June 2, 2011

10 add-ins that make Outlook easier to use

May 26, 2011, 8:00 AM PDT

Takeaway: If you can’t do something in Outlook, chances are there’s an add-in that can. Susan Harkins lists some handy add-ins that close a few feature gaps.

Outlook is a winner in the add-in department, with so many good ones available. Of course, not all add-ins deliver on their promises — and some slow down an already performance-challenged program. But there are plenty of Outlook add-ins that expand functionality or enhance existing features. Here are 10 of my favorites.

 

1: RecoverMyEmail

Outlook is a great management tool, but it’s prone to corruption errors. Usually, a corrupt PST file is the culprit, and the result is lost information. If you’re lucky, Microsoft’s pst repair tool can recover everything. But in my experience, it doesn’t.

 

RecoverMyEmail can repair a broken PST (and DBX) file and recover emails. Figure A shows the add-in at work; the process can take a while. This add-in can also undelete email after you’ve emptied your Deleted Items folder. It’s easy to implement and use. Unfortunately, it won’t recover or undelete anything but email items. You’ll have to look elsewhere for help recovering contacts and calendar items.

Click Open Email File to start the recovery process.
  • Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista
  • Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007 (and Outlook Express)
  • $99.95
  • Free trial

2: E-mail Follow-up

Outlook lets you assign a reminder when you send email and then adds the reminder to your To-do list. If you need more (like me), try E-mail Follow-up. This add-in lets you set a response time when you send an email, as shown in Figure B. If the recipient doesn’t respond within the allotted time, the add-in will remind you that you’re still waiting on a response.

 

Set a response time and let E-mail Follow-up do the remembering for you.
  • Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • $24 (single user) up to $1200 (for 100 users)
  • Free trial

3: Lookeen

Despite improvements in Outlook’s search features, many users are still turning to Lookeen. It quickly finds Outlook items, email, contacts, appointments, and so on, that contain your search string. Even attachments are searched. Results are easy to work with and provide an additional management tool for previewing, moving, and deleting.

 

Type in the search string and Lookeen finds every item that contains that string.
  • Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • $39.80 (single user) with volume discount
  • Free trial

4: Xobni

It happens to all of us: I know John changed the meeting time after Mary said she couldn’t make it… but you can’t find the message with the new time. And when you finally find it, you realize that John’s assistant, and not John, responded with the new time. Xobni works alongside your mail window to display recent conversations, exchanged files (Figure D), and related emails from people in the copy line. You can also view statistics and graphs that will tell you about your email habits.

 

View people and attached files related to a specific email.
  • Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • $7.99 a month
  • Free trial

5: SimplyFile

Despite my best efforts, my Inbox stays crowded. I can drag messages to categorized folders, but I have many folders and I’m good at dropping messages into the wrong folder. SimplyFile does what Outlook does, but a bit more efficiently. After a little training (SimplyFile, not you), a single click to the SimplyFile group, shown in Figure E, will move messages. As you use this add-in, its ability to choose the right folder improves. (This add-in doesn’t support Google Docs and has known issues with Gmail.)

 

With SimplyFile, filing is a single click away.
  • Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • $49.95
  • Free trial

6: Email Scheduler

Outlook offers a bare-bones scheduling feature. You specify a day and time, and Outlook won’t send the message before the allotted time. If you’re scheduling messages frequently, you’ll probably want more options. Email Scheduler fully automates scheduling delayed messages and sending messages. You can attach files and even whole folders. Although this is a handy add-in, be sure to check its restrictions before purchasing — it doesn’t work with Outlook Express or Exchange Client.

  • Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, and 2007
  • $24 (single user) up to $1200 (100 users)
  • Free trial

7: Sent Item Organizer

Occasionally, I run into an add-in that doesn’t add functionality, it just lets me do what I want to do more efficiently. Sent Item Organizer lets your organize your sent messages by filing them in specific folders. This add-in is more flexible than Outlook’s built-in rules. You can use keywords or email addresses to trigger the move. This add-in is also good for users who need more control but are unfamiliar with Outlook features.

  • Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • $29.95
  • Free trial

8: Easy2Add

The coolest stuff comes sometimes comes in the smallest package. Easy2Add displays a small icon in your task tray. When you want to add a new item to Outlook, click the icon and enter the item. That’s all you see, but behind the scenes, it creates a new item in Outlook even if Outlook is closed. Want to add a quick lunch meeting? You don’t have to launch Outlook and wait for all those add-ins to load — just use Easy2Add, enter the details (Figure F), and you’re done. You’ll have to follow a few rules about the text you enter, but they’re simple. (Note: The documentation doesn’t list Outlook 2010, but so far, so good; just keep that in mind if you use it with 2010.)

 

Enter item details without launching Outlook.
  • Windows XP and Vista
  • Outlook 2002, 2003, and 2007
  • Free

9: PocketKnife Peek

PocketKnife Peek lets you view HTML messages in plain text without the potential danger of executing a malicious script. After installing this add-in, you’ll find a Peek button on the standard toolbar in Outlook 2000 through 2007. In Outlook 2010, it’s on the Add-In tab. Select the email item and click Peek. Figure G shows an issue of the Office For Mere Mortals newsletter in plain text. (No, I wasn’t really worried about the newsletter. OfMM has been around for ages and is clean and informative!

 

Click the tabs to view an HTML email in plain text.
  • Windows XP, Vista, and 7
  • Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, 2007, and 2010
  • Free

10: SMS

Microsoft’s SMS add-in lets you send SMS text messages through most mobile phones. In addition, you can save a draft, send to groups, print the SMS, and forward a message as SMS or email. You can lookup contacts and use Spellcheck. Connect your mobile phone via Infrared, Bluetooth, or even a USB cable and you’re ready to go.

  • Windows Server 2003, XP, Vista
  • Outlook 2003 and 2007
  • Free
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May 29, 2011

Microsoft’s Ballmer says next-gen Windows systems due in 2012

During remarks at a developers conference in Japan on May 23, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer referred to the next version of Windows as “Windows 8.” He also said the next generation of Windows systems will be out next year.

To those not following Microsoft’s Windows saga closely, this may seem like a “so what” moment. But Microsoft execs have been studiously avoiding any references to the timing or naming of the next version of Windows to try to keep the specifics of the product as quiet as possible. Microsoft’s top brass has been avoiding calling the next version of Windows “Windows 8″ publicly, preferring instead to call it “Windows Next.” (Internally, a number of  Microsoft job postings and leaked slides have referenced “Windows 8,” however.”

Here’s what Ballmer said today in Tokyo about Windows 8, according to Microsoft’s own transcript:

“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Parsing Ballmer’s words further, it’s interesting he called out Windows 8 slates and tablets as two separate form factors. Last year, Microsoft was pushing Windows Embedded Compact as its slate operating system, designed for devices that were more about consumption than creation….

It’s also interesting that Ballmer did not say specifically that “the next generation of Windows systems” due out next year were Windows 8 systems. (There’s been some speculation that Microsoft might deliver ARM-based tablets separately from Windows 8 laptops, PCs and notebooks — with some company watchers predicting that Win8 tablets would ship before the other SKUs, and others predicting they’d ship afterwards. I’ve heard from my contacts that Microsoft is planning to deliver all Windows 8 SKUs simultaneously, however.)

The head of Windows, President Steven Sinofsky, is slated to speak next week at the AllThingsD conference, where many are expecting him to show off an internal build of Windows 8 (whether or not he actually refers to it using the Windows 8 codename).

Microsoft is expected to provide testers with a first tech preview or beta of Windows 8 in mid-September during the company’s developer conference in Anaheim, Calif. The rumored release-to-manufacturing date of Windows 8 is mid-2012, with holiday 2012 retail availability targeted.

Update: OK, believe it or not, the “official” response is Ballmer’s statement isn’t what it seems to be… Sent from a Microsoft spokesman earlier tonight:

““It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year.  To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”

And, as usual, there are many ways to interpret these remarks. Is the next-generation Windows release nothing but Windows 7 with new paint? Windows 8 not the final name for the next version of Windows? (The final name possibly being something other than Windows 8 is something that I’ve heard from my tipsters…) You be the judge….

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August 11, 2010

It’s time for Microsoft to supply ALL patches to All users

By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes | April 2, 2009, 4:45am PDT

It’s time for Microsoft’s policy of tying the availability of Windows Updates to Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation to end.

Brian Livingston writing for Windows Secrets had the following to say:

“It’s ridiculous to say that Microsoft provides all security updates to Windows users, whether or not they pass Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation. No, Microsoft doesn’t.

“First of all, a system that fails WGA is restricted in using Microsoft’s update and download sites.

“WGA has a reputation for rating some PCs as unlicensed when in fact they’re completely legitimate. For this reason, many people exit Windows Update at this point and turn off Automatic Updates (if it was enabled) rather than risk disabling their expensive computers.”

Windows Update and WGA are interlinked . If you have a PC that doesn’t validate as running a genuine copy of Windows (or you are uneasy about putting it through the validation process for whatever reason), then you are limited to receiving only those updates that are labeled as “Critical”. While this still gives users access to the most important updates, it means that users miss out on updates classified as “Important” or “Moderate”.

To make matters worse, back in 2006 someone at Microsoft decided to push an update for the WGA mechanism (KB905474) through the Windows Update mechanism and marked it as a “Critical” update. This mixing of genuine security updates and marketing propaganda was an enormous abuse of trust on Microsoft’s part (Apple later pulled a similar stunt when it pushed Safari to Windows users though its software update mechanism) and shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.

It’s now time for Microsoft to disconnect WGA from all Windows related updates. Same goes from Office Genuine Advantage and updates for Microsoft Office. The current situation doesn’t make good sense. I don’t have a problem with Microsoft demanding that users wanting additional content (games, new apps, templates viagra and alcohol and so on) have to go through a validation process, but ALL updates should be available to ALL users, irrespective of whether users are running a genuine copy of Windows or not. Users who have unwittingly been sold a counterfeit copy of Windows shouldn’t be penalized and have their security compromised. In fact, when it comes to security updates, even those who know they are running a pirated copy of Windows should get access to all updates. It’s in everyone’s best interests that as many machines as possible are patched.

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April 4, 2010

Use Outlook with Yahoo! Mail

Applies to

You can use Outlook with many Yahoo! Mail e-mail accounts. However, free Web browser-based Yahoo! Mail accounts based in China, Taiwan, or the United States can only be used in Outlook if you have a paid subscription Yahoo! Mail account that includes POP3 access and forwarding.

You can receive your Yahoo! Mail e-mail messages by using Outlook from most places with an Internet connection. Yahoo! Mail provides you access to an authenticated SMTP server — legal viagra allowing you to send e-mail messages using Outlook from your Yahoo! Mail account when you use another Internet service, such as at your office or when traveling.

 Note   Yahoo also provides mail services to partner Internet service providers (ISPs) (ISP: A business that provides access to the Internet for such things as electronic mail, chat rooms, or use of the World Wide Web. Some ISPs are multinational, offering access in many locations, while others are limited to a specific region.). All of these accounts can use be used with Outlook. See the chart at the end of this article to see if your e-mail account is included.

Do one of the following:

Add your Yahoo! Mail e-mail account

  1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
  2. Click Add a new e-mail account, and then click Next.
  3. Click POP3, and then click Next.
  4. Under User Information, do the following:
    1. In the Your Name box, type your full name the way that you want it to appear to other people.
    2. In the E-mail Address box, type your Member ID (or username), followed by the @ symbol and domain name.
  5. Under Server Information, do the following:
    1. In the Incoming mail server (POP3) box, type the server name from the chart below that corresponds to your e-mail address.
    2. In the Outgoing mail server (SMTP) box, type the server name from the chart below that corresponds to your e-mail address.
  6. Under Logon Information, do the following:
    1. In the User Name box, type your Yahoo Member ID (or username). Do not include the @ symbol or domain name.
    2. In the Password box, type your password.
    3. Select the Remember password check box.

       Note   You have the option to have Outlook remember your password by typing it in the Password box and selecting the Remember password check box. Having Outlook remember your password means that you won't have to type your password each time you access the account; however, it also means that the account is vulnerable to anyone who has access to your computer.

      Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Strong password: Y6dh!et5. Weak password: House27. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A pass phrase that uses 14 or more characters is better. For more information, see Help protect your personal information with strong passwords.

      It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it. Store the passwords that you write down in a secure place away from the information that they help protect.

  7. To verify that your account is working, click Test Account Settings. If there is missing or incorrect information, such as your password, you will be prompted to supply or correct it. Make sure your computer is connected to the Internet.
  8. Click More Settings.
  9. On the General tab, under Mail Account, type Yahoo! Mail.
  10. Click the Outgoing Server tab, and then select the My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication check box.
  11. Click Use same settings as my incoming mail server, and then click OK.
  12. Click Next, and then click Finish.

 Notes 

  • Do not select the Log on using Secure Password Authentication (SPA) check box.
  • Unless specified by Yahoo! Mail, all server and address entries are typed in lowercase letters.

Remove your Yahoo! Mail e-mail account

  1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
  2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.
  3. Click the Yahoo! Mail e-mail account that you want to remove, and then click Remove.
  4. Click Finish.

Yahoo! Mail server information

E-mail address Incoming mail server (POP3) Outgoing mail server (SMTP)

Yahoo partner ISPs in the United States

E-mail address Incoming mail server (POP3) Outgoing mail server (SMTP)
MemberID@yahoo.com pop.mail.yahoo.com smtp.mail.yahoo.com

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Add a Gmail account in Outlook

You can send and receive e-mail messages by using your Google Gmail e-mail account and Outlook. Gmail requires a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted connection when you retrieve and send e-mail. Gmail uses POP3 port number 995 and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) port number 465. These settings are not the default for a POP3 account in Outlook and require you to modify account settings in Outlook.

The outgoing e-mail server is similar to those used by many Internet service providers (ISPs). However, Gmail requires authentication on their SMTP e-mail server. This requirement means that you must provide a user name and password — the same as your Gmail screen name and password — before you send your e-mail message. You can save the user name and password in Outlook so that you enter the information just one time.

The following steps configure Outlook for all necessary settings required to send and receive e-mail by using your Gmail e-mail account and Outlook.

 Note   When you change your Gmail password, you need to update the Gmail account information in Outlook.

Do one of the following:

Add your Gmail e-mail account

To use your Gmail e-mail account in Outlook, you must first make sure POP3 support is enabled in Gmail, and then you can add it to Outlook.

  1. Log in to your Gmail account.
  2. At the top of any Gmail page, click Settings.
  3. In the Mail Settings window, click Forwarding and POP.

    I don't see Forwarding and POP

  4. In the POP Download section, select Enable POP or all mail or Enable POP only for mail that arrives from now on.
  5. Click Save Settings.
  6. In Outlook, on the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
  7. Click Add a new e-mail account, and then click Next.
  8. Click POP3, and then click Next.
  9. Under User Information, do the following:
    1. In the Your Name box, type your full name the way you want it to appear to other people.
    2. In the E-mail Address box, type your e-mail user name followed by @gmail.com.
  10. Under Server Information, do the following:
    1. In the Incoming mail server (POP3) box, type pop.gmail.com.
    2. In the Outgoing mail server (SMTP) box, type smtp.Gmail.com.
  11. Under Logon Information, do the following:
    1. In the User Name box, type your full e-mail address, including @gmail.com.
    2. In the Password box, type your password.
    3. Select the Remember password check box.

       Note   You have the option to have Outlook remember your password by typing it in the Password box and selecting the Remember password check box. Having Outlook remember your password means that you won't have to type your password each time you access the account; however, it also means that the account is vulnerable to anyone who has access to your computer.

  12. Click More Settings.
  13. On the General tab, under Mail Account, type Gmail.
  14. Click the Outgoing Server tab, and then select the My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication check box.
  15. Select Use same settings as my incoming mail server.
  16. Click the Advanced tab, and then under Server Port Numbers for both Incoming server (POP3) and Outgoing server (SMTP), select the This server requires an encrypted connection (SSL) check boxes.
  17. Change the Outgoing server (SMTP) port number to 465.

    The Incoming server (POP3) port number should change automatically to 995 when you select the This server requires an encrypted connection (SSL) check box.

  18. Click OK.
  19. To verify that your account is working, click Test Account Settings. If there is missing or incorrect information, such as your password, you will be prompted to supply or correct it. Make sure your computer is connected to the Internet.
  20. Click Next, and then click Finish.

  Notes  

  • Do not select the Log on using Secure Password Authentication (SPA) check box.
  • Unless specified by Gmail, all server and address entries are typed in lowercase letters.

Remove your Gmail e-mail account

  1. On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
  2. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts, and then click Next.
  3. Click the Gmail e-mail account you want to remove, and then click Remove.
  4. Click Finish.

 Note   You can export your Outlook Contacts as a Comma Separated Values (.csv) file and import your contacts into your Gmail account. For help on exporting and importing your Outlook Contacts, see the See Also section in this article.

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