Email messages have moved from being a fast, convenient way of keeping in touch with colleagues to one of the main methods of communicating in offices, with software applications moving with the times to give you what you require from the internet.

When email was first introduced it was considered a revolutionary way of passing important information within and beyond the walls of companies. Offices could scrap most of the internal mail practices that they previously relied on and instead simply log on to their work accounts. This saves times and money, as well as being favoured by green firms looking to reduce their carbon footprints.

Despite all these plus points offered by email there have been issues along the way. For example, project managers may now find they have to deal with thousands of messages a day, which could lead to stuffed accounts that become blocked. Also, email may not be as inclusive as traditional meetings that invited you and your colleagues to voice their thoughts.

Messages may be sent to the wrong addresses or simply ignored by recipients who feel they have more pressing matters on their hands. In cases such as these you may like to speak to people directly by meeting in person or picking up the telephone and engaging in a conference call. Although these more traditional ways of keeping in touch with colleagues are reliable and familiar, it is worth looking to new email applications and programmes that address the problems of internet communication.

Microsoft Outlook is a product that can help you keep control of your ever-expanding inbox, as well as maintaining strong links with your fellow workers. Via this programme, you are free to categorise messages in a way you see fit. Folders are easily created that allow you to store emails by different criteria, such as the date you received the email or the name of the person/company who sent it to you.

Ordering the messages that have landed in your account makes sure you keep on top of your mail and ensures that you can find information held within it quickly. Storing and organising of your inbox is simplified via Outlook, but the programme also helps you to save time by shedding light on the recipient's account. Each day, many people sit down to their desks and put precious hours into composing messages that unfortunately may not get to the person concerned in good time.

This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the recipient being out of office, resulting in a message to this effect landing in your inbox after sending the email. To prevent this happening, Outlook - in conjunction with Exchange - has created an ingenious tool that tells you whether the person or firm that you intend to send you message to has an out-of-office reply on standby. Once you have entered their address into the correct field on the email template, the MailTips function will inform you whether an out-of-office message exists for that account.

This means you are then free to contact someone else about the matter before sending the email, or if you're happy to wait until their return - which is also shown in the MailTips message in date form - you may wish to send the mail anyway. This is one example of the type of information that MailTips offers, but there is a lot more, such as if your message is too large, the email address is invalid or the recipient mailbox is too full, amongst others.