November 02, 2010, 12:05 PM — Microsoft's Outlook 2011 ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) isn't just the same old Entourage 2008 e-mail program repackaged with a sleek new surface. From consolidated inboxes to Quick Look support, there are just as many improvements under the hood as there are on the surface. But despite the redesign, Microsoft made sure to retain many of the bonuses and shortcuts that made Entourage a power user tool. Here are some favorites you might have missed:
1. Keyboard shortcut savvy
Like Entourage, Outlook lets you access many options directly from your keyboard. Some keyboard shortcuts have changed (see our Outlook 2011 keyboard shortcut cheat sheet), but many haven't, including such gems as Shift-Command-O, which quickly reveals all unread messages. Make sure you're taking advantage of these useful ones:
Flag your messages When you've selected a message from your mail list, Control-1 through Control-4 will flag it for a follow-up today, tomorrow, this week, or next week.
Hide or reveal the viewing pane Command-\ (back slash) shows or hides the viewing pane to the right of the message list. Command-Shift-\ (back slash) shows or hides it below the message list.
Sending shortcuts To reply to a message, select it in the message list and press Command-R. To forward a message, press Command-J. When you're done composing a message, press Command-Return to send it.
2. Trash on a schedule
Plagued by warnings that your e-mail account is over its size limit? Let Outlook take out the trash for you. Under Tools -> Run Schedule -> Edit Schedules, you can tell Outlook when to empty your Deleted Items folder, whether that's every hour, every week, or just every time you quit the program.
3. A custom calendar
Not everyone works from nine to five. Under Preferences -> Calendar, you can specify what days of the week you work, and for what hours. And since it never hurts to know when you can expect your next day off, Outlook will automatically add holidays for the U.S. and other countries to your calendar. You'll find that feature under File -> Import; just select Holidays from the list that appears.