Tagged With outlook 2007
When I posted my recent account of how I got my overflowing inbox under control, one reader pointed out that I could have also automatically converted some of the remaining emails into tasks by dragging them into my task list. As it happens, I like to use my Outlook task list purely for stuff directly related to my writing career (assignments and invoices), with email as a separate, more general to-do area. Also, I'm not big on dragging and dropping, and I find the feature is often buggy anyway (as the screenshot indicates).
Of course, I'm not everybody. But Microsoft really wants everyone to use this feature: so much so that it actually removed some other options to make it work. When I first began using Outlook 2007 shortly after its commercial release, I was irked to find that it was apparently no longer possible to sort tasks by subject in regular task view, an option that had existed for several versions before. That seemed like a major omission, so I hassled Microsoft about why that change had been made. Several weeks later, I got a reply which explained that the lack of sorting was because the previous Subject field had been replaced with a new 'Task Subject' field:
The Task Subject field was added to Outlook as part of the work done to support treating email items as tasks. It is auto-generated by Outlook. Since a sortable 'subject' field was already available, the decision was made not to expend the resources to make this system-generated field sortable.
Me, I'm not convinced that this is much of an excuse (honestly, how hard is it to sort something?) -- but it shows that Microsoft remains unafraid to break a perfectly good system just because it thinks it knows better. You can fix this limitation by creating custom views that use the existing Subject field, but I haven't got around to it yet -- and with my own system working, I don't imagine I well in a hurry.
If you've set up IMAP access to Gmail in Outlook, you may have noticed that using flags in Outlook and stars in Gmail creates a duplicate set of tasks in your sidebar. The How-To Geek shows you how to fix that distraction, using a little creative filtering. The trick can be extended to multiple email accounts, and whether you bring Gmail into your All Mail folder or not. Hit the link for the Geek's helpful run-through. Prevent Outlook with Gmail IMAP from Showing Duplicate Tasks in the To-Do Bar
Lifehacker reader and TiddlyWiki enthusiast Fraser has written up a guide that takes the idea of cut-and-paste Outlook Today customising to the next logical (or at least Lifehacker-friendly) conclusion—integrating a TiddlyWiki to-do list and notebook into Outlook. Combine the easy-to-edit power of a personal wiki with the at-a-glance inbox and task information from Outlook, and you've got a powerful start page indeed. For a primer on getting things done with a TiddlyWiki, check out guest-poster Jason Thomas' GTDTiddlyWiki walkthrough. (Original Outlook Today post).
Microsoft Outlook is the company-issued email client at your place of employment, so like it or not, it's up to you to figure out how to manage your inbox, calendar, and task list every day using it. To make things worse, if you're in IT lockdown without administrator rights to your PC, you can't install special add-ons or software to help your cause. Luckily there are install-free ways to customise Outlook, add keyboard shortcuts, and get your inbox down to zero messages painlessly with a few tweaks to your setup.
The first message one could consider email was sent more than 30 years ago, and that's probably when people began associating angst and uncertainty with the words "Inbox" and "unread messages." The tools available to read and send emails have advanced considerably since then, but what you actually do with all that chatter, without eating up entire days of work time, is up to you. Luckily, we've covered a wealth of filtering and processing methods and software tweaks that make email less stressful and time-consuming over the years, and a list of our top 10 productive email boosters is after the jump.
Windows with Outlook 2007 only: Send text messages in a dedicated Outlook interface with SMSOfficer, a free add-on for Outlook 2007. Once you finish the free sign-up and verification at SMSOfficer's site, you'll get a new menu item in Outlook, New->Text Message, where you can type in a phone number or contact and send a message of less than 160 characters (write more and it's split into multiple texts), with replies heading to your phone. You get 10 free texts, and additional credits can be purchased via PayPal—$US20 will get you 250 texts, with bulk discounts at higher volumes. Anyone with email access can send a text message by knowing the right carrier email addresses, but SMSOfficer strips out header text and is obviously convenient for Outlook acolytes. SMSOfficer is a free sign-up and download for Windows and Outlook 2007.
FuseCal is a web app that does something so useful, yet so seemingly rare, that it's hard to believe it's both free and easy to use. The app, currently in alpha, lets you add iCal-based calendars (and a few other formats) to a master calendar, then choose whether all those events, just the ones you pick, or events filtered by keyword will be synced to Outlook, Apple iCal, Google Calendar, or another program. I've only had time to test the Google Calendar->FuseCal->Outlook setup, and it seems to work. Those with web sites can also publish their combined FuseCals on their site. FuseCal is free to use; a sign-up lets you keep your calendars in sync.
Windows only: OutSync, a free app that requires Microsoft Outlook 2003 or 2007, harnesses profile photos of your Facebook friends to add them to your Outlook contacts, saving you the trouble of manually adding them yourself. It's important to note that OutSync, like any Facebook-scraping app, doesn't grab phone numbers or emails from your contacts, since that could result in a profile take-down. But Windows Mobile users can especially benefit from OutSync's utility, as syncing your device means pictures of your friends show up when you make or receive a call—helpful for those "Should I take this call?" moments. OutSync is a free download for Windows XP or Vista, and requires Microsoft Outlook 2003 or 2007. OutSync
Microsoft Outlook 2007 only: If there are certain phrases or images you put in email messages, Outlook 2007's Quick Parts feature saves those up for easy reuse. The Productivity Portfolio blog explains how to save email bits—like a company logo, directions, company policy or signatures—to your Quick Parts gallery and drop them in email messages quickly to save typing. Of course, our homegrown application Texter can do global text snippet insertion (not just in Outlook), but Quick Parts sounds like a nice solution for quick image reuse in Outlook.
Outlook 2007 Quick Parts | Outlook Building Blocks