How to Enable Gmail’s Hidden Email Preview Pane

Dual-pane view in Gmail on the web

Gmail has a hidden preview panel that gives you a dual-pane view of your emails—just like in Outlook and other desktop email clients. Here’s how to enable it on the web and choose a horizontal or vertical split.

First, head to your Gmail inbox. Click the Settings cog and then click “Settings.”

The Settings option in Gmail

Choose the “Advanced” tab.

The Advanced Settings tab

The Preview Pane option is towards the bottom. Choose “Enable” and then click “Save Changes.”

Preview Pane radio buttons

You’ll be taken back to the Inbox, where a new “Toggle split pane mode” button will be visible next to the Settings cog.

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How to Customize the To-Do Pane in Outlook

outlook logo

The Outlook client comes with several different panes that you can show and hide. These include panes that you see by default, like the Navigation pane and others that you might not be familiar with, like the To-Do and People panes. Here’s how to customize the To-Do pane.

Enable the To-Do Pane

The To-Do pane isn’t visible by default, so first, we need to show it by clicking View > To-Do Bar.

on the view menu, click the to do bar button

In the above screenshot, you can also see the Folder Pane, Reading Pane, and People Pane options. A pane is a “section of a window that provides the user with additional information or quick access to features commonly used in a software program,” and it’s common terminology in programming and user interface design. Why the To-Do pane is labeled as “To-Do Bar” we have no idea, as Microsoft themselves call it a pane in their documentation.

So to stay consistent, we’ll be referring to it as a pane as well.

The To-Do Pane Options

Clicking View > To-Do Bar will display four options: Calendar, People, Tasks, and Off.

to-do bar options

  • Calendar shows the current month and your upcoming appointments.
  • People shows the contacts that you’ve marked as Favorites.
  • Tasks shows your Outlook tasks in due date order.

You can choose to display the Calendar, People, Tasks item, a combination of two of these, or all three. They all exist in the To-Do pane, which sits in the right-hand side of Outlook.

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Microsoft is Getting Rid of Clutter in Outlook, and That’s Worrying

outlook logo

At the tail-end of 2018, Microsoft announced that it would remove the Clutter feature from Outlook, leaving Focused Inbox to sieve out your less-important mail. We think that’s a potentially worrying change of direction for Microsoft.

Yes, on the one hand, you could argue that Focused Inbox competes directly with similar features offered by Gmail and that those only work in the Gmail client, so why not do it. But, you could also argue that, since Outlook has had both the Focused Inbox and Clutter features for a while (and they both have their advantages), there was no really good reason to ditch Clutter. So, let’s get into it.

What is the Clutter Feature?

We’ve covered the difference between Clutter and Focused Inbox before, but here’s a quick recap. Both Clutter and Focused Inbox are ways of splitting your incoming mail into “important” and “unimportant” mail. Important mail is anything from people in your company, your contacts, and anything else Microsoft’s algorithm deems valuable to you. Unimportant mail is not spam (that goes into the Junk folder) but is mail that is deemed less valuable or urgent—like regular emails from apps or websites.

Clutter and Focused Inbox use the same algorithm to determine if a mail is important or unimportant, but here’s the important part: Clutter is an entirely separate folder, whereas Focused Inbox is just a filtered view of your Inbox.

What this means is that Clutter physically moves an unimportant mail from your Inbox into a folder called “Clutter.”

The Clutter folder

Focused Inbox—which you can toggle on and off using a switch in the View tab—just changes your Inbox to show “Focused” and “Other” tabs.

The Focued Inbox tabs

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How to Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication for All Users of Your Office 365 Subscription

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Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a great security tool, and we always recommend it. Office 365 admins can enforce MFA for users, which means you can help protect anyone sharing your Office 365 business subscription.

To do this you’ll need to be an Office 365 administrator, which only happens with a business plan. If your Office 365 subscription comes as part of a domain hosting package, then you’ll have access to the Admin console. However, if you’ve just purchased a personal subscription (or home subscription for your family), then you won’t have access to the Admin console, and you can only turn MFA on for yourself. If you’re not sure, click the Office 365 app launcher and look for the Admin tile.

The Admin tile on the O365 app launcher

If it’s there, you’ve got access to the Admin console. Click the Admin tile, and on the menu on the left-hand side click Settings > Services and add-ins.

The "Services & add-ins" option in the Admin menu

This opens the Services and add-ins page, where you can make various tenant-level changes. One of the top items will be “Azure multi-factor authentication.”

The "Azure multi-factor authentication" option

Click this, and on the panel that opens on the right, click “Manage multi-factor authentication.”

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How To Contact Microsoft Office 365 Support

Office 365 Logo

If you’ve got an Office 365 subscription, then there might be times you need help from Microsoft. Here’s how to log a ticket from a client app, from a web app, or through your Office 365 account.

All of these methods will create a ticket that goes to Microsoft support, but whichever way you log a ticket, you’ll need to be online.

Note: At the moment the Office 365 mobile apps will take you to the help and support pages, but there’s no direct method to create a support ticket. You can click around the help site until you find a link to a support page, but that’s not the same as having a specific option to contact support. If you get a problem with a mobile app, you’re best off logging a ticket using one of the methods we describe below.

Log a Ticket From a Client App on Your Computer

Logging a support ticket from inside a client app is pretty straightforward. In any of the applications—Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote—click Help > Contact Support.

The Contact Support button

Enter the details of your problem and then click “Get Help.”

The Help field and button

Microsoft will try to match your description of the problem with suitable help articles, but assuming these don’t help (and they might so give them a try first) click on “Talk to an agent.”

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