Attaching recently used files in Outlook 2016

March 9, 2016 at 1:14 pm

One of my favorite new features of Outlook 2016 is the “Recent Items” drop-down that appears when you click the “Attach File” icon on the Message tab or the Insert tab in a new message window.  The drop-down lists approximately a dozen of your most recently opened and saved files, which makes it easy to attach documents that you’ve been working on within the past day or two without having to browse for them. Moreover, the list isn’t limited to Microsoft file formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). As an example, my current “Recent Items” list includes Word documents, unsurprisingly, but also WordPerfect files, PDFs, and images (.png files).

After you attach a file, the icon / placeholder for the attachment appears in the message screen along with a drop-down arrow that provides access to more options.[1]  If you opened the file from a local computer drive (as opposed to a shared location), the drop-down menu includes options to remove the attachment, to print it, to open it, to save it (presumably with a different name and/or in a different folder), or to copy it.

However, if you opened the file from a shared location such as a network, OneDrive, or SharePoint, the drop-down menu includes three additional options:  “Open file location” (i.e., go to the folder where the file is stored), “Attach as copy” (as opposed to attaching the file as a link, which is the standard option that people use when it’s important that everyone view / work on the most recent version of a document), and “Change Permissions.”  The “Change Permissions” option in turn provides two choices:  “Anyone can edit” and “Anyone can view” (the latter is the equivalent of “Read-Only”).

The bottom of the Recent Items drop-down features a “Browse Web Locations” icon.  If you use OneDrive, SharePoint, or similar cloud-based services, those choices will appear when you hover over the icon.  You might see a list of recently opened folders and/or documents there, as well.

The icon at the very bottom of the Recent Items drop-down, labeled “Browse This PC…,” is a useful option of last resort for attaching one or more documents you haven’t used recently enough for them to appear in the Recent Items list.

From my experiments, I don’t think it’s possible to attach multiple documents at once from the Recent Items list.  Nevertheless, it’s a quick and easy way to attach one or more recently used or saved documents to an e-mail message. _______________________________________________________________

[1]  Another way to open the Recent Items menu is by right-clicking the icon for any document you’ve attached.

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