Clean up your Outlook! Quick tips to refresh your space


  • Delete your largest items
  • Delete your oldest items, and use filters to further narrow results
    • Filter for items you were CC’d on
    • Filter to items with attachments
    • Filter to unread/read
  • Delete unused folder contents, auto-email folders, or rule-based folders’ contents
  • Empty deleted items folder

Delete your largest items

Go to File –> Cleanup tools –> Mailbox Cleanup –> Set size filter and click Find

When the advanced search opens, add any additional filters and search. When you’re ready, click the top result, use Ctrl+A to select all results, right-click, and Delete. You may need to repeat the “Find Now, select all, delete” process depending on how many results you have.

Delete your oldest items

Similar to above, just change the “size” find option to the “days old” option.

Because you have delete in “batches,” it may be quicker to filter your main view as opposed to using the cleanup tool.

From your main Outlook screen, go to view –> view settings

Click “filter”

Configure settings for your filter, such as only messages you were copied on, or those with attachments. Click OK when ready.

Select all results (Ctrl+A), right-click and Delete.

Delete all of a certain folder’s contents

Click Folder –> Delete all to delete all items in a folder (perhaps you had a temporary project-based folder or a rule that sent generic or auto-emails to a specific folder).

Empty your deleted items folder contents

Now that you’ve filled your deleted items, let’s empty it too!

Go to File –> Cleanup tools –> Empty Deleted items folder –> Yes

5 ways to improve your efficiency using OneNote & Outlook

A colleague of mine from LMH Health, Andrew Brookens, and I set out to deliver an hour’s worth of efficiency hacks using OneNote and Outlook this week. It was the first time we’d tried such a thing, and it was a hot topic. We had 40+ show up in person, and a few people online have asked for handouts or recordings so I’m sharing it all here.

We knew we were setting out to share a lot of demo, and a lot of info from TWO products in FIVE topics in an hour or less. So we devised a handout that would help attendees along the way, and after. You can download it below. In-person attendees also got free access to my OneNote 101 7-day email course.

Because we don’t all have an hour to watch the recording, Andrew and I agreed that sharing smaller, digestible videos would probably work best for busy professionals on the go. Here are brief teaser videos introducing each of our five concepts:

Take and share meeting notes

Share categorized tag/to-do list

Minimize distractions in Outlook

Make your inbox work for you

Establish a task list in Outlook

Failing forward: Analyzing the aftermath

When you fail at something, you have a few choices and it’s perfectly natural to want to spend time doing a bit of each.

  • Dwell and be miserable; where’s the ice cream?
  • Move on; pretend it never happened
  • Move on, but harvest any useful bits of knowledge from the experience

The fact of the matter is that when we fail, we still gain something no matter how painful the failure was. Failure provides an opportunity to grow, and awakens a mental “trigger” that helps us avoid failing in the same way twice.

In my book Rise of the Advocates, I detail a story from my first job working at Dairy Queen. I was making my first banana split for a customer and it was beautiful. I was so proud of it, and honored that my supervisor let me even attempt such an intricate treat.

When I handed the masterpiece to the customer waiting in his car, he immediately held it up to the car’s dome light and asked, “Where’s the banana?” I had forgotten the banana – in the banana split.

It’s a mistake I didn’t make twice, and a failure that taught me to review instructions before starting, double-check my work, and even to ask for help when attempting something new. And while this is a low-risk, nearly harmless failure, the process of response and growth is the same as high-risk failures.

It can be difficult to immediately look upon any failure with even a remote sense of gratitude. In these times it’s helpful to remember you’re not at the end, but just somewhere along the way. A colleague of mine whom I respect, Ava, has a helpful quote tacked to her bulletin board that reads, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

So when you’re ready, analyze your failure in search of those valuable moments along the road that will ultimately help get you to that beautiful destination.

Here are some things to consider after failing:

  • Who helped you along the way? Say thanks for that reference or advice. They didn’t support you because you asked, but because you deserved it and they believed in you.
  • If someone asked for your assistance in achieving the same goal at which you just failed, what advice would you now give them? What surprised you about the process, or reactions (or lack thereof) from others?
  • Don’t worry about how the failure reflects on you. To me, and many others, failure looks like you tried to do something great and you will undoubtedly accomplish great things soon.
  • It may be easy to give up. But giving up doesn’t pay as well as trying again.
  • Sometimes trying again means trying something new or different than you first attempted. Failure is an opportunity to pivot.
  • Don’t do anything in response to failure that could hurt your chances at a similar opportunity in the future. Build bridges, don’t burn them. When someone has to close a door, thank them for the experience and before you know it that same someone might be opening that same door and will remember your grace and kindness from before.
  • You have a finite amount of energy each day. Decide now how much you’ll reserve for mourning and how much you’ll direct toward actively pursuing your next target.
  • You don’t have to live up to others’ expectations. Your competitive drive should be only you against yourself. Be greater today than you were yesterday. Let others have their expectations – it’s their energy to do with as they please.
  • Self-care is important. Be careful with your thoughts, as they become actions. If you believe you’re great, you’ll try again. If you believe you’re worthless, you won’t. This can be difficult, but know that you’re not alone and many people who make it look easy were there once too.
  • Your network should empower you, and inspire you. If it’s discouraging you or bringing you down, it’s time to start unfollowing and disconnecting from your energy vampires. Stay connected to people who will push you farther than you ever imagined.
  • Some people want you to fail (or are indifferent). It could be insecurity, jealousy, laziness (not doing their part) or any number of issues but the issues are with them not you. While unfortunate that people in power can use it to hold you down or sabotage your chances, it’s important that you’re aware of these bad apples and can attempt to circumvent them when at all possible. If you must interact with them, interact with them publicly or in group settings so others can witness any unfair or dismissive behaviors. Or if you’re in a position to replace a bad performer, make the leap and replace them.
  • Even when you fail, there’s a lesson to be learned. Are there skills you can develop? Connections you can make? A degree or certification you could pursue? What action would make you more competitive or likely to succeed next time?
  • What actions did you take that didn’t work out so well? What would you do differently? But also what really worked? What triggered a great response and can be replicated next time around?
  • What is at the core of your goal? Is it truly getting that specific position or creating a thriving user group? Or maybe it’s getting a foot in the door at a specific company, or building a strong community? Try to identify what you’re truly after and check in with yourself from time to time to make sure the actions you’re taking are getting you closer to that core.

Remember that we often climb the ladder to our destination more quickly with assistance from those with whom we surround ourselves. Are people in your immediate circle holding you down or pushing you upward? Have you made contact with professionals in a position of power or influence that might be able to recommend or endorse you? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Try to follow people who are doing something similar to what you want to be doing. Learn from them and their own mistakes. Get to know their secret to success, and what support systems they have built. If nobody is doing what you’re doing, consider yourself a pioneer. Expect an adventure ahead, and be sure to always seek the growth opportunities from failures along the way to make your destination that much more sweet. Someday, and possibly already today, people will consider you a mentor and hope to learn from your successes (and failures).

If you failed, that means you tried. Keep trying, fail when necessary, and ultimately you’ll succeed. The path to your destination won’t always be a straight road and I’ll be here cheering you on around the corners, knowing you’ll make it to your destination soon.

Create an external content type in SharePoint to connect to SQL data

External content types are used to create external lists in SharePoint. Before you can create the list/connection, you must first have created the content type.

Create the content type

1. Open SharePoint Designer and open your site

2. Select “External Content Types” from the “Navigation menu

3. Select “External Content Type” from the “New” ribbon section

4. Rename the content type by selecting the name and entering a new one.

Connect it to SQL data

1. Select “Click here to discover external data sources and define operations”

2. Click “Add Connection” if you haven’t previously connected to the SQL server

3. Select SQL Server

4. Enter the Server and database names. Select User’s identity (your credentials) or a service account to impersonate (and enter it in Secure Store Application ID). Click OK.

5. SharePoint External lists require at least Read item and read list operations. Right click the table or view to which you’re connecting and select “Create all operations” or choose specific operations if you need to, in order to match data source settings.

6. Click next.

  • Resolve any errors or warnings. This may mean checking/unchecking required/read-only to match data source settings. You’ll also need to select one field as “Map to Identifier.”
  • Uncheck any columns you don’t want imported.
  • Click next again.

7. To filter data pulled in (preventing massive imports), you can optionally add a filter otherwise click Finish.

8. Click “Create Lists & Form,” and “Save” when prompted

9. Name the list and give it a description (optional). Click OK.

10. Check your Site Contents to find your new list.


Large lists

Is your list larger than 2,000 items? Here’s how to get past the “resource throttle” error.

Target application not found

If you get “Target Application Not Found,” make sure you’ve setup your Secure Store Application ID in the admin center.

  1. Go to service applications

2. Click “Secure Store Service Application”

3. Click “New” if the app isn’t listed, or update it if there.

4. If created new, you’ll need to enter credentials as well. Format the username as Domain\Username.

Solution: “Database Connector has throttled the response” error on external list in SharePoint

Applies to SharePoint 2016, can be adapted for O365

If you’re connecting to an external list of significant size, you may run into the following error:

Database Connector has throttled the response. The response from database contains more than ‘2000’ rows. The maximum number of rows that can be read through Database Connector is ‘2000’. The limit can be changed via the ‘Set-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig’ cmdlet.

1. Log into your SharePoint server

2. Open your SharePoint 2016 Management Shell as administrator (right-click, run as administrator)

3. Connect to your site

Connect-Site -url

4. Get ALL service application Proxy IDs (you’ll need this in a later step)


5. Note the ID of the “Business Data Con…” application

6. Set a new variable “$serviceapp” to that app using the ID you noted as its identity

$serviceapp = Get-SPServiceApplicationProxy -Identity a12b3cf4-d12j...

7. Run the following cmdlet to increase the throttle limit

Get-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig -Scope Database -ThrottleType Items -ServiceApplicationProxy $serviceapp | Set-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig -Maximum 1000000000 -Default 500000

Your external list will now load correctly!

More info:

Solution: “Feature requires a browser that supports ActiveX controls” when importing spreadsheet to SharePoint

If you’re trying to import a spreadsheet as a new list in SharePoint, you’ll need to use a browser that supports ActiveX controls or you’ll get the error:

“This feature requires a browser that supports ActiveX controls.”

Chances are you’re running a browser other than IE, or you’re running IE version 11. ActiveX controls are not supported in IE11, or most browsers. We can work around this error message by having IE pretend it’s version 10 momentarily.

  1. Open SharePoint in Internet Explorer (IE)
    • Quick access: Hit Windows key, type IE, hit enter
  2. Press F12 to open Developer Tools and select the Emulation Tab
  3. Change Document mode from 11 to 10 (supports ActiveX). Page will reload so you can try again in version 10.

Now try to import the spreadsheet again and it will work fine, opening your spreadsheet and prompting you to select the table or relevant data for import.

The “new Outlook” in Outlook O365 looks a lot like personal Outlook online now

When you log into your Outlook online at work next time, you might be prompted to try the “new” Outlook. Here’s what you’ll see if you venture forth.

The first thing I noticed is how the original O365 Outlook looked like this:

But the new Outlook (when toggled on) resembles personal accounts (,, etc.). Notice the change in the left pane, the top nav, and the “new message” and search bar locations.

I love this consistency across experiences and feel this will help users adjust more easily, recognizing a familiar layout across their personal and work accounts.

Two features highlighted in the “welcome tour” once activated include improved search and scheduling (including assistant ability of identifying available times).

The integration of your groups is still there, and you can easily drag your messages to your groups to share with relevant teams (very helpful in reducing data loss or “recovery” that occurs when employees leave a company and a lot of content still lives in their inbox).

Updated share link options for SharePoint files

You may have already seen some new options when sharing links to files in SharePoint (and OneDrive). Here’s what’s available in my tenant today:

If you use the “Anyone with the link” option (for anonymous access) you can choose a date on which the link will expire and access will no longer be granted via that link.

You can block people from downloading only if you uncheck “Allow editing” for the link types that support it.

Your basic options are to allow anonymous users (with or without an expiration date) to:

  • Edit & Download
  • View & Download
  • View Only

You can also easily share with people only in your tenant, even if they don’t have prior access, and choose whether they can edit, view and download, or just view.

People with existing access is useful just to Skype/Teams someone a quick link to get to the file. Their pre-existing permissions apply.

Finally, “Specific People” can allow you to share with external users but they must use the address you share with, as they’ll be sent a verification code to validate their identity. This adds a layer of security to otherwise anonymous share links.

Note: You may not be prompted to enter your email address if opened directly. But if the email is forwarded, user will be asked to verify email before they’re able to send a code.

“Notify your team” option when you upload files to SharePoint

A newer feature in SharePoint allows you the option to “Notify your team” after a new file is uploaded. Your upload process is the same, but then your “upload complete” dialog now has an additional option:

When you select “Notify your team” you’re presented with options like sharing with SharePoint groups, or just individuals manually entered.

When finished, click “Notify” and the intended recipients receive a link that only works for them when logged in.

If you attempt to share with someone not in your tenant, you will receive an error as you can only notify people with existing access.

For these external users, you can instead separately share via the usual “Share” dialog when a file is selected. Here you’ll also find a newer feature that allows for blocking downloads if the “Allow editing” box is unchecked. This would prevent people making edits offline and creating multiple versions in silos.

Preserve Excel hyperlinks when saving as PDF

If you have hyperlinks in your excel files and need to save your file as a PDF, you’ve probably run into the error in which your hyperlinks in the PDF output are inactive.

To be able to maintain hyperlinks you will need Adobe Acrobat. If you don’t have it, please skip down to the bottom of this post to the “Don’t have Adobe Acrobat?” section.

If you do have Adobe, it’s quite simple unless you’re using the HYPERLINK() formula (see below). Just use the Acrobat add-in to save as Adobe PDF.

File –> Save as Adobe PDF –> Convert to PDF. You can also use the Acrobat tab in the ribbon and click “Create PDF”.

Using HYPERLINK() formula

If you’re using the hyperlink formula, as seen below, we’ll need to do some manipulation to our sheet first. Printing to PDF will require that your hyperlinks are properly written before conversion (http… or https…).

To get just the hyperlinks from our formula, we can copy values from Excel and paste into Word, then copy from Word and paste back into Excel (keeping source formatting).

Paste into blank Word document, then copy all values (not the whole table, just the column)
Back in Excel, select the original column values, and paste the new values copied from Word in their place

Now when you save as Adobe PDF, your links will remain active:

Don’t have Adobe Acrobat?

Save the Excel Sheet as a web page and links will work. This isn’t ideal but in a pinch will save you some stress.