If you respond to many emails in the same way, use Microsoft Outlook’s Quick Steps feature to respond with a quick click.
If you’re on the front lines of your organization, you probably receive a lot of messages that aren’t going anywhere. For example, you may receive regular emails asking about job openings. If your company isn’t hiring, answering each request manually can quickly become tedious for you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just click a button and have Outlook respond with a generic reply and then delete the message?
In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the Outlook Quick Steps feature to send an auto reply and then delete the message you are replying to. I use Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use earlier versions up to and including Outlook 2013. Outlook Mail (online) does not support Quick Steps.
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What is a quick step in Outlook?
The Quick Steps feature allows you to set up actions that Outlook performs when they are called. You can apply multiple actions to the same quick step. You can choose a template or create a custom quick step.
There are several types of Quick Steps templates:
- Move to folder: Use this quick step to move the selected message to a specific folder.
- Flag & Move: This quick step sets a specific flag and then moves the selected message to a specific folder.
- New email to: Use this quick step to automate a message to the same person.
- Forward to: Use this quick step to forward the selected message to a specific person.
- New meeting: With this quick step, you can set up a common meeting message that you can reuse.
- Amended: Use this quick step when none of the above options apply.
Start a quick step in Outlook
To use any of the templates mentioned above, click the Home tab and then click the More button in the Quick Steps Gallery in the Quick Steps group. From the drop-down list, choose New Quick Step, then select the appropriate template.
When you create a custom quick step, you start a new quick step by clicking the Home tab and then Create New (Image A), in the Quick Steps gallery. As you add new steps, Outlook displays them in the same list. As the list grows, clicking the More button may be faster than scrolling through the step list.
Define a quick step to reply to a message in Outlook
Now let’s make a quick step that sends a generic message to the sender of the selected message. After you click Create New, Outlook opens the dialog shown in Figure B.
You can also choose Custom from the list of templates. Give the quick step a meaningful name, such as Answering and Deleting Employment Requests. Then choose Reply from the Actions drop-down list. Click the Show options link to open more options and enter the message in the text control (Figure C).
This quick step only requires the generic text message, because the Reply action populates the To control with the sender’s email address. There is no reason to change the subject text, but you can. You can also set a flag, enter cc and bcc addresses, and delay the message for a minute. For this example, we don’t need to set any of those options, but we’re not done yet.
We also want to delete the selected post after we respond to it. To add this action, click Add Action and choose Delete Message from the drop-down list.
This takes care of the actual answering and deleting of the task. But there are two more things you may want to do:
- To set a hotkey, select a combination from the Hotkey drop-down list.
- Enter a helpful message in the Tooltips Text control (Figure D).
When everything is ready, click Finish.
How to use the new quick step in Outlook
Most likely, you don’t want to test this new quick step on a message currently in your inbox. If so, send yourself a test message and get started. Click that test message in your Inbox, then click the Home tab. In the Quick Steps Gallery (Digits E), click the Quick Step Reply and Delete Applications.
Outlook opens the reply message displayed in Figure F. At this point you can insert additional content, but not in this case. Click Submit and that’s it. When you return to the Inbox, the message is gone.
Outlook’s Quick Steps feature is an easy way to automate common email tasks. While the quick step made in this article is simple, the feature plans to do bigger things. Spend some time exploring so you can take full advantage of this feature.