Having Outlook work with multiple email accounts simplifies your life by becoming one central place to work with all your messages. It does, however, add some complexity in that you need to know which account any given message came in on or will be sent out on. The rest of this article explains how you do this.

When you Receive Messages

Let’s talk about how Outlook receives messages from different accounts. Outlook will automatically checks each email account (the settings in your Send/Receive groups determine when). Messages from most types of email accounts end up in the Inbox, while messages from HTTP mail accounts, like Hotmail, end up in their own collection of mail folders.

Wondering how you will know which messages are associated with which accounts? The Hotmail messages automatically end up in their own folders. For the others, if you can’t tell just by looking at who they’re from, you can look at the To: field of the message. The email address the message was sent to (and hence the account), appears on that line.

Except when it doesn’t. Sometimes you’ll see a nickname instead of the actual email address in the To: field. If there’s a nickname, you can follow these steps to find out the actual email address associated with that nickname:

  1. Right-click the nickname.
  2. In the shortcut menu, click Outlook Properties.
  3. In the dialog box, look on the E-mail Addresses tabbed page to see which address the message was sent to.

Sending Messages from Multiple Accounts

Outlook always has a default account it will use to send new messages, unless you tell it to use a different account. This is how the account that Outlook will use is determined:

  • Outlook will always use the default account for a new message, unless you tell it to do something different.
  • When you’re replying to a message you received, Outlook uses the account that the message came in on. In other words, if someone sent a message to your account named xyz@mymailserver.com, and you do a Reply or Reply to All, Outlook would assume you want to send the reply using the xyz@mymailserver.com account. Unless, of course, you tell Outlook to use a different account.
  • When you forward a message, Outlook likewise assumes you want to do so with the same account as the original message.

The way Outlook selects the account to use makes great sense, but what if you don’t want to use the account Outlook wants you to? What exactly is the process for telling Outlook which account you want it to use?

You tell Outlook which email account to use when the message window is open. When you have multiple accounts set up, you will see an Account button below the Send button. Click the Account button, and Outlook will display a menu listing all your e-mail accounts. Simple select the account you want Outlook to use for sending this message.

How to Specify the Default Account

You may at some point decide that you want Outlook to use a different email account as your default. If you do, these are the steps you’d follow to change it:

  1. Go to the main Outlook menu and click Tools > Account Settings. This opens the Account Settings dialog box.
  2. On the E-mail tabbed page of this dialog box, you should find the box listing all your email accounts. Click the account you want to make your new default account.
  3. In the space above the account list, find and click Set as Default. The Set as Default option remains dim until you have selected a new account to use as the default.
  4. The list rearranges itself so the new default option appears at the top of the list.
  5. Click Close.

You can now manage your multiple email accounts.

Learning how to work with multiple email accounts is just one of the things covered in Lesson 3 of the 6-week online course, Introduction to Outlook 2007. If strengthening your skills with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 makes sense to you in these uncertain economic times, I strongly suggest you visit IntroToOutlook2007.info to learn more.

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