quick Steps feature that allows you to automate several tasks as a single task. For example, you might set up two Quick Steps labeled Problems and Accolades, each of which moves the email messages to the appropriate folder and then forwards them to the appropriate individuals. To set up a Quick Step in Outlook 2013, from the Home tab's Quick Steps group, select Create New, enter a suitable name in the Name box (Accolades in this example), click the Add Action button and from the Choose an Action dropdown, select Move to folder. In the next dropdown box, select the desired destination folder. (I've selected the Happy Customers folder in this example). Next, I added actions to forward the email to three company personnel and also to categorize the message with the Green Category. To complete the setup process, I assigned a shortcut key (Ctrl+Shift+4 in this example) and provided tooltip text to remind me of the Quick Step's functionality.

Repeat the above steps to create as many Quick Steps as necessary. In the future, as email messages arrive, you can easily select the message and use the appropriate predefined Quick Step to efficiently move, color-code, and forward each message to the appropriate recipients.


About the author

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor. Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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