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Listen to our Practically Speaking Podcast on Email Tips:
Email communication is effective and efficient in many ways, but we have all experienced moments when our heart skips a beat:
- Did I send that email to the wrong Jason?
- Was that a reply to all?
- Did I forget to attach my attachment?
- Did I attach the wrong attachment?
- Was my tone appropriate?
- Should I have not sent that at all?
None of these second thoughts are welcome experiences in your day. Worse yet, mistakes like these could have serious consequences. You can make easy adjustments to your Outlook email settings to save stress and reduce errors in your email communication.
TIP #1 – DISABLE ADDRESS AUTO FILL
While intended to make email communications more efficient, the address auto fill feature is often to blame for inadvertent privacy breaches when emails are sent to the wrong recipient. It is hard to find someone to whom this has not happened: you type the first few letters and the entire email address conveniently displays for you. When this artificial intelligence chooses incorrectly, it can have serious consequences for lawyers and legal professionals. Email errors may constitute a breach of the confidentiality rules in the Code of Conduct. You may have to report yourself to ALIA or advise your client of your oversight. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to report the breach of privacy to the Alberta Privacy Commissioner under section 34.1 of the Personal Information Protection Act.
And shouldn’t we slow down this email process in any event? You should take time to thoughtfully draft any communication, and email is no exception. Adding the correct email addresses should be the final step of sending any business email. Locating and entering the proper email address does take more time in the moment but will save time and stress in the long run.
You should consider disabling the address auto fill feature on all computers in your office. To disable the feature in Windows:
- In your email browser, click on the File tab.
- Click on Options.
- In the new screen that appears, click on Mail.
- Scroll down until you reach Send Messages.
- Deselect Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, Cc and Bcc lines.
- Select Empty Auto-Complete List.
- Select Yes to confirm.
- Click OK at the bottom of the page to confirm your choices.
The address auto fill feature is less of a problem in Outlook for Macs. When you begin typing an address, a dropdown menu appears with a selection of possible matches. You actively choose the one you want, rather than allowing the computer to choose for you.
TIP #2 – ENABLE A ONE MINUTE DELAY ON OUTGOING MESSAGES
It is rare that your email cannot wait one minute to be delivered. A slight delay will help where you simply change your mind, miss something you meant to add, reconsider to whom you addressed the email, or had an important sober second thought about tone.
Outlook allows users to delay delivery on every email. You can choose any time delay you wish, but a delay of one minute is recommended. Many errors are caught the moment we hit “send”. With the delay feature enabled, your outgoing messages sit in your Outbox for the designated time, and then are delivered and appear in your Sent folder. While the pending email sits in the Outbox folder, you can open the email again, revise it, attach what might be missing, or delete it completely. The email will not be sent until you again press Send and the email moves to your Outbox. The downside is minimal, and the upside is massive.
To enable a delay on sent emails in Windows:
- Click the File tab.
- In the main body of the page, click on the box entitled Manage Rules and Alerts.
- In the first Email Rules tab, click New Rule in the top horizontal line of options.
- From the Step 1 section entitled Start From a Blank Rule, click on Apply Rule on Messages I Send.
- Click Next. This pop-up message will appear: This rule will be applied to every email you send. Is this correct? Click Yes.
- In the Step 1 section, check the Defer Delivery By A Number of Minutes option.
- In the Step 2 section on this page, your action will appear and “a number of” will be underlined. Click there and enter your chosen delay (i.e. one). Click OK, check your correct minutes are showing and click Next.
- You can now check exceptions if you wish (none required). Click Next to proceed.
- The last step is to name your Rule – The One-Minute Delay. Check the Turn On This Rule option.
- Click Finish and OK.
- Run a test. Look for your sent text email in our Outbox for one minute and watch it move to the Sent box when sent.
Microsoft hasn’t made this feature available in Outlook for Macs, but it is possible to delay sending individual messages. To use this feature, you need to have an Office 365 subscription with an Exchange-based account. Unlike the Windows version of Outlook, in Mac time delays the time stamp of the sent email is when you pressed Send (an unfortunate feature).
To delay a message in Mac:
- Open a new email.
- Enter an address in the ‘To’ box.
- Click the little Down Arrow beside the Send button.
- Select Send Later.
- In the drop-down menu, choose the time and date you want the message delivered.
- Click Send.
Written by: Practice Management Department