imageAfter playing around for weeks, some Outlook's default settings are just not that intuitive. Well, I'm based on IMAP account experience only.

strikethrough mailFirst and the most annoying thing Outlook has is choosing to inherit EXPUNGE command too straight forward. By putting strikethrough line on the letters, instead of hiding from inbox and showing it on Trash. It's just not what our common sense is--I think, in fact, this is what Microsoft put in our brains, that's why it causes the problem. I really have no clue why Microsoft did this, but at least there is a way to work around this.

  • hide messages marked for deletion.

Many Views you can choose

>> This is what Outlook should set as a default really! Having options is good but it just needs to use the right one as a default to eliminate frustration (or confusion)

  • purge automatically when switching the folder.  (Ctrl+Alt+s | edit | account properties | General tab)

Auto purge 

But what we will lose here is the capability to recover (aka recycle bin) It's just what you have to trade off when using Outlook or move to trash folder manually every time. Or you have any option to purge by yourself in edit | purge menu, this way, just remember to do it once in a while.

<img style="border-top-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px" height="224" alt="unopened items but no " src="http://mycapsules.com/sites/default/files/2008/08/image_45.png" width="300" align="right" border="0" inbox??="inbox??" unread="unread" />After solving this issue, then another issue, which bothered me, needs to be fixed as well. The problem is when opening Outlook, it will not initialize IMAP folder automatically, even when its schedule time to send/receive messages. Outlook will show you only there is a new mail arrived. However, oddly, there will be no bold inbox which indicate where unread mail is. It will be no problem at all if you have only 1 IMAP account, but in my case, 3 IMAP accounts, it's definitely annoying.

Anyway, there is an indicator showing that you have initialized the folder or not

This is the problem!

Here you will see how different the icon is. If your icon's inbox is not plain folder, you will have no problem with it, but if not, you will have the same issue I concerned and leaving it alone don't help a bit.

I usually open at all time, but sometimes it's closed no matter it's intentionally or not. When I reopen it, as you know, Outlook which is a big butt program is not ready after a few seconds like Thunderbird, you may have 5 seconds to check others and come back checking your new mail. At that time, I don't want to waste time click on each account's folder to activate IMAP folders. I want to know which account has a new mail at this point. Well I think you get my needs and scenario now.

The way to workaround this is let the special page works for you. It's Personal Folder - Outlook Today page.

outlook today

It can be customize to show at when starting and show the message of the folder you want as well. It might not have the name you want (in my case above, they all are inbox) but it does the trick we want indeed.

Customize Outlook Today Select Folders you want

Just check at inbox, or any you want--at least 1 per account, Outlook will work like you expected it to be now. As a side note, you may wonder if Outlook takes longer to load. Yes, it does, but that would mean you will have few seconds extra getting other tasks done while waiting it in background. It's just worth than click each account yourself.

Another little annoying thing when you are using IMAP account on Outlook is Personal Folders, which means nothing to us, will always be on top. Mail: Favorite folders: limited customizationThere is no way to get rid or rearrange of it. You probably will never notice this problem if you are using super high resolution screen, but mine is only 1024px*768px, so it's what I'm concerned.

What we need is to create a shortcut in Favourite Folders, this way you will have the folders you want within an easy reach. The draw back here is you couldn't rename it, it will be like "inbox in bla bla bla" which is too long. It will not show how many the unread mails are since you are likely to expand this column that wide and narrow the rest until you can't read your mail easily. You just have to live with it though. However, if you really want to have super customizable place for it, Outlook also provide Shortcuts for you, but I found it's sometimes not convenient as much as Favorite Folders in Mail group itself.

Shortcuts: fully customized links

Here you go, if I could rename in Favorite Folders like I did in Shortcuts it should be really awesome.

The last thing in this take is opening Outlook with keyboard shortcut. If you are like me, you will probably find the way to open it as quick as possible and do not want too many click in order to open it. Sometimes moving cursor is less preferable than just press the combination of few keys.

There are many tricks here, but what I use is the simplest one and believe that it's the best one.

Quick Launch

Here it is, Quick Launch! Frankly I hadn't known this shortcut was existed for a long long time so far.

Normally when you open Outlook for the first time, it will create a special shortcut in quick launch automatically, but if you already deleted that or it was somehow gone, just create a shortcut by on your own on the desktop and drag it into quick launch. The reason why I called the special shortcut is it's not only a shortcut to "outlook.exe" solely. It must have a parameter which stop generating a new Outlook's window every time we call--only restore the existed window. When you create a shortcut, just put this in the command line.

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE"  /recycle

You will not end up having several Outlook's windows in your task bar like this

tons of outlook

Also, you might want to hide outlook when minimized--only show as an icon in task bar

hide when minimized

After all these tweaks, I can say that Outlook is much better (with IMAP) than it was. Although this is the method making Outlook close to Thunderbird in term of feeling, there is no where to compare both of them, so I think I'd better leave the comparison for this take. Surely, next time will be the direct comparison between Thunderbird 3.0 and Outlook 2007. Stay tuned.

Note: if you guys have any idea or tweaks, please share :-D