Software

Boost Outlook 2003 e-mail functionality with add-ins

Despite all its features, Outlook 2003 can't be all things to all users. To help take up the slack, add-ins such as the Lookout search tool, CannedResponses, and Redirector expand functionality and provide additional control over Outlook features.

Outlook 2003 is full of features and gives you a great deal of configuration flexibility right out of the box, but you can gain even more control over Outlook's behavior by installing third-party add-ins. For example, Lookout makes searching your e-mail messages fast and efficient. The Duplicate Email Remover finds and flags or removes extra copies of the same e-mail message. CannedResponses lets you add boilerplate text to your messages with a single click. Not all add-ins are free, but even those that cost may be worthwhile investments if you have specialized needs. In this article, we will take a look at these and other add-ins for Outlook 2003 that give you more control than ever over your e-mail.

Lookout search tool

Lookout is a cool search tool that makes it much easier to find the particular message you're looking for—especially if you have thousands of e-mails stored in Outlook, as I do. This is much speedier than using Outlook's built-in Find function. Best of all, it's free. It works on Outlook versions 2000, XP (2002), and 2003, running on Windows 2000 or XP/2003.


Tip

If you don't already have the Microsoft .NET Framework installed on your system, Lookout's setup program will require you to download and install it.


When you initially install Lookout, it indexes your e-mail messages. You can also manually start the indexing process at any time by clicking the Indexer button on the Lookout toolbar, shown in Figure A. (We have entered isa server in the search box.)

Figure A

Lookout adds a Search field and Indexer button to the toolbar.

Search results appear in a window that displays Date, From, and To fields, the folder in which each message is stored, and the subject line, as shown in Figure B. The status bar shows you how many matches were found and how long the search took. Our search turned up 3,501 matching messages in only 2.54 seconds.

Figure B

Search results are displayed in a separate window.

You can restrict search results to only messages that meet specific criteria:

  • Those received or sent in the last month
  • Those received or sent in the last week
  • Those in the Contacts folder
  • Those in E-mails
  • Those in Files
  • Those with attachments

Tip

Lookout indexes only the names, file types, and sizes of attachments. The current version does not index the contents of attachments.


With the Search Builder, shown in Figure C, you can further filter search criteria.

Figure C

You can filter the search criteria using Lookout's Search Builder.

Duplicate Email Remover and Duplicates Remover

Duplicate copies of an e-mail message may exist in different folders or the same folder, taking up valuable space in your mailbox. With Duplicate Email Remover (DER) from MAPILab, you can find duplicate messages and perform one of the following actions:

  • Remove them.
  • Mark them with a flag.
  • Copy them to a specified folder.
  • Move them to a specified folder.

You can also set priorities so that if duplicates exist in two different folders, you can determine which folder should have the duplicate deleted.


Tip

You can use DER to remove or mark duplicates in any mailbox to which you have permission to connect. It works with Exchange Server's public folders, as well.


To mark or remove duplicates from Outlook folders other than e-mail folders, you can use the companion program, Duplicates Remover. This one lets you locate duplicate notes, contacts, journal entries, and calendar items and process them in the same way DER processes e-mail messages.

You can download free trial versions of DER and Duplicates Remover from the MAPILab site.

CannedResponses

If you use e-mail a lot, especially for business purposes, you probably often send the same replies over and over. CannedResponses is an Outlook add-in from 4Team Corporation that makes the process more efficient.

Sure, if you use Word as your e-mail editor, you can create an AutoText entry to insert in your messages. But with CannedResponses, all it takes is one click on the toolbar to insert your boilerplate reply. Figure D shows the Canned toolbar, above the standard menu bar.

Figure D

CannedResponses adds a toolbar that lets you insert boilerplate text with a single click.

You can create your own canned responses and add them to the toolbar as C4, C5, C6, and so forth. You can also add any of dozens of emoticons, either putting the commonly used ones on the toolbar or clicking the Canned button to display your selections.

Creating a new boilerplate message is simple. Just click Canned, click Modify, and then click the Add Message button. In the Add Message dialog box, shown in Figure E, type your message. If you want, you can place an icon in the toolbar for this message by checking the Hot Button box.

Figure E

It's easy to create new boilerplate messages with CannedResponses.

Video E-Mail add-in

Here's another freebie: Microsoft's Video E-mail for Outlook 2003 add-in. This tool lets you create video e-mails with your Web camera, in two easy clicks.

First, download the Video E-mail add-in and install it. Next, connect a Web cam to your computer, if you haven't already. Now, when you open Outlook, you'll see a Video Message button on the toolbar. Click it to start the Video E-mail application. The recipient will receive a notification: You have received a video e-mail. Clicking the attached file will play the video in the recipient's Web browser. If the recipient also has the add-in installed, he or she can click the Reply With Video button to send a video message in response.

More add-ins for Outlook 2003

Many more add-in products are available to expand Outlook 2003 functionality. The following are some of our favorites from MAPILab and 4Team. Note: These are not freeware, but trial versions are available for you to try out.

  • Subscription Manager allows users to subscribe or unsubscribe themselves from your Outlook distribution lists.
  • NNTP for Outlook adds a newsreader interface similar to that of Outlook Express.
  • Redirector allows you to redirect messages instead of forwarding them.
  • Send Personally lets you send mass mailings that show only each individual recipient in the heading, as if the message were sent only to him or her.
  • Autofill BCC creates rules for automatically sending a CC or BCC based on the folder in which the original message is located.
  • Vcard4Outlook converts all your Outlook contacts to Vcard format at once, instead of one at a time.

Feature fulfillment

A plethora of handy add-in programs are available to extend Outlook 2003's features and functionality—and some are even free. If you ever thought, "I wish Outlook would do (insert your wish list here)," there's a good chance that someone has already created an add-in that will make that wish come true.

About Deb Shinder

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

Editor's Picks