Time-saving tips: Pin items in Windows and use email signatures in Outlook

Learning a few easy shortcuts will enable you to work smarter, not harder, with Microsoft Office products. Today we’ll focus on two tips that cut time from some of your most frequent tasks. First, we’ll learn how to pin items in Windows to allow you to access your most-used documents and programs with a click. Then, we’ll explore Outlook’s signatures function to quickly insert frequently-used text into a new message without having to retype or search previous emails.

Pin Items in Windows Taskbar and Recent Documents List

How often do you find yourself drilling into folders to find the same document that you access frequently? With Microsoft Office products versions 2007-2013 and Office 365, you can pin your documents to lock them in place.

In most Microsoft applications, the File tab displays a list of most recently opened documents. In Excel, Access, and PowerPoint, the most recent documents list opens automatically when you select the File tab. In Word, the recent list of documents is found under Open on the File tab.

To Pin Items to the Recent List:

pin items in windows

  • In the Recent list, hover over a document you open frequently.
  • A pushpin will appear to the right of the document name along with the path location.
  • Click on the pushpin icon.

pin items in windows
The pinned document will remain at the top of the Recent list until unpinned. Once an item is unpinned it will return to the rolling list of recently opened documents and will eventually drop off unless reopened.

To Pin Items in Your Operating System

You also have the ability to pin frequently used documents directly on the taskbar of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

pin items in windows
The default location of the Task bar is at the bottom in both OS versions. Every application contains a jumplist. This is a list of recent documents that you can access quickly by right-clicking on any application on the taskbar.

pin items in windows
Follow the same process above to pin items in Windows’ jumplist:

  • In the Recent list, hover over the document you wish to pin
  • A push pin will appear to the right of the document name along with the path location
  • Click on the push pin icon

Note: By default the jumplist will hold a rolling count of 10 documents for each application.

Outlook Email Signatures

Email signatures are a popular tool to present a block of data in the closing of emails, preventing the need to retype the same information in every email. Many users will employ common signoffs such as “Sincerely,” or “Thank you,” along with their contact information (generally, full name; title; company name; and phone number).

Outlook provides options to create multiple signatures. So what is the purpose of having multiple signatures?

  • Maybe you have multiple titles and would like to choose which to display depending on the content of your message.
  • Perhaps you want a specific closing for internal vs. external emails, or for formal vs. informal communications.
  • You can use signatures that contain templates—any document, content, or even blocks of text that you have already created—to insert content into your document quickly without having to locate, cut, and paste the information. With the understanding of templates, you can take your email signatures to a new level.

For routine correspondence, users often find it easier to copy a previous email than to retype the same information. Generally, when the user has sent an email and wants to send similar content to another recipient, he or she will search the sent box for the previous email, copy the text, then change a few variables to reuse the content. For many types of correspondence, the process continues as the user needs to resend that same email over and over.

Any text that you use frequently can become a signature. In the example below, the signature contains the email’s full body—requiring you to personalize the message when you use this signature template. In the example below I have highlighted the text that would require updates within my message. (Note that this type of signature is great for form letters that you send on demand or individually. A mail merge would be a better tool for frequent use to multiple individuals.)

Create an Email Signature

  1. Create the text that you would like to save as a new signature. The best way to do this is to open a new email and type into the body of the message.

pin items in windows

  1. Select all the text in the document, including any actual signature at the bottom if desired.
  2. Copy the text (Ctrl-c).
  3. On the Message tab of the new email, select Signature, then select Signatures to open the Signatures and Stationery box that allows you to manage all of your signatures.

pin items in windows

  1. Select New to create a new signature and name the signature relevant to its’ purpose.
  2. Paste the copied text (Ctrl-v) into the signature box. You may continue to edit the text within this box.
  3. Adjust default signature, if needed. If you will not be using the new template as your default signature, then do not adjust this portion.

pin items in windows

  1. Select OK

Apply your Email Signature

Now that you have added your email signatures, you are now ready to begin to use them. You can toggle them easily from within any email.

  1. Open a new email.
  2. Go to the Signature button on the Message tab of the new email.
  3. Select the signature that contains the text you want to use.
  4. Adjust any variable information as needed. After adding the signature text, you may continue to alter the message as normal.
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