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The 5 best new Microsoft Outlook features

Whether you use the app, the browser version or the desktop client, you'll find some improvements worth celebrating.

microsoft-bill-pay-reminders

If you use Outlook.com, you now have the option of getting bill-pay reminders automatically added to your calendar.

Microsoft

Microsoft has been busy of late, what with the Build conference and a bunch of recent Windows updates. Hopefully by now you've learned the 5 ways Edge is better and all the new ways to protect your privacy in Windows 10.

Thankfully, Microsoft has also given some love to Outlook -- not just the desktop app, but also the web and app versions. In the fact, the company just released a bunch of new and/or improved features, with more on the way. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

Better meeting management

Outlook makes it fairly simple to invite people to a meeting, but keeping tabs on who's coming? That's never been a strong suit.

Until now: The new Tracking button reveals a table of invited attendees and their responses. And this is available not just for the meeting organizer, but the attendees as well. If you've been invited to a meeting and don't think it's worth your time to attend unless certain others also attend, now you can tell at a glance.

Coming soon, meeting organizers will also be able to disable the Allow Forwarding option in meeting invitations, thus preventing others from sharing the event outside the invited circle.

Better time-zone management

Managing appointments across time zones: not fun. But now you can set up event start times and end times across different zones -- very handy if you're traveling.

outlook-multiple-time-zones

Now I can tell at-a-glance what time it is at CNET's San Francisco offices while I work here in Michigan.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

In Outlook for Windows, you also have the option of displaying multiple time zones in the day and week calendar grids. Add one by clicking File > Options > Calendar, then scrolling down to Time Zones and clicking Show a second time zone. Give it a label (such as "PT"), choose the actual time zone you want from the drop-down selector, then click OK. (Mac users should click Outlook > Preferences > Calendar Time Zones.)

If you use Outlook on the Web, just click the Time Zone drop-down arrow in your Calendar meeting invite to add an additional time zone.

Better bcc management

If you're on the receiving end of a "blind carbon copy" (bcc) email, that means the other recipients don't know you were copied on it. In Outlook for Windows, you'll now get an alert if you attempt to reply to that message: You were bcc'd, so perhaps you should reply only to the sender? That way you'll remain anonymous; you won't "out" yourself as having been copied on the original.

Office Lens for Android

If you use Outlook for Android, this is welcome news indeed: Later this month, the app will integrate Microsoft's Office Lens feature.

When that happens, you can tap the photo icon while composing a message, then take a snapshot of a whiteboard, document, photo or the like. Outlook will optimize it and then embed it into the email.

Bill-payment reminders

Outlook.com already scans your messages for things like delivery notifications and travel reservations, automatically adding reminders to your calendar.

Now, it can do likewise with bills: Outlook will identify them in your inbox, show you a summary and automatically add a calendar event on the due date. You'll also get an email reminder two days ahead of the due date, the idea being to help you avoid accidental late payments.

Looking for the full rundown of what's new in Outlook? Check out the Outlook team's roundup.