Software

Get IT Done: Increase Outlook 2002's functionality with three third-party solutions

Third-party software adds functionality to Microsofts Outlook 2002

Outlook 2002 includes a number of new features to increase productivity and organization. It also comes with new attachment security that can be a blessing to support techs, but some users may find it difficult to deal with. But no application can deliver all things to all people. Consider these three add-ons for Outlook 2002: Attachment Options, ZipOut, and Extended Reminders. You can use them to help your users deal with the inconveniences of Outlook's attachment security feature and add reminder capabilities to folders in a message store.

Attachment Options
If you send and receive attachments with Outlook 2002, you probably either love or hate the new attachment security. Having the security feature restrict access to harmful viruses is great for those who support users that open every attachment no matter what it is or where it is from. However, your users may also receive files they can’t access even though they are virus-free.

In an Exchange environment, you can deploy Microsoft's Outlook Security Features Administrative Package to block attachments directly from the server. If you’re not in an Exchange environment, however, your options are somewhat limited. You can go to each user's machine and hack the registry to add a key to move attachments from Level 1 (blocked, no access) to Level 2 (must save to disk before opening), but that can be a hassle.

If you trust your users to customize attachment blocking by themselves, consider Attachment Options, a shareware product from Slovak Technical Services. Written by Outlook MVP Ken Slovak, this COM add-in allows users to move attachments from Level 1 to Level 2 with a few clicks of the mouse. In addition to the attachment access, the newest version of Attachment Options also exposes two other registry keys. The first, READASPLAIN, turns all HTML-formatted e-mail into plain text. The e-mail still contains the HTML—it can be viewed by turning READASPLAIN off—but Outlook displays the e-mail in plain text. This ensures that no rogue HTML script can be executed on an unsuspecting user’s machine.

Another handy feature of Attachment Options is the ability to minimize Outlook to the system tray. This can be very helpful to users who quickly run out of real estate on their taskbars.

ZipOut
Micro Eye, a Microsoft Certified Partner, offers ZipOut, a tool that automatically zips attachments sent from Outlook (see Figure A). This provides several benefits. First, it completely negates the challenges of the new Outlook security features. All outgoing attachments are zipped so they can be sent and received by Outlook 2002 clients. Even if your recipients aren't using Outlook 2002, many companies are stripping out different types of attachments at the mail server level. So even if your recipients are using Outlook 2000 or another e-mail client without the security features and you want to send them a .exe file, they may not receive it because their mail server restricts such an attachment. ZipOut ensures that your attachments arrive unblocked.

Figure A
ZipOut allows users to block high-risk attachment types and specify which types of items it examines.


Another known problem that occurs with e-mailing attachments is that the attachment can become corrupt while in transit. After an attachment is zipped, the likelihood of corruption is greatly reduced.

ZipOut can be turned on or off on a per-message basis. So if you’re sending an e-mail to someone who doesn't have an unzipping program like WinZip installed, you can turn ZipOut off to send a message with an attachment to that person.

ZipOut also provides two other services: existing attachment compression and attachment indexing. With the popularity of digital pictures and the increasing high volume of both business and personal e-mails sent on a daily basis, storage space can be an issue. ZipOut allows users to manage attachments and schedule compression and indexing of existing attachments on a regular schedule, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Users can schedule indexing and compression of existing attachments on a daily, weekly, monthly, or onetime basis.


Compressing existing attachments dramatically reduces the amount of space your mailbox requires. A typical mix of Word, Excel, and JPG attachments can often be compressed by over 50 percent, providing dramatic savings in total storage requirements.

You can download a free trial version of ZipOut 2002 from Download.com, or you can purchase the full version for $20 directly from Micro Eye's Web site. Volume discounts are available starting with as few as two licenses.

Extended Reminders
All versions of Outlook include reminders and follow-up flags. However, these reminders only fire in your default folders (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Inbox). They do not fire in new folders you create. Extended Reminders, also from Slovak Technical Services, takes care of this.

Figure C
Extended Reminders allows users to select any folder in their default message store to send reminders.


With this COM add-in, you can set reminders to fire in any folder within your default message store (see Figure C). Your default message store is the one that contains the Inbox that receives your mail. You can add or remove folders to keep them from firing reminders with the easy-to-use interface. Extended Reminders is available for $15 from ShareIt.

Unfortunately, you can't set reminders to fire from within a public folder with Extended Reminders. However, Slovak Technical Services is working on a new product, Reminder Manager, that can fire reminders in personal and public folders. This will enable group productivity applications written in Outlook and Exchange to interact with individual user’s desktop Outlook.

Editor's Picks