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Manage Scheduling in Microsoft Outlook 2016

Schedule and change meetings

A primary difficulty when scheduling a meeting is finding a time that works for all the people who need to attend it. Scheduling meetings through Outlook is significantly simpler than other methods of scheduling meetings, particularly when you need to accommodate the schedules of several people. Outlook displays the individual and collective schedules of people within your own organization, and of people outside of your organization who have published their calendars to the Internet. You can review attendees’ schedules to locate a time when everyone is available, or have Outlook find a convenient time for you.

You can send an Outlook meeting invitation (referred to as a meeting request) to anyone who has an email account—even to a person who doesn’t use Outlook. You can send a meeting request from any type of email account (such as an Exchange account or an Internet email account).

The meeting window has two pages: the Appointment page and the Scheduling Assistant page. The Appointment page is visible by default. You can enter all the required information directly on the Appointment page, or use the additional features available on the Scheduling Assistant page to find the best time for the meeting.

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The Appointment page of a meeting window

The Room Finder is open by default on the right side of each page of the meeting window. This handy tool helps you to identify dates and times that work for the greatest number of attendees, in addition to available locations. The monthly calendar at the top of the Room Finder indicates the collective availability of the group on each day, as follows:

  • Dates that occur in the past and nonworking days are unavailable (gray).
  • Days when all attendees are available are Good (white).
  • Days when most attendees are available are Fair (light blue).
  • Days when most attendees are not available are Poor (medium blue).

Managed conference rooms that are available at the indicated meeting time are shown in the center of the Room Finder. At the bottom of the Room Finder pane, the Suggested Times list displays attendee availability for appointments of the length of time you have specified for the meeting.

Selecting a date in the calendar displays the suggested meeting times for just that day. (Scheduling suggestions are not provided for past or nonworking days.) Clicking a meeting time in the Suggested Times list updates the calendar and the meeting request.

People you invite to meetings are referred to as attendees. By default, the attendance of each attendee is indicated as Required. You can inform noncritical attendees of the meeting by marking their attendance as Optional. You can invite entire groups of people by using a contact group or distribution list. You can also invite managed resources, such as conference rooms and audio/visual equipment, that have been set up by your organization’s Exchange administrator.

A meeting request should have at least one attendee other than you, and it must have a start time and an end time. It should also include a subject and a location, but Outlook will send the meeting request without this information if you specifically allow it. The body of a meeting request can include text and web links, and you can also attach files. This is a convenient way to distribute meeting information to attendees ahead of time.

The secondary page of the meeting window is the Scheduling Assistant page, if your email account is part of an Exchange Server network. Otherwise, the secondary page is the Scheduling page, which doesn’t include the Room Finder feature.

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If you’re organizing a meeting for a large number of people, you can view collective information about their schedules on the Scheduling or Scheduling Assistant page

The Scheduling and Scheduling Assistant pages include a group schedule that shows the status of each attendee’s time throughout your working day. Outlook indicates your suggested meeting time on the group schedule. If free/busy information is available for meeting attendees, the status is indicated by the standard free/busy colors and patterns that match the legend at the bottom of the page. If no information is available (either because Outlook can’t connect to an attendee’s calendar or because the proposed meeting is further out than the scheduling information stored on the server), Outlook shows the time with gray diagonal stripes. The row at the top of the schedule, to the right of the All Attendees heading, indicates the collective schedule of all the attendees.

You can change the time and duration of the meeting to work with the displayed schedules by selecting a different time in the Start Time and End Time lists, by dragging the vertical start time and end time bars in the group schedule, or by clicking the time you want in the Suggested Times list.

Outlook tracks responses from attendees and those responsible for scheduling the resources you requested, so you always have an up-to-date report of how many people will attend your meeting. The number of attendees who have accepted, tentatively accepted, and declined the meeting request appears in the meeting header section when you open a meeting in its own window.

You might find it necessary to change the date, time, or location of a meeting after you send the meeting request, or to add or remove attendees. As the meeting organizer, you can change any information in a meeting request at any time, including adding or removing attendees, or canceling the meeting. Meeting attendees receive updates. Changes to meeting details are tracked so that attendees can quickly identify them.

To open a new meeting window

  1. Do any of the following:

    • On the Home tab of the Calendar module, in the New group, click New Meeting.
    • On the Home tab of any module, in the New group, click New Items, and then click Meeting.
    • In any module, press Ctrl+Shift+Q.

To create a meeting request

  1. Open a new meeting window.
  2. In the To box, enter contact information for the attendees.
  3. In the Subject box, enter an identifying name for the meeting.
  4. In the Location box, enter the meeting location. If your organization uses Skype for Business, you can click the Skype Meeting button on the Meeting toolbar to enter Skype meeting information in the Location box and content pane.
  5. In the Start time row, enter or select a date and time. Outlook automatically sets the End Time to a half hour after the start time.
  6. In the End time row, enter or select a date and time. A meeting can span overnight or across multiple days.

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    A basic meeting request

  7. Verify the meeting details, and then click the Send button to add the meeting to your calendar and send the meeting request to the attendees.

To identify times that colleagues are available for meetings

  1. On the Meeting tab, in the Show group, click the Scheduling Assistant button. The All Attendees list on the Scheduling Assistant page includes you and any attendees you entered in the To box. The icon next to your name, a magnifying glass in a black circle, indicates that you are the meeting organizer. The icon next to each attendee’s name, an upward-pointing arrow in a red circle, indicates that he or she is a required attendee.

  2. If necessary, scroll to the bottom of the Room Finder to display the Suggested times list. The times shown are based on your schedule and the schedule information that is available for the attendees.
  3. To add attendees, enter their email addresses in the All Attendees list, and then press Tab to update the Suggested Times list in the Room Finder.
  4. If you need to change the meeting time or duration, you can do so by dragging the start time and end time bars on the group schedule or by entering times in the boxes below the group schedule.
  5. Click the Appointment button in the Show group to return to the Appointment page, which reflects the current attendees and meeting times.
  6. Verify the meeting details, and then click the Send button to add the meeting to your calendar and send the meeting request to the attendees.

To edit a meeting request

  1. Open the meeting window for editing.
  2. If the meeting is one of a series (a recurring meeting), Outlook prompts you to indicate whether you want to edit the meeting series or only the selected instance of the meeting. Click Just this one or The entire series.
  3. Modify the date, time, notes, options, or attendees. Then click the Send Update button.
  4. If you modified the attendees, Outlook prompts you to specify whether to send updates to all attendees or only to the changed attendees. Click one of the following to send the meeting updates:

    • Send updates only to added or deleted attendees
    • Send updates to all attendees

To cancel a meeting or a meeting occurrence

  1. Select the meeting on your calendar, or open the meeting window.
  2. Do either of the following:

    • On the Meeting tool tab, in the Actions group, click the Cancel Meeting button.
    • On the Meeting Series tool tab, in the Actions group, click the Cancel Meeting button, and then click Cancel Occurrence or Cancel Series.

    A meeting window containing cancellation information opens.

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    Cancelling a meeting removes it from attendees’ calendars

  3. Do either of the following:

    • In the meeting header, click the Send Cancellation button. Outlook sends an updated meeting request to the attendees and removes the meeting from their calendars.

      If you change your mind about cancelling the meeting, click the Close button (X) at the right end of the message window title bar. Outlook reminds you that you haven’t sent the cancellation and provides options. In the message box that appears, click Don’t cancel the meeting and close, and then click OK.

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      You can’t cancel a meeting without notifying the attendees