Q. I’m just starting to use Outlook as my e-mail tool, and although it’s very good, I’m sure there are ways to make it work even more efficiently. For example, I send e-mails most frequently to three people, yet each time I set up a message, I have to go through the same routine of clicking on New and then finding them in the Contacts section for their address. Is there an easier way?
A. There is, and while the solution I’m going to give you is specific for this task, the underlying technology of the solution can be applied to many other tasks. The goal is to open frequently used files or applications quickly and easily.
The strategy behind the idea is think desktop. Your mostly empty desktop real estate can be transformed into a launching pad for the many things you do on a regular basis. But rather than boring you with a strategy sermon, let’s answer your question and I’m sure you’ll get the point without my lecture.
Go to your desktop and right-click. That will bring up a menu from which you should select New and then Shortcut , which, in turn, will bring up a Create Shortcut menu (see left). (Editor’s note: I am using the XP operating system so the menu screen looks a little different than those in earlier Windows operating systems.)
In the text box, type mailto: and the recipient’s e-mail address. For example: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Notice there are no spaces between the words. Then click on Next and select a name for the shortcut and click on Finish .
You can even choose a special icon for the shortcut by right-clicking on it and going to Properties and then on Change Icon and selecting from the icons available in the menu.
Now when you click on the icon, a blank, fully addressed e-mail to Zarowin is waiting for your further instructions.
Do you get the idea? Using the same process, you can create shortcuts to other things: opening up folders and files—in fact, you can open most anything on your computer right from the desktop with just a click of the mouse.
I try to test shortcuts in two Windows editions: Windows 2000 and XP. As you can imagine, it would be very difficult to test them in every edition, and it would be equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a tip. I apologize for the inconvenience.
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