One of the nice things about Outlook 2013 is that it is extensible through the use of apps. You can install an app for Outlook 2013 by clicking on the Files menu and then clicking the Manage Apps button and following the prompts. Once you install an app, it will be invoked automatically when you compose or view a message — but only when appropriate. For example, an app that is designed to map addresses is typically invoked only when you open an email that contains an address. Apps are accessible via a link located just above the message body.

Let’s take a look at five free Outlook 2013 available from the Office Store. (Note: These apps require you to have an Exchange account.)

This article is also available as an image gallery.

1: Email Translator

Email Translator is a utility for translating inbound email messages from one language to another. It’s based on Microsoft Translator and includes support for dozens of languages (Figure A). One helpful thing about this app is that it allows you to restore a message’s original text if necessary. To put this capability to the test, I wrote a message in English, translated it to Spanish, then to Chinese, and then to Russian. Email Translator was still able to recover the original English text.

Figure A

2: Package Tracker

Package Tracker (Figure B) helps you track packages that are being delivered by FedEx. Simply open any message that includes a FedEx tracking number and click on the Package Tracker link. After you accept the terms of use, the tracking information will be displayed directly within the message. This can be extremely handy, since some vendors provide tracking numbers but not direct links to the package tracking information.

Figure B

3: Message Header Analyzer

Message Header Analyzer is a really useful app for IT pros and for anyone else who wants to analyze a message header. It displays message header information with the click of a mouse. The app presents each message hop on a different line and displays the submitting host, receiving host, time, delay, and type for each hop (Figure C).

Figure C

4: Conversation Filer

Conversation Filer (Figure D) is a free app that’s designed to help you place messages in the appropriate folders. If you receive an email that’s part of a conversation you filed in a different folder, the app will prompt you to move the current message to that folder too. It’s true that you could create an Outlook rule to perform such a task, but rules are often based on the recipient name and may break if you are listed as a BCC.

Figure D

5: Messageware TakeNote

Messageware TakeNote (Figure E) lets you take private notes about senders and about individual messages. When you receive a message, you can use TakeNote to jot down some quick notes about the sender or perhaps about a previous conversation you have had with that person. You can also append notes to individual email messages. These notes are private and are for your reference only. They are not sent if you forward the message to someone.

Figure E

Bing Maps

You might have noticed Bing Maps in some of the screen captures that go along with this article. I didn’t include it as one of the five apps covered here because it’s installed by default, but it can be quite useful. The Bing Maps app is automatically activated any time Outlook detects an address within an email message. When you launch Bing Maps, it will display the addresses it has detected. Click on one of these addresses, and Bing Maps will display a map of the location (Figure F).

Figure F

What else?

What other apps have you installed to expand Outlook 2013’s capabilities? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.