Like most people, you likely get more e-mail than you can handle. Again, like most people, you’d probably love to have an effective method of dealing with the overload. Caelo Software (pronounced kay-lo) from British Columbia has come up with a pretty cool tool for doing just that. Called the Nelson Email Organizer (the company is based in Nelson, BC), or NEO for short, it is a great add-on product for Outlook that aims to help you keep better track of your e-mail. I have been using this tool for five months now, and I don’t know how I ever did without it.

NEO is really a metadata catalog of your e-mail. It goes through all the e-mail in your account folders and looks at all the normal stuff like sender, dates, size, subject, and so on. But it also looks at what kinds of attachments an e-mail might have. And it catalogs every word in every e-mail. It puts all this data about your e-mail into its own database, which can then be viewed in the NEO application shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Here you see the Hot tab, one of the views you can access. The other tabs include Correspondent, Bulk Mail, Status, and Date. Hot is a property you can give to a date range (like Today, Last Week, and so on), to a correspondent (such as “Brian Kennemer,” as is shown), or to file types. Clicking on one of these entries in the left-hand pane will show you all the e-mails associated with that item. As you can see, I have decided to show Active Mail, the To Do mail, Unread mail, and then the Today, Yesterday, This week, and Last week date properties. I also view mail from Brian Kennemer and any mail with a PDF or XLS attachment. The user decides what items appear in this view. Adding another correspondent folder is as easy as right-clicking on a name and picking Hot from the context menu.

Figure A also shows another of NEO’s concepts called Active Mail. Outlook doesn’t provide it because its views are always folder-based at their core. Because NEO looks at all the e-mail across all the folders in your account, it can show a more complete view and allow for these kinds of categories to be displayed easily. “Active” is a property of mail and new e-mail is marked as active. This feature allows you to have all your e-mail in a small number of folders but still filter it effectively without having to file it in large number of traditional folders.

Figure B shows the Attachments view. This view gives you a quick way to find e-mails with certain kinds of attachments. I have used this dozens of times when I knew I got an e-mail with a certain file but couldn’t remember who sent it to me. Outlook has this functionality but only via Search. This view gives it to you instantly.

Figure B

And speaking of searching, searching the catalog in NEO is lightning fast. It does a full-text search (NOT just a single-field search) of my e-mail folders of about 5,000 e-mail messages in about four seconds. It allows me to find messages faster and mark those that are important to me quickly and easily without having to resort to using dozens of folders. With Outlook I found myself creating folders to hold the e-mail I got from people I considered important. I would force myself on a weekly basis (if I was lucky) to go through my inbox and sort the e-mail out into these folders. With NEO’s Correspondent view, all the mail in my NEO catalog is automatically sorted by the name of the sender.

If you have people who send you e-mail from multiple e-mail accounts, you can create a sort of profile for them and associate all their e-mail accounts with one name so all their e-mail will be under that one name in the list. Figure C shows an example of this view. Clicking on any of these names will bring up a list, in the right-hand pane shown in Figure A, of all e-mail received from that person.

Figure C

You can also use the Bulk Mail features in NEO to have more control over the e-mail lists you belong to or the SPAM you get. NEO treats any e-mail sent directly to you as what it calls Correspondence e-mail and any e-mail that is sent to you indirectly as Bulk Mail. It puts bulk mail into a special view that can contain folders for the various e-mail lists from which you might get mail. You can have it “file” these bulk messages automatically. You can also move a message from a specific list over to the Correspondence type if it’s one you don’t want to be classified as bulk mail.

I use the NEO app every day, all day. The tool is $39.99 (US) but has breaks for buying in volume. They even have a kind of grass roots marketing program where if you refer someone, and they buy NEO, you get a cut of the seats they buy. (I am NOT a part of this program.) Caelo is also one of those software companies that is big enough talent-wise to produce good, well thought out software while still being small enough that you can go to the About page on its Web site and get the personal e-mail address of the president of the company. I paid full price for this software, and I would do it again. Look into it if you think you need help managing your e-mail overload.