Microsoft Outlook like Microsoft Office has tons of features that most people don't know about and never use. I just discovered two cool features in Outlook that have probably been there for a long time but I never noticed them.
AOL Instant Messenger status shows up in Outlook...even if you don't use AOL IM. I have no idea how Outlook does this but I noticed it yesterday. I was reading an email from a friend and noticed the yellow AOL icon next to her name in the email, along with the blue "pawn" icon from MSN Messenger. I hovered over the yellow AIM icon and it said "This user is available". I hovered over the blue MSN icon and it said "This person is not an online contact". I don't have AOL IM loaded on my PC so I have no idea how Outlook figures out that this person has AIM and is online. When this person goes offline the AIM icon disappears. This same behavior can be seen if you open your Contacts list. Amazing!
Maps and directions to the address of anyone in your contact list are available by clicking on a little yellow icon of a right turn street sign. This is incredible. Go to your Outlook Contacts list. Click on any contact for which you have a street address. You will see several icons above the contact information. Click on the yellow street sign and it launches MSN Maps in a new window with the exact location. From here you can request driving directions, print the map, or download the directions to your Pocket PC.
There is also an auto dialer that will dial the phone number of that contact assuming you have your phone configured to work with your PC. This has been around for a long time...and I knew about this one, but just thought I would mention it.
I am sure there are 20 more cool features I haven't discovered yet. I'm sure you have heard the refrain "the majority of users only use 20% of the features". While this is true, I can tell you from my product management experience that every feature in a product was requested by many customers, some of them really big companies. So, 100% of the features get used by at least a small percentage of users, but only 20% get used by the majority of users. This is the curse of a ubiquitous product used by companies large and small from all market sectors.
Please respond in the Comments section if you know of other little known features you would like to share.