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Outlook Secrets, Part 2

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
 

Simple gray rule


Enhancements for Outlook
 

Bit Player for May 25, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

Microsoft was true to form when it created Outlook, the central program in Office 97. Like so many other Microsoft programs, Outlook was not quite ready for prime time when it was released.

Fortunately, Microsoft is learning how to fix both its bad habits and its unfinished software. The company has released a minor patch for Outlook that you can download today, and has announced a major fix (for Outlook and the rest of Office 97) that will be available in July. (For more information on the major upgrade, go to http://www.microsoft.com/Office/Office97/OpenLetter.htm.)

While you're fixing Outlook, be sure to download the Outlook Rules Wizard, which gives all Outlook users a simple way of filtering everything that arrives—deleting junk mail automatically, routing mail from specified users to various locations, popping up custom alerts and much more.

The minor fix and the Rules Wizard are both free.

The patch that's available now fixes a few bugs and oversights in the way Outlook handles Internet mail. The patched version works better on office networks, is able to handle multiple e-mail accounts properly, does not force the encoding of mail in a format known as RTF and fixes a lot of small problems.

You can download the Outlook Internet Mail Enhancement Patch and the Rules Wizard from a link at http://www.microsoft.com/outlook/.

Because of an oddity in the way Outlook works after it is patched, you should change one of Outlook's settings if you access the Internet through a dialup connection. Open the Tools menu, choose Services, click on "Internet Mail," then "Properties," then "Connection." Choose "I use a LAN connection." Then save those settings, open the Tools menu again, choose Options, and click on the Internet E-mail tab. At the bottom of the form, make sure there is a checkmark next to "Check for new messages" and fill in the time interval.

(Yes, what I'm saying is that you should tell Outlook you access the Internet through a Local Area Network even if you use your modem to make a dialup connection. This fixes a bug that the patch itself introduces.)

For full explanations of what the Internet mail patch does, go to the Microsoft Knowledge Base at http://www.microsoft.com/kb/ and read the following articles:

    • OL97: Err Msg: A Message Could Not Be Delivered. Article ID: Q163860
    • OL97: BCC List Included in Internet Mail Header. Article ID: Q167111
    • OL97: Reply to Internet Mail Does Not Preserve Original Format. Article ID: Q167144
    • OL97: Headers Not Visible on Options Tab of Message. Article ID: Q167145

For explanations of problems with the patch itself, look for these articles:

    • OL97: End of IMEP Setup Displays Internet Mail Property Sheet.Article ID: Q16709
    • OL97: Removal of IMEP Deletes Original Account Information. Article ID: Q167148
    • OL97: Help for IMEP Disappears After Installing Other Add-ins.Article ID: Q166976
    • OL97: Error When Installing IMEP With Running Programs. Article ID: Q166974
    • OL97: Reply Characters (Ticks) Not Available With Task Request. Article ID: Q167084
    • OL97: Internet Mail Reply Does not Add Angle Bracket.Article ID: Q167142
    • OL97: Spelling Check Does Not Ignore Original Message Text. Article ID: Q167143
    • OL97: Problems Copying Profiles When Using IMEP. Article ID: Q166975
    • OL97: Cannot Schedule Multiple Delivery Times in Same Profile. Article ID: Q167083
    • OL97: Cancel Button Does Not Work in Delivering Messages Dialog. Article ID: Q167089

(You can also go directly to a list of Outlook-related Knowledge Base articles using this incredibly complicated link: http://search.microsoft.com/searchbin/kb/mts_search.idq?Scope=%2Fkb%2Farticles%2F&Tmplt=mts_search&HQF=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.com%2Fkb%2F&SWR=F&Sort=rank%5Bd%5D&Purl=%2Fkb&Pfx=kb&base=kb&sl=NULL&nm=KB&KBD=kb&MaxP=25&MaxR=100&HDR=@KBArea&Long=F&Sz=OL97.)

The Rules Wizard needs little explanation. Some things Microsoft does well, and the Rules Wizard is one of them. Setting up rules for what should happen when mail arrives is easy, and you can have any number of rules active at one time. You can even turn off rules that aren't needed without losing them, in case you want to use them again later.

I use one rule I created to automatically delete junk mail. Another one automatically sends off a form letter, and I have about a dozen others that deal with attachments, inform me of mail from my sons or daughter, tell me that my wife has sent me a note across our home-office network, and so on.

Even if you use the Rules Wizard for the most basic tasks—alerting you with a customized message when new mail arrives—you'll appreciate what Microsoft's programmers have done. (A note to users of Microsoft's Exchange Server: The Rules Wizard's functions are already available, in a simplified form, in the Exchange Server. You may want to try the Rules Wizard anyway, just to see how you can add to functions you already have.)


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