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Using the Outlook 2003 Inbox to Manage Messages

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In this sample book chapter, you'll learn how to work with E-mail messages, open or save file attachments, use Instant Messaging, send faxes, organize your messages with rules, and block junk e-mail messages.
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You can use the Outlook Inbox folder—as well as the other mail-item folders (Drafts, Outbox, and Sent Items)—to receive, send, and manage email, and send fax messages. Here's how these folders are normally used:

  • Incoming email messages are delivered to your Inbox by a mail account or by an email information service.

  • While you are composing a message, before you send it, it's normally stored in the Drafts folder.

  • When you send a message, it's temporarily stored in the Outbox folder until the next time Outlook connects to the mail server to process outgoing messages, thereby sending it to the recipient. Sometimes messages are transmitted immediately and are stored in your Outbox only briefly, because Outlook connects to your mail server right away to send the outgoing message.

  • A copy of each message you send is normally stored in your Sent Items folder.

In this chapter, you'll learn how to:

  • Receive email messages in your Inbox.

  • Read email messages and open or save file attachments.

  • Use Instant Messaging

  • Send email messages

  • Send fax messages

  • Organize your messages with rules

  • Block junk email


The instructions in this chapter assume that you've already set up your email and fax accounts or information services, as explained in Chapter 1, "Setting Up Outlook 2003," and Appendix A, "Configuring Outlook."

The instructions also assume that you've opened your Inbox or another mail-item folder. (Otherwise, you won't find some of the commands mentioned.)

The different ways to open folders are explained in "Opening an Outlook folder" in Chapter 2, "Getting Started Using Outlook.". Keep in mind that with the initial Outlook setup, the icons for the Inbox , Drafts, Outbox, and Sent Items folders are in the Folder List.

Receiving Email Messages

You can have Outlook automatically receive your email messages from one or more accounts at specified intervals, or you can manually receive them at any time. If you don't set up automatic receiving, then you'll have to receive manually.

The procedure for setting up automatic receiving depends upon whether an email account uses a full-time Internet connection or a dial-up connection. A full-time connection is one that provides access to the Internet at all times, usually through a company local area network (LAN) connected to your computer. A dial-up connection uses a modem in your computer and is typically made only when you are actually exchanging email or accessing an Internet site.

Outlook uses send/receive groups to logically manage mail accounts. Send/receive groups consist of one or more email accounts in any combination (Figure 6.1). This section explains how to use send/receive groups to process messages. See Chapter 12, "Using Advanced Features," to learn how to create, change, and manage send/receive groups.

Figure 6.1Figure 6.1 Send/receive groups control how and when messages are sent.


The different types of connections are described in the section "To add a Mail Account with the Internet Connection Wizard" in Appendix A.

When Outlook receives email messages, it might also transmit outgoing email messages from your Outbox, as described later in the chapter.

To receive email messages automatically for all accounts:

  1. Choose Tools > Options and click the Mail Setup tab in the Options dialog box.

  2. Check the Send/Receive button to display the Send/Receive dialog box.

  3. In the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, highlight the Group Name you want to configure. Check the box Schedule an Automatic Send/Receive Every "number" Minutes. Enter the desired interval in minutes at which you want Outlook to automatically receive your email messages. Then, click Close.

  4. If one or more of your email accounts uses a dial-up connection, check the Automatically Dial During a Background Send/Receive option (Figure 6.2) in the Mail Setup tab. (If you don't check this option, a dial-up account will be skipped when Outlook automatically receives email.)

  5. Figure 6.2Figure 6.2 Selecting options on the Mail Setup tab of the Options dialog box to have Outlook automatically receive your email messages (via a full-time or dial-up account).

  6. Click the OK button.

  7. Outlook will then begin receiving your email messages at the interval you specified (Figure 6.3), automatically dialing your modem for any account that uses dial-up access. It will place any messages you receive in your Inbox folder.

  8. Figure 6.3Figure 6.3 The dialog box that Outlook displays when it's receiving and sending email.


Outlook will automatically receive email only from accounts that have the Include This Account When Receiving Mail or Synchronizing option checked. To access this option, choose Tools > Options, click the Mail Setup tab and click Send/Receive. In the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, select the group name and check the box Include This Group in Send/Receive (F9). Then click Close (Figure 6.4). (This option is enabled by default.)

Figure 6.4Figure 6.4 The Send/Receive Groups dialog box.

If you do not configure an email account to store your password, Outlook will prompt for the password each time it attempts an automatic send/receive. To fully automate the process, direct Outlook to save your password for the account when prompted.

If you are working offline, Outlook will not automatically receive email from an account with full-time Internet access. It will, however, continue to automatically dial up and receive email from an account with dial-up access. To switch between working online and working offline, choose File > Work Offline. When you're working offline, an Offline icon appears at the right end of the status bar and the right end of the System Tray (Figure 6.5).

Figure 6.5Figure 6.5 The Offline icon on the Status bar indicating that you're working online or offline.

If you're working offline and manually receive email messages (as described next), Outlook switches you back to working online temporarily for the Send/Receive process, and then switches back to working offline.

You can also open the Send/Receive Groups dialog box by choosing Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups. You can also press Ctrl+Alt+S to open the dialog box.

To receive email messages manually:

  • To receive email from all your enabled email accounts, click the Send/Receive button on the Standard toolbar, or choose Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive All, or press F9.

  • or

  • To receive email from a specific account (whether or not it's enabled), choose Tools > Send/Receive and then choose the name of the Send/Receive group from the submenu (Figure 6.6).

  • Outlook will then connect with the email account or accounts, and it will place any messages you receive in your Inbox folder.

  • Figure 6.6Figure 6.6 Receiving messages from just the account.

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