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.