One Outlook feature that can make your life easier is the ability to link contacts to other Outlook items. It sounds useful, but there’s a catch. For some reason, in Outlook 2010, Microsoft chose to hide the field that lets you link to contacts from items like an appointment or a email message. Why they did this is unclear, but we can undo the change easily.
What we’re going to do here is ‘unhide’ the option to link contacts to various items, then walk through how you do it for the different types of items. Just follow the steps below and you’ll re ready to go in minutes.
Enable the Link to Contact Field
This is real easy. We just have to turn on the option. To do so:
- Click the File tab on the ribbon to go to the Backstage view.
- Click Options in the menu that runs down the left side of the view. This opens the Outlook Options dialog box.
- Click Contacts in the menu on the left side of the dialog box to see contacts-specific options.
- In the Linking section of the dialog box, set the Show contacts linked to the current item option.
- Click OK to return to the main Outlook window.
You will now be able to see the Contacts field in items so you can make the links. Unfortunately, the exact steps needed to do this vary with the kind of item you are working with. I’ve broken the instructions down to cover the various options. In the next section we’ll learn how it works for most items.
Link Contacts to Appointments, Meetings, Tasks
In this section we’ll talk about how to link to contacts for most Outlook 2010 items. Simply follow these steps:
- Open the item in its own window.
- Look at the bottom of the window. You should see something very similar to the image below. This is what you enabled when you set the option to Show contacts linked to the current item.
- Click the Contacts button. This opens the Select Contacts dialog box shown below.
- Select the contacts you want to associate with this item then click OK to link them to the contact. They will now appear in the field next to the Contacts button when you view the item. You can repeat the process to add more contacts, or manually delete existing contacts from the field to remove them.
Making it Work for Email
In this section we’ll talk about how to link to contacts for email messages. The process isn’t really hard, just different than for most other items. Here’s what we need to do.
Open the email message you want to work with in its own window. Note that there is not a Contacts button and field visible at the bottom of the window. What we need to do is find our way to the Message Options dialog box, where we can link the contacts to this message.
- Click the Message tab of the ribbon.
- Look for the Tags section of the ribbon. In the bottom right corner of this section, you should see a little icon.
- Click that icon to make the message Properties dialog box appear (see below). This box contains the Contacts button and field, which you work with exactly the same as we discussed in the previous section.
- Click OK when you are done.
That’s it for email messages. Just one more oddball to deal with.
Attaching Contacts to Notes
Outlook Notes act differently than other Outlook items in several ways, given that they are meant to simulate those little paper sticky notes from days gone by. Making a link between Contacts and Notes is one of those ways. Let’s take care of this:
- Open the Note you want to work with.
- Click the icon in the top left corner of the Note. A menu appears.
- Select the Contacts option in that menu. A Contacts for Note dialog box appears, containing only the Contacts button, the Contacts field, and a Close button.
- Add or remove Contacts as we have discussed previously, and click the Close button when you are done.
That’s it. You now know the techniques to link to Contacts from Outlook 2010 items.
IMPORTANT: Because you can link contacts to so many different kinds of items, there are many ways you could have come to this page. When you are done here, your best bet may be to simply click your web browser’s BACK arrow to return to the page you came from.