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April 4, 2013

Email overload? 6 tricks for powering through your inbox on Windows Phone 8

For better or worse, I spend a lot of time on my phone dealing with work email. As a result, I’m always looking for ways to do things a little quicker so I can get back to using my phone for things that are, shall we say, a little more fun.

Today I want to pass on a couple of mobile email time savers I’ve discovered along the way.

1. Find attachments faster

Looking for an Office doc someone emailed you a couple of months ago? Happens to me all the time. Rather than digging through my inbox, I just go to the Office Hub, tap Email (under Places), and then tap the document. One catch—for an attachment to show up in this list, you’ll need to have opened it before.


2. Multi-select your mail

I wade through lots of long conversation threads throughout the workday. Luckily, Windows Phone has a handy way to manage these. I just tap the left edge of the screen by the first message and a set of handy pre-selected check boxes appear next to the rest of the messages in the thread. I can clear the check boxes for any mails I want to keep, and then move or delete the rest with a tap or two.


3. Talk don’t type

At the end of a long day, tapping out those last few emails can be tough. So sometimes I give my thumbs a break and dictate the message instead. After replying to a mail or addressing a new one, I simply tap the Speak icon and say what I need to say.


4. Power search your inbox

The other day I was heading home on the bus, flicking through my inbox trying to find an old email from a coworker. No luck.

So I got serious and tried some of the Outlook search queries I use on my PC. From my inbox, I tapped the Search icon, typed from:”Michael Stroh”, then tapped the Search more link. Up popped a bunch of messages, including the exact one I wanted.

There are a lot of different queries you can try. Here’s a handy cheat sheet I found. Many were new to me, and quite a few worked on my phone. Here’s another hint for power searching your inbox: Tap the Refine icon on the results screen to further narrow your search to a specific date range or folder.

5. Create and sync custom folders

Fighting inbox bloat is a constant battle. One trick I use is creating custom folders and then diverting certain kinds of email (discussion groups and other lower-priority stuff I eventually want to read) to these new folders using rules, a feature of both the desktop and web versions of Outlook (shown below). On my long bus ride home I use my phone to catch up on all these diverted messages.

To do this, you’ll need to sync custom folders to your phone. From your inbox, tap open the More (…) menu. Then tap Folders > Show all folders, and tap the custom folder you want to sync. You can also pin a folder to Start by tapping Pin to start from the More (…) menu. That way, you can open it with just one tap.


6. Download more mail

And finally, for those rare (sarcasm alert!) times when I’m running a little behind on email and need to try to catch up, I change the sync settings so my phone downloads older messages that I haven’t dealt with yet. Go to your inbox then tap More (…) > Settings > Sync settings > Download email from > The last month.

I hope these tips helped. Don’t forget you can learn about the basics of email on Windows Phone from our how-to site. And if you have a question or tip of your own you’d like to share, make sure to leave me a comment.