Software

Five useful utilities for Microsoft Outlook

Brien Posey lists five utilities that can provide some extra functionality to Outlook.

On most days I find that I spend more time working in Microsoft Outlook than any other application. Although Microsoft has done a good job of covering the basics in Outlook, there is always room for improvement. This article lists five utilities that can provide some extra functionality to Outlook. Some are intended specifically for use with Outlook. Others probably were not created with Outlook in mind, but are useful nonetheless.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. ShareO for Outlook

ShareO for Outlook is a utility that makes it easy to share Outlook data with others. Outlook has native capabilities for sharing things like contacts and calendars, but sharing generally requires a compatible E-mail account. ShareO is designed to allow you to share folders, contacts, calendars, etc. with your contacts, even if you do not have an Exchange mailbox.

The software is an add-in for Outlook 2010 and integrates neatly into the Outlook toolbar. Unfortunately, the current version does not seem to work with Outlook 2013.

ShareO for Outlook sells for $34.95, but a 14-day free trial is available for download.

2. vCard Wizard for Outlook

vCard Wizard for Outlook is a utility that is designed to export your contacts to vCard format. The software can create a separate vCard for each contact, or it can group all of your contacts into a single vCard.

vCard Wizard for Outlook is designed to work as an Outlook add-in, but there is also a Start menu option that can be used to launch vCard Wizard. Clicking this icon launches Outlook and opens vCard Wizard.

vCard Wizard for Outlook costs $12.95, but a free 14-day trial is available for download.

3. Active Desktop Calendar

Active Desktop Calendar isn't an Outlook add-in, but rather a utility that might best be thought of as an Outlook supplement. Active Desktop calendar is a standalone application that displays a calendar on your Windows desktop. However, it is possible to link Active Desktop Calendar to Outlook so that items from the Outlook calendar are displayed directly on your desktop.

Active Desktop Calendar costs $29.00, but a free 42-day trial is available for download.

4. X1 Professional Client

X1 Professional Client is a desktop search application that is specifically designed to work with Outlook.

The thing that makes X1 Professional Client so cool is that it has a full view of your mailbox, contacts, calendar, etc. In fact, you can use X1 Professional to read and reply to messages. Of course this utility's real power is in its search capabilities. Search results are divided into a series of tabs. For example, you can search for messages, sent items, contacts, messages with attachments, and much more.

X1 Professional Client sells for $49.95, but a free 14-day trial is available for download.

5. Win2PDF

One of my favorite features in Office 2010 and Office 2013 is the ability to save Office documents as PDF files. For whatever reason though, Microsoft did not include this capability in Outlook. Outlook lets you save messages, but you cannot save them in PDF format. This is where Win2PDF comes into play.

Win2PDF is not designed specifically for use with Outlook, but it is a great Outlook compliment. The software is essentially a print driver that sends documents to a PDF file rather than to a printer. In essence this means that anything that you can print can be turned into a PDF. In the case of Outlook, this means that you could turn things like E-mail messages and contacts into PDF files.

Win2PDF costs $35, but a free trial version is available. The trial version is fully functional and does not expire, but adds an extra page to each PDF file that you create.

Also read:

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

30 comments
dohodoho
dohodoho

I have another tip of a useful Add-in called SafeSend. It helps in preventing sending accidental emails by asking users to confirm external recipients outside the company domain. Check it out at http://www.safesendsoftware.com

StefanS2
StefanS2

Hi all,

I know an alternative. It's called Lookeen. It may not be free and was mainly developed for Microsoft Outlook but it still fits as a desktop search tool. Try the 14-days trial version on http://lookeen.de 

Kind regards, StefanS. 

Disclaimer: I work for Axonic - vendor of Lookeen.

pstviewer
pstviewer

The article shows the PDF converter which seems to be convenient. The PDF converter 2013 is the best converter as per now, hopes to a better will launch soon.

DJR721
DJR721

Foxit Reader PDF printer - free PDF ReDirect v2 - free Awsome utilities - no ads - used them for years

edwinfoter
edwinfoter

Very nice post and I am very happy to use this, but I have share more good idea like Kernel for outlook repair tool to repair and recover damaged pst files from your computer system. You can directly use at here : www.kerneldatarecovery.com/pst-recovery.html

CorporateLackie
CorporateLackie

Is there a tool to create a contact record from highlighted text? Typical use for me would be when I receive an e-mail from a new person that has their contact information block at the bottom - name. company. phone, title etc.... It would be awesome to be able to highlight that block and have a tool to create a contact record (or at least try) from the highlighted text....

chris-b
chris-b

I can't imagine a better search tool for Outlook than Google Desktop Search - I've got messages going back 10 years (my Inbox alone has over 10,000 messages in it right now), and I can find anything from anyone anytime with a quick search on a couple of salient keywords. Maybe it's no longer available, but it's free and actually integrates with a toolbar search box in Outlook. It's handy for finding lots of other stuff too, of course - I recommend it highly!

aapksath
aapksath

I understand that this is not "one size fits all" when it comes to searching e-mails due to how individuals have configured their Outlook inbox, the amount of e-mails they receive, and how they use Outlook. However, I'd highly recommend folks to explore using "Search Folders" option within Outlook 2010, if they haven't already done so or are not aware of this function. They offer virtual storage folders for a slew of search criteria options that one might want to specify. Just right-click the "Search Folder" criteria available in the Navigation Pane on the left, to create a New search folder and voila...let your imagination do the work based on the search options provided. It's native to Outlook 2010 and when you delete a search folder, the e-mail messages stay intact As for the e-mail PDF, I like to use "doPDF" configured as a printer and that does the job for my needs without any hassles. It can be had for FREE from dopdf.com for anyone interested. MS

the_tech_mule
the_tech_mule

We run hosted Exchange with pretty low quotas on the server mailboxes. This is forcing users to use PST files extensively. Using Safe PST Backup from 4Team, I'm able to have all my users' PST files backed up to the server several times a day. The backups are differentials using VSS so it's pretty quick even on PST files that are in the 10GB+ range! We're using just the free version but there is a managed version as well that so that IT can make sure everyone's backups are working properly. I want to get rid of PSTs in the future but until I can, Safe PST Backup is a great tool for us.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

One of the best addin for outlook is ODIR. Outlook Duplicate Remover is free and works very well. Allow you to search and delete duplicates in Outlook folders.

ghurlbut
ghurlbut

http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/ SpamBayes is a free email filter that will attempt to classify incoming email messages as 'spam', 'ham' (good, non-spam email) or 'unsure'. SpamBayes comes in a version as a plugin addon to MS Outlook.

ron
ron

You should check out xobni, https://www.xobni.com/download/outlook inbox spelled backwards. It's a powerful search tool add-on that allows you to search your outlook and cross reference to social site connections. The price is subscription base (kind of annoying) but if you work with email as much as I do than it can worth the yearly subscription rate. The subscription works with other emails accounts too (gmail, android and iphone) Well worth the look.

ThomasMcA2
ThomasMcA2

Wow, one of your favorite features in Office 2010 and Office 2013 is something that CutePDF has provided for free for over a decade. And for those of you that want that same great feature in Outlook, you only have to pay $35 for WinPDF!?!? No, thanks. TechRepublic just lost a couple of reputation points for that technical ignorance.

jack.w.mckee
jack.w.mckee

We bought the X1 package for our company several years ago. IT IS A MESS. A real resource hog, and prone to locking any machine on which it runs -- INCLUDING our server. Not recommended at all.

george.gordon
george.gordon

I agree with the above post that this is a very good product. You can share multiple contacts folders, multiple calendars, mail folders etc. The latest version has an over-the-internet facility. Their other products, even the free ones, are also worth a look. PS: I'm a user of CodeTwo Public Folders and Outlook Sync, and have no affiliation with CodeTwo.

DonG43
DonG43

I love Aladdins Envelopes and Labels. You can print envelopes (and labels) directly from Outlook instead of starting Word and copying and pasting. You can set up several styles of envelopes for different return addresses and set up several styles of labels. You can print one out or select many contacts and print one for each. You can even type in that one address that you don't need in Outlook such as the IRS and print a label for them. Price is low, has a free trial and tech support is outstanding. It is the one Outlook Utility I could not function without.

rjpetrasek
rjpetrasek

My favorite PDF creator is CutePDF Writer. It appears as a printer after installation. It has never failed me in 10 years. There is a Free and a Professional version. The Professional version allows you to edit PDF documents among other features.

th
th

I have tried a range of applications for sharing Outlook and by the far the best in my experience is CodeTwo Public Folders. It costs more than ShareOutlook but works extremely well. CodeTwo also have other Outlook utilities though I have not tried most of them.

crossbrand
crossbrand

ShareO is a bit on the junky side. If you have more than three people needing to share then I suggest you find something else.

DittoHeadStL
DittoHeadStL

If you want a generic PDF creator that acts like a print driver, check out the free PrimoPDF product. Truly free, forever, with no extra ad pages.

Gisabun
Gisabun

These are [I'd assume] mostly apps that are outside of Outlook and not plugins. Speaking of PDFs, one thing I liked about the new[er] versions of Acrobat is that not only can you print an Email to a PDF but you can also print [or backup] all of your Emails to a PDF - thereby making it sort of portable.

lalvarado.pty
lalvarado.pty

Totally agree, CutePDF is the "de-facto" standard for printing to PDF in the Windows realm, IMHO. Why would I spend $35 for a functionality that is available for free, and best of all, IT WORKS!

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Agree. Cutepdf is one of the best and fastest pdf converters out there, since long time ago!.

cbvrha
cbvrha

@jack.w.mckee 

Jack, I use X1 Search 8, their latest incarnation, on an XP 32-bit machine. The initial file indexing took around 1 day on my machine. After that, the updates are faster but I don't notice that because I scheduled the file index update after hours. Searching works great across the board. The speed of content searching beats Outlook hands down. BTW, it works great on Windows 7, too.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I have never experienced X1 being a resource hog or prone to locking a machine up but I do not doubt your claims - just not my experience. One thing I have noticed is that because X1 can index [i]anything[/i] you have access to - your local drives, a networked share, a shared desktop, etc., you need to be careful what you set it to index and how deep your index goes. For instance, you can set it to index the filenames only on a fileshare (not the content) to keep the index file smalller. You can also index the content if a specific folder in that same fileshare separately. The index settings are very granular. The biggest feature of X1 for me is that you can search the content (including file attachment content) of unmounted pst files. Search is extremely flexible and it does a much better job finding what you are looking for than Outlook serach can.

aapksath
aapksath

Jack: I haven't used X1, so, I'm at no liberty to comment in favor of or against it, for now. However, based on what I read about X1 here, in my understanding, it offers a "souped up" interface with message search functionality based on various criteria like by name, size etc. in a tab format. Outlook 2010's interface offers all the tools (contacts, calendar) pretty much a tiny click away. It also does a decent job from basic search perspective, however, it's advanced search capability lies in what is called "Search Folders", which are virtual place holders for a wide variety of search criteria a user may want to specify, for example, mail with attachments, categorized and flagged messages, Old mail, mail of specific size and so on. Explore this option, if you haven't already. So, unless one wants to adorn "a new dress" on Outlook 2010 using X1, I think I would save my money and use Outlook's native features. Just my 4,995 ($49.95) cents! MS

mckinnej
mckinnej

PDFCreator is another print driver PDF tool. It's available on SourceForge. Highly rated.

Editor's Picks