Outlook 2007: 10 top tips

From speeding up attachment previews to integrating social network updates, these tips will help you get the most out of Outlook 2007.

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Speed up attachment previews

One of Outlook 2007's niftier new features is its ability to let you preview Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and other files when you're reading mail without having to open the attachment itself. To do that, you highlight the file, then click the "Preview file" button.

You can make files from specific senders preview automatically without going through those steps. For each person whose attachments you want to preview this way, right-click on an e-mail from the person, select Junk E-Mail from the menu that appears, and choose Add Sender to Safe Senders List. The next time the person sends you a file you want to preview, highlight it and uncheck the box next to "Always warn before previewing this type of file." From now on, you'll preview this type of attachment from this sender as soon as you highlight it.

Give your older .pst file new life in Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007, like earlier versions of Outlook, stores all of your e-mail as well as other important information in a .pst file named Outlook.pst. Normally the file is found in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. Back when Outlook 2003 was released, Microsoft changed the .pst file format, with one important benefit -- .pst files would no longer be subject to a limit of 2GB. In Outlook 2003 and 2007, the limit is now 20GB.

Pre-2003 versions of Outlook cannot open files in the new .pst format, but Outlook 2003 and 2007 can open the older .pst file format. So even if you have Outlook 2007, you may be using an older .pst file if you used a previous version of Outlook.

There is one serious drawback to using an older .pst file with Outlook 2007 -- it is subject to the same maximum file size of 2GB. There's no direct way to automatically convert an older .pst file to the new Outlook .pst format. Still, with a little bit of fiddling, it can be done.

First, determine whether the .pst file is in the older or newer format. To do that, follow these steps:

1. In Outlook, select File --> Data File Management.

2. Click the Data Files tab and select the .pst file you're interested in.

3. Click Settings to open the Personal Folders dialog box.

A .pst file in the older Outlook format
A .pst file in the older Outlook format.

4. Look in the Format field. If it reads "Personal Folders File (97-2002)," it means you have a .pst file in the older format. If it reads "Personal Folders File," you have a newer .pst file.

If in doing this you see you are using an older .pst file, you can use a work-around to convert it to the newer format. (You can close the Personal Folders box; we're done with it now.)

You'll first create a blank .pst file in the new format, then import the information from the old file into the new one:

1. In Outlook's main menu, select File --> New --> Outlook Data File.

2. On the screen that appears, select Office Outlook Personal File Folder (.pst) and click OK.

3. From the screen that appears, give the new file a file name and choose the location where you want it stored. By default, Outlook will choose where your other .pst files are stored, which by default in Windows 7 or Vista is C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and in Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 is \Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.

4. From the screen that appears, type a name into the Name box -- this is the name for the file that Outlook will display. Click OK. You've just created the new file in the .pst format. Now you're going to import the data from the old .pst file.

5. Select File --> Import and Export.

6. Select "Import from another program or file," then click Next.

7. From the screen that appears, select Personal Folder File (.pst).

8. A screen will appear asking for the location and name of the file you want to import. Browse to the location of the old .pst file and click Open.

9. You'll be back on the screen asking for the location and name of the file you want to import. Choose "Replace duplicates with items imported" and click Next.

10. From the screen that appears, click on the display name of the file you want to import and click Finish. Outlook will now import all of the data from the old .pst file to the new one, which has a 20GB size limit.

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