Topic outline

  • How to set up and use
    free Outlook email

    In this course, you’ll learn about the free version of Outlook email. You’ll find out how to create a free Outlook account, how it works in your web browser, and how to create, send, receive, reply to and organise your emails.

    The activities below go into detail about how to stay safer when using email, including changing your Outlook password, blocking nuisance emails, and reporting Spam.

    If you are already an Outlook user, there is a handy video of more advanced tips below that you might like to watch. It includes chapters and demonstrations on how to:

    1. pin an email to the top of your Inbox
    2. use the My Day panel and its To Do list
    3. use the Outlook Calendar
    4. use Outlook's Search filters to find emails
    5. create and share sticky notes.


    Welcome to the "Your Outlook Inbox: advanced tips" course. In this course, you'll learn how to pin an email to the top of your Inbox, add an email to your list of daily tasks, and use the sticky notes feature.

    You'll also find out how to use Outlook's search filter to find emails in your Inbox.

    This demonstration uses a Windows computer running the Edge browser. If you use a different device or browser, Outlook might look slightly different, but you should still be able to follow along.

    To follow along, you'll need to visit the Outlook website and sign in securely with your username and password. When the Outlook Inbox is loaded, you are ready to begin.

    You can keep an email at the top of the Inbox where you can easily see it, even if it arrived a long time ago.

    In the left-hand menu, click on Inbox to show a list of emails. In this demonstration, Inbox is already selected. By default, the list is ordered with the newest emails at the top. Check that the Focused tab is selected at the top of the list of emails. When Focused is selected, it will have a blue underline. This will ensure you see the most important messages.

    Find an email from a little while ago and hold your mouse over the email subject. Some icons will appear to the right of the sender's name. The Pin icon looks like a corkboard pin. Click it to pin this email. The pinned email will move to the top of the Focused tab in the Inbox and you'll see a blue version of the Pin icon to the right of the email subject. This lets you know the email is pinned and will always stay at the top of the Inbox, even when you receive new emails.

    To unpin an email, click the blue Pin icon. The email will stay in your Inbox but it won't be at the top of the list anymore. It will return to its original position in the Inbox, ordered by the date it was received.

    You can pin emails in both the Focus tab and the Other tab.

    The free edition of Outlook includes a feature called My Day. The My Day icon is in the top right of the Outlook screen and looks like a calendar with a large tick in front of it. Click it to open the My Day panel.

    This feature helps you stay organised and keeps you aware of monthly and daily commitments and appointments. It has a to-do list and a calendar.

    Click on To Do to open the To Do panel. This feature lets you see a list of tasks or reminders that you can mark off as you complete them. The first time you use the To Do list it won't have any tasks in it so click Add a task and type anything you like. Let's type "Book a venue for family reunion", then press Enter on the keyboard.

    The task will appear in the To Do list. You can also quickly turn an email into a task. This can be handy, because the task will include a link back to the email.

    In our demonstration, we'll create a task from an email we received a few days ago.

    Look at the list of received emails in your Inbox. Choose an email in the list and right click this subject to open the menu. At the very bottom of this menu, place your mouse over Advanced actions. A smaller menu pops up and you can click Create task.

    The My Day panel opens automatically and the subject of the email appears as a new task in your To Do list. Under the task, you'll see an envelope icon and the word Email. You can click this to open the email in a pop-up panel. To close it, click the cross in the top right corner of the pop up.

    Your tasks will be visible in To Do whenever the My Day panel is open.

    Once you've completed a task, you can mark it as done by clicking the white circle to the left of the task. A tick will appear in the circle and after a moment, the task will disappear from the list.

    You can click the cross in the top right to close the My Day panel, but for now, we are going to look at the Calendar features.

    The Outlook Calendar is to the left of To Do in the My Day panel. Click on it. Today's date is highlighted with a coloured circle. Below this, you might see an image of a hot air balloon and some text saying there's nothing planned. This is the Agenda view and after you've filled your Calendar with events and reminders the agenda is useful as a way to get a quick glance at everything you've got coming up this week.

    The Calendar has lots more features, but to see them, you'll need to open the full Calendar view first. At the top right of the My Day panel look for the icon that shows a frame and a square with an arrow pointing up and to the left. Click this and the full calendar will open in the middle of the screen.

    To keep things tidy, let's now close the My Day panel by clicking the cross in the top right corner.

    The Calendar view shows a month and any calendar events or appointments you make this month will show as coloured bars. You can explore the calendar month by month using the up and down arrow controls at the top of the screen.

    To reset the view, click the Today button in the top left. This resets the view and highlights today's date.

    At the top left above the today button are three horizontal lines. Click on them and a compact version of the Calendar will appear with Add calendar below it.

    Click Add calendar, and a pop up will appear. Along the left side of the pop up is a menu with options for adding calendars and it's worth exploring these. For now, click the cross on the top right of the pop up to close it and return to the Calendar view.

    To return to the Inbox, look for the Inbox icon at the top left of the screen. It looks like a small blue envelope. Click it to return to the Inbox.

    You can find emails in your Outlook mailbox by using Outlook's Search bar. This is similar to your browser's main search bar but it appears a bit lower in the browser panel at the very top of the Outlook web page. Click on the Search bar and type in your search query. In our demonstration, we'll type "Ringo reunion" to search for emails from a sender called Ringo about an upcoming family reunion. Press Enter on your keyboard to search.

    Outlook will display a list of emails that contain the words you searched for. To see all emails in your Focused Inbox once more, click on Inbox in the top left menu.

    If you are having trouble finding a particular email you might have more luck searching for it with Outlook search filters. Click on the Outlook Search bar and it will turn white. The search filter icon is at the right of the Search bar and looks like three horizontal lines of various lengths. Click it to open the search filter options.

    Click the white space next to From and type the name of the person who sent the email you are looking for. As you start typing their name, Outlook may suggest the contact it thinks you're typing. If this is the contact you're after, click it. Click the white space next to subject and type the subject of the email you're searching for. If you know that the email you're looking for has something attached, you can select the tick box next to attachments. This means that Outlook will only search for emails with at least one file attached. When you're done, click this Search button and Outlook will search your Inbox for the email you are looking for.

    In this demonstration, Outlook has found one email that matches all our search filters so it appears here as a search result. If this is the email you're looking for you can click on it to open and read it.

    When you're ready, click Inbox in the top left menu to return to your Inbox.

    Outlook lets you write quick sticky notes which can be handy for keeping track of things. In the menu on the left side of the screen, look for Notes. Click it to open the Notes view.

    At the top of the panel above the left menu, click New note. Two panels will appear to the right of the menu with Take a note... written in each.

    The panel on the left is a preview of your sticky note and the panel to the right is the note itself.

    Click on the panel to the right and start typing. The panel on the left updates with new text as you type it.

    To start a second note, click the New note button again. A second note preview will appear above the first and the main note panel is cleared of text, like flipping over to a new page in a notepad.

    To see your first note again, click its preview in the left column.

    The new note preview will disappear since we didn't add anything to it. The panel on the right shows the text of the first note again and you can edit this text if need be.

    You can also add a picture to a note. Look for the insert picture icon, which looks like a mountain landscape. Click it and an Explorer window will open. Find the picture you want to add to your note. Click the picture to select it and click Open. The Explorer panel will close and the image will appear in your note.

    Let's look at how to share a note in an email. Click the three dots in the top right of the Note panel. From the menu that appears, choose Copy to clipboard.

    Next, click Inbox in the left menu to return to the Inbox.

    Click the New mail button and a new blank email will appear to the right of the list of emails.

    Right click in the white space under the Subject field. From the menu that appears, click Paste and your note will be copied into the email.

    You can add more text here if you want before sending your email.

    You've learned how to pin an email, add tasks and use calendars. You've also learned how to add notes to Outlook and use its search filters.

    If you are unsure about any steps, you can rewind the video or click the chapter headings to jump to the start of a chapter.

    If you are ready to move on, there are many other courses to explore on Be Connected.